It isn't often you can call a technical book lovely, but this one is. The Zen of CSS Design is one of those rare books in which every element seems to come together in perfect balance and harmony. Kind of Zen, actually. In my admittedly inexpert opinion, this is the best book on web design to come out this year. For me personally, it's been the best I've ever read. I don't know if it is the result of a random congruency of time, level of learning and need, but this book has inspired and excited me about web design more than any other.
I'll make you bet. I'll bet you that, after finishing Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think, you will have a brief head-scratching moment when you think "Well, yeah. I knew all that. Sheesh. I just blew 35 bucks." A few moments later it will dawn on you that while, yes, you did somehow know most of what Krug says--or at least it seems you must have known it; it was all so obvious--you've never actually done much of what he suggests.
I am not a natural-born designer. Growing up in my family, I was the writer--the one who was good with words. It was my younger sister who was the artist, and heaven help us should we try to cross over into the other's territory. So no one was more surprised than me when I went into web design (well, maybe my younger sister.)
Without any formal design training and harboring the secret knowledge that I am not the artistic sister, the graphic design aspect of web design is the one that makes me most uncertain and nervous. Clearly, I can't stay in this profession without addressing my lack of knowledge.
I'm on my own when it comes to learning new software, and I've had a lot to learn. Recently I scoured Amazon and finally decided on Visual Quickstart's Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 by J. Tarin Towers. I haven't been sorry, and believe me, I've run the book through its paces.
For starters, I'd never before used a WYSIWYG editor. I prefer to code by hand because I feel I have better control over the page. I can make HTML do things no WYSIWYG has even heard of. But I had a client who used Dreamweaver and wanted their staff to be able to use it to update their new site.