7 Books For Beginning Webmasters

Are you just getting starting as a webmaster/blogger? Are you a little clueless when it comes to HTML? Need a primer on RSS feeds? It looks like you should read some books. The web is a great source for information, though sometimes it’s better to read a good old-fashion book.

How did I get to where I am today? I learned everything I know about the workings of the web from books and websites. I learned about HTML and CSS in books, I picked-up a little PHP in a book…then learned the rest online.

If you’re getting started as a webmaster, I highly recommend the following books.

  • HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition by Elizabeth Castro

    This “Visual Quickstart Guide” is the best book I’ve ever seen on (X)HTML and CSS. It’s a great introduction, and a handy reference. The book covers pretty much all you need to know, with full-color examples. All the code is listed in full, and explained in a step-by-step fashion. Even if you use a WYSIWYG editor (like Dreamweaver or GoLive) for your design work, I still recommend that you learn (X)HTML. If you don’t understand what’s going on behind the scenes, you will find things to be more difficult than they need to be. It’s well worth it to learn (X)HTML and CSS. If you’re going to learn them, then I highly recommend this book. If you already know how to hand-code HTML, then you can use this book as a reference. I do.

  • Web Design Expert and How to Design and Build the Coolest Web Site in Cyberspace by Nick Nettleton

    These two books are more of my favorites. They go together pretty good, despite being a bit different. Web Design Expert teaches the mechanics of design, and a ton of useful techniques. How to Design and Build the Coolest Website in Cyberspace takes a different approach, walking you through the design process step-by-step. Both are great books, despite being published in 2001-2002. If you are new to the world of web design, check-out these books. They teach about the design aspect of web development in an enjoyable manner. I reread the books now and then, as they’re a nice source for inspiration.

  • Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds for Dummies by Ellen Finkelstein

    RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is one of the greatest web innovations of the last ten years. With RSS you can check your favorite websites for updates without even visiting them. You just open-up your RSS reader and skim through the entries. If you have ten or more websites you visit whenever you’re online, you should look into RSS. Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds for Dummies covers everything RSS novices need to know. Finding an RSS reader, subscribing to feeds, and creating your own feeds. RSS feeds are quickly becoming an expected feature of web sites. Don’t be criticized for not offering one! If you’re using blogging software like WordPress, you don’t have much work left to do. Most blogging software automatically generates an RSS feed for your site.

  • Podcasting Hacks by Jack Herrington

    The definition of ‘hack': to devise or modify (a computer program), usually skillfully” (from Dictionary.com). Therefore, a hacker is usually someone who improves their computing experience. Before the clueless media got to it, that was the dominant definition for the term. In the computer industry, it still means that. If you hear newbies using the wrong definition, feel free to correct them. Podcasting Hacks is the most definitive book I’ve seen on podcasting. Have you ever fantasized about having your own radio talk show? You may not be able to have a radio talk show, but you can have an online talk show. Listen to my favorite podcast and see if you’re still interested. It’s fairly easy to do something like that yourself. All you need is a computer, microphone, and some web hosting space. Podcasting Hacks goes in-depth on every podcasting-related topic imaginable. Everything you need to know is in the book.

  • PHP Hacks by Jack Herrington

    If you’re looking for a nice book on the basics of PHP, you don’t want this book. Brought to you by the author of Podcasting Hacks, PHP Hacks is a book about going beyond the basics of PHP. The book is a great companion to other PHP books, as well as a useful resource for more experienced PHP programmers. Learn how to create tag-clouds, HTML/Plaintext Emails, dynamic graphs, stylesheet switchers, thumbnail generators, login systems, friendlier URLs, and much more. The book has a lot to offer, and you can even download the examples from the publisher’s website. That feature alone is pretty cool. You can copy and paste code snippets from the book instead of typing them in, and there’s no stupid CD-ROM to lose.

  • Who Let the Blogs Out? by Biz Stone

    The lines are blurring between blogs and non-blogs. Head over to a site like EnGadget. It looks like any other news site, doesn’t it? Well, the definition of ‘blog’ has always been “a site with articles listed chonologically”. Never has ‘blog’ meant “online journal” (I can’t stand those). As a matter of fact, the term ‘blog’ could apply to nearly any news site on the web. Though Biz Stone seems to be a fan of online journals, the book in nonetheless an invaluable resource for beginning bloggers. If you’re interested in starting a blog, I recommend you read this book (and I also recommend you spend time reading some of the Technorati Top 100 blogs, and that you read my tutorial on starting a blog).