Stefan Baumgartner

Web ops, performance and front-end

My most favourite books in 2017

28 December 2017 by @ddprrt | Posted in: review

I started taking reading seriously again in 2017. I had highs where I read about 10 books a month (phew), and also lows where I haven’t touched a page for a couple of months. Now with having both a toddler and a Kindle*, I gladly spend night again guarding the crib while reading both fiction and non-fiction. And oh, did I read a lot of non-fiction this year. There were some amazing books, and I want to share with you the ones that I found the most compelling.

Alla Kholmatova - Design Systems

I just finished Alla’s book on Design Systems the other day, and it was an absolute delight. Design systems have always been a strong companion for my work. I created a lot on my own, I’ve contributed to even more, and I use them day in, day out. I opened up the first page of Alla’s book to find out that my understanding of design systems only scratches the surface. There’s so much more in a system beyond a well maintained pattern library. Design Systems helped me organising and structuring the tools I work on a day to day basis.

Before you even get to implementation details, you learn about design principles, functional and perceptual patterns, design system language. With lots of examples on how to collaborate on a shared system that is not only good documentation, but an invaluable tool for everyone in your company.

I have the feeling that Alla’s book is going to have a huge influence on the upcoming year for me, and I urge you to take a closer look as well!

Jeremy Wagner - Web Performance in Action

If you know my blog and my recent writings, you know that I’m a sucker for web performance. I just enjoy fiddling around with both front-end and server technologies to achieve even faster web sites. That’s why I was incredibly excited when I got a ticket for an early access program version of Jeremy Wagner’s Web Performance in Action

Web Performance in Action is huge! There’s just so much to explore! Jeremy not only manages to cover a very broad topic in impressive detail, he also creates a strong narrative and guiding thread from start to finish. Not an easy task, but one that Jeremy manages to fulfil on every level. Step by step, you are going to actively learn how to improve website performance and which options lead to what effect. Tremendous amount of knowledge and lots of things to look out for.

Plus, I had the pleasure of working with Jeremy on an article for A list apart. His knowledge and expertise goes way beyond what’s in the book. If you have any question performance-wise, he’s the one to go to.

Paul Boag - User Experience Revolution

Somehow connected to Alla’s Design Systems book, the User Experience Revolution by Paul Boag helps me a ton in my current state of affairs. There’s a huge difference in being labelled a UX focused company or being actually UX focused. The label alone doesn’t cut it, and Paul knows that pretty well.

By telling good stories, giving tons of examples, Paul shows you what it takes to drive your passion – User Experience – up to the highest levels inside your company or your client’s company. How to transform the mindset of not only everyone involved, but also everyone remotely connected to set UX in front of everything.

For me, he succeeds. Some of those stories seem like told right out of from my old agency days. Some tips you can follow directly. On the long run, this book is a good companion and guide for your own digital transformation. If you ever cared about UX beyond mere designs, and want to change the world (or at least your company), give this one a try.

Heydon Pickering - Inclusive Design Patterns

How can I create a list of my favourite reads and not mention Heydon’s Inclusive Design Patterns. Accessibility is a topic that concerns us all, even if we don’t expect it at first. An inclusive and accessible web should be our highest priority. Heydon’s book gives you a handy guide in how to make your apps and websites useable for even more people.

I already loved Heydon’s Apps for all, and Inclusive Design Patterns is a perfect follow up giving you a much broader spectrum of what’s necessary to achieve a more inclusive web. With his unique style and humour, Heydon manages to convey complex topics in an easy to understand manner, and makes me giggle all the way through. The illustrations are hilarious, and with every page you turn you recognize that not doing accessibility right is actually much harder for you in the long run.

A must read!


* “A Kindl und a Kindle” would be the most proper Austrian translation.

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