Our lives revolve around the web, and much of what we do online we do on websites. This is why web designers are such sought-after professionals: they combine the creativity of digital artists with the coding skills of computer scientists to build websites that fosters an engaging user experience, provides an intuitive user interface, and effectively converts clicks to customers. Nowadays, every business and independent professional needs a website in order to establish credibility and drive sales, so expertise in web design can make you an agile job market candidate or enhance your current position.
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.
The 20 Best Web Design Books
HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites, 1st Edition by Jon DuckettBuy Now
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
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin KleonBuy Now
Design Is a Job by Mike MonteiroBuy Now
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: What Makes Them Click? by Susan WeinschenkBuy Now
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: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design by Brian D. MillerBuy Now
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 HarfordBuy Now
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: Crafting Rich Experiences With Progressive Enhancement, 2nd Edition by Aaron GustafsonBuy Now
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: HTML5 & CSS, 5th Edition by Terry Felke-MorrisBuy Now
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: Improving Flexibility and Protecting Against Worst-Case Scenarios With HTML5 and CSS3, 3rd Edition by Daniel CederholmBuy Now
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: Reverse-Engineering Beauty by David KadavyBuy Now
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, 3rd Edition by Jeffrey Zeldman and Ethan MarcotteBuy Now
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: Designing with Accessibility in Mind (Design Thinking), 1st Edition by Regine M. GilbertBuy Now
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.
Learning Responsive Web Design: A Beginner's Guide, 1st Edition by Clarissa PetersonBuy Now
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, 3rd Edition by Ben FrainBuy Now
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: The Workbook, 1st Edition by Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicolai Marquardt, and Bill BuxtonBuy Now
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 by Darryl KingBuy Now
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, 4th Edition by Jason Beaird, Alex Walker, and James GeorgeBuy Now
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.