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Web designers are sought-after professionals who combine the creativity of digital artists with the coding skills of computer scientists to build effective, engaging websites. Enrolling in a web design degree program will provide a solid foundation for pursuing a career as a web designer, but supplemental learning can help you take your skills to the next level.

The picks on this list cover the many aspects of web design, including essential programming languages like HTML and Javascript, design principles for making user-friendly websites, and the business side of web design. Students can use the books on this list as required or supplemental reading to help them become well-rounded, professional web designers.

Learn how we picked the best web design books.

The 20 Best Web Design Books


HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites, 1st Edition by Jon Duckett

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Jon Duckett’s HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites is an excellent starting point for folks interested in web design. What sets the book apart is its accessibility: it’s designed to suit the needs of everyone, from students and hobbyists to professionals. The book is colorful and amply uses visuals to aid your learning and keep you engaged

Learning Web Design

Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics, 5th Edition by Jennifer Robbins

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Learning Web Design is a friendly guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and web graphics. Although it’s designed for beginners, it is thorough enough to be used as a reference for more experienced professionals. Each chapter includes exercises and short quizzes, making it a good book for classroom learning or self-study.

Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

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While many of the books on this list focus on teaching you to use tools like CSS and JavaScript, Steal Like an Artist takes a different approach. The book presents 10 principles of creativity that can help you reconnect with the artist within and make the most of the creative possibilities of the digital age.

Web Design With HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Web Design With HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set by Jon Duckett

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Web Design With HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set is a two-book set for front-end developers and web designers. These books cAn help you build a solid foundation in HTML and CSS before progressing to Javascript and jQuery. They’re beginner-friendly and feature engaging graphics and visuals as well as accessible, nontechnical language.

Design Is a Job

Design Is a Job by Mike Monteiro

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Design is a Job is all about the business of design. Author and veteran designer Mike Monteiro argues that understanding the business of design is just as important as mastering the craft of design. You’ll learn everything from how to locate and engage with clients to how to use contracts, manage feedback, and get paid.

Neuro Web Design

Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? by Susan Weinschenk

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Neuro Web Design explores the “neuro-marketing” concepts that explain why and how people shop online, register for your email newsletter, and trust the information on your blog. Author Susan Weinschenk applies the most current research on motivation, decision-making, and neuroscience to the design of websites, helping you design a site best suited to your goals.

Above the Fold

Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design by Brian D. Miller

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Above the Fold teaches you the fundamentals of effective graphic communication, specifically in web-based contexts. This book explains that successful web designers are well attuned to the interplay between designers, users, and clients. This is not a technical book or how-to manual; instead, it’s about the timeless principles of design and how they apply to the digital world.


Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford

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Written by The Undercover Economist author Tim Harford, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure argues in favor of an adaptive trial-and-error based approach to problem-solving. Drawing on research from fields as diverse as biology, anthropology, and economics, Hartford explains what you need to consider in order to turn failure into success. The book provides lessons that apply to many domains, including web design.

Adaptive Web Design

Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences With Progressive Enhancement, 2nd Edition by Aaron Gustafson

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Adaptive Web Design teaches you how to use progressive enhancement to build websites that work anywhere, on any device, and will continue to work into the future. You learn how to use all the tools of web design to give users the greatest experience possible and to minimize errors. This is a solid resource for professionals in the field.

Basics of Web Design

Basics of Web Design: HTML5 & CSS, 5th Edition by Terry Felke-Morris

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Basics of Web Design: HTML5 & CSS is, as the title suggests, a foundational introduction to web design for beginners. The book balances “hard” skills like HTML and CSS with “soft” skills like web design and publishing. Not only will you find actionable information but also exercises and case studies in the book.

Bulletproof Web Design

Bulletproof Web Design: Improving Flexibility and Protecting Against Worst-Case Scenarios With HTML5 and CSS3, 3rd Edition by Daniel Cederholm

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Bulletproof Web Design teaches you how to build websites that run smoothly and effectively and that deliver a positive user experience. Each chapter begins with a critique of un-bulletproof code and then shows you how to make it leaner and more “bulletproof,” or capable of standing the test of time and performing well on all different devices. The newest edition incorporates HTML5 and CSS3.

Design for Hackers

Design for Hackers: Reverse-Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy

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Design for Hackers seeks to understand beautiful and effective design from the inside out. The book deconstructs some of the most beloved designs in the world, including Impressionist painting and Twitter’s interface, and “reverse engineers” them, working backward to discover how they came about, why they work, and what you can learn from them.

Designing With Web Standards

Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition by Jeffrey Zeldman and Ethan Marcotte

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Designing With Web Standards teaches readers how to use web standards — a set of standards, technical specifications, and best practices for the web — to design appealing websites. The book covers topics such as quality assurance, functionality, and accessibility guidelines, and it also includes useful information about HTML and CSS.

Inclusive Design for a Digital World

Inclusive Design for a Digital World: Designing with Accessibility in Mind (Design Thinking), 1st Edition by Regine M. Gilbert

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Inclusive Design for a Digital World discusses the importance of accessible, inclusive web design and teaches you how to build websites that all people, including those with disabilities or learning difficulties, can access. Professionals in product design, product development, content, and design have much to gain from reading this book.

JavaScript and jQuery

JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development, 1st Edition by Jon Duckett

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JavaScript and jQuery is a foundational front-end developer text that teaches you how to build engaging, interactive, interesting, and intuitive websites. The book is beginner-friendly and accessible to anyone with the ability to create a webpage using HTML and CSS. The book is fully illustrated and breaks down concepts into small, manageable chunks.

Learning Responsive Web Design

Learning Responsive Web Design: A Beginner's Guide, 1st Edition by Clarissa Peterson

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In Learning Responsive Web Design, UX designer Clarissa Peterson explains how responsive web design works and how to ensure your site delivers a great user experience on all devices. This book walks you through the full process of responsive web design, from initial concept to site launch. It also incorporates progressive enhancement.

Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS

Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS, 3rd Edition by Ben Frain

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Written in a friendly, informal style, Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS delivers a comprehensive understanding of responsive web design and how to make the best use of HTML5 and CSS. Anyone — from full-stack developers and front-end developers to novice web designers who want to build their skill set — can find value in this book.

Sketching User Experiences

Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook, 1st Edition by Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicolai Marquardt, and Bill Buxton

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Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook is an approachable book for UX sketching beginners. This workbook is best suited to students and novices; professional web designers will probably find it too rudimentary. The text is practical, action-oriented, and hands-on, and works well both in classrooms and in self-study environments.

The Complete Website Planning Guide

The Complete Website Planning Guide by Darryl King

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The Complete Website Planning Guide shows website owners and agencies how to easily create blueprints — scopes — for client websites so that you have a solid framework to build from. The book lays out a step-by-step process you can use to plan your site ahead of time to ensure you cover all the bases, stay on budget, and don’t waste time or resources.

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, 4th Edition by Jason Beaird, Alex Walker, and James George

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The Principles of Beautiful Web Design focuses on the aesthetics of web design. It teaches you about layout, color palettes and themes, textures, typography, and choice and positioning of images. The book also features responsive web design techniques, pattern libraries, and sample projects to examine and learn from.

How We Picked the Best Books for Learning Web Design

To create our list of the best web design books, we first gathered a list of 132 web design books using the New York Times Bestseller List and other “best of” lists published by USA Today, Goodreads, and other publications. To narrow them down to this list of 19, we selected our picks based on popularity, including common recommendations and reviews, as well as utility. We included a mix of art-focused and code-focused books and selected texts for a range of audiences — from absolute beginners to seasoned professionals.

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Best Online Web Design-related Courses for Continuing Education

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.