The 10 Best Web Design Books

Updated June 06, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

Development and Foundations
Responsive with HTML5 and CSS3
HTML and CSS
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Although many web design tutorials are online-only these days, we understand that some people prefer to hold a real book in their hands while they're studying. That's why this list points users towards manuals that contain evergreen concepts and new information about this fast-changing field. Whether you're a visual learner or already a technical whiz, these choices will help improve your skills. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best web design book on Amazon.

10. Visual QuickStart Guide

If you're trying to learn HTML and CSS in a big hurry, the Visual QuickStart Guide is presented in an easy step-by-step format. Though it does not cover scripting or more current particulars, it does explain how to structure and lay out pages, and how to debug your code.
  • contains a lot of examples
  • addresses input types in html5
  • writing can be unfocused
Publisher Peachpit Press
Model n/a
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Responsive with HTML5 and CSS3

Emphasizing use of the Flexbox layout mechanism, Responsive with HTML5 and CSS3 explains how to create sites that flow seamlessly from a desktop to a smartphone. However, it is written in the first person, and with grammatical errors that are off-putting for some readers.
  • teaches css animation
  • shows how to use validations
  • relies heavily on internet links
Publisher Responsive with HTML5 a
Model n/a
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. UX for Beginners

Now that online sites have become more responsive than ever before, creatives have more possibilities for guiding a user's experience on their page or app. Accessible to all, UX for Beginners covers the conceptual and practical fundamentals, infused with a sense of humor.
  • contains 100 short lessons
  • functions well as a general overview
  • raunchy jokes offend some readers
Publisher O Reilly Media
Model n/a
Weight 12.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. WordPress for Beginners

Independently published but very up-to-date, WordPress for Beginners is a visual guide to a platform that is commonly used by many, but requires knowledge to make a page that truly shines. With over 250 screenshots, it's easy for anyone to promote their hobby or business.
  • explains tagging and scheduling
  • covers seo best practices
  • photos are in black and white
Publisher WordPress for Beginners
Model n/a
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Don't Make Me Think, Revisited

Containing multiple illustrations that make it fun to read, Don't Make Me Think, Revisited takes a common-sense approach so that people of any age or from any background can understand the basics. Clearly written, without jargon, it makes a tricky subject feel simple.
  • includes witty observations
  • information is very well organized
  • not enough real-world examples
Publisher New Riders Publishing
Model n/a
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

5. HTML and CSS

Jon Duckett's HTML and CSS guide has beautiful full-color information graphics and photos, which makes it a great reference manual for visual learners. Though it covers core concepts in an engaging way, its discussions of topics such as HTML5 and SEO are slightly outdated.
  • excellent for beginners
  • addresses front-end development
  • has not been updated since 2011
Publisher Wiley
Model n/a
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction

Updated for the mobile age, About Face: The Essentials of Interaction teaches readers how to compose for smartphones and tablets in addition to traditional websites. Containing an abundance of contemporary examples, this manual even focuses on touchscreen interactions.
  • covers best patterns and practices
  • very methodical approach
  • attractive full-color layout
Publisher Wiley
Model n/a
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Designing with the Mind in Mind, Second Edition

For those who are curious about the science behind the rules of making user interfaces, Designing with the Mind in Mind, Second Edition is an in-depth study of the aspects of cognitive psychology that will help readers make informed decisions across a variety of media.
  • covers budgetary issues
  • examples of good and bad layouts
  • writing is clear and concise
Publisher Morgan Kaufmann
Model n/a
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Development and Foundations

One of the definitive textbooks on the subject, Development and Foundations is the 9th edition of this manual. Dedicated students of the Internet will learn the newest techniques for creating cascading style sheets and code, aided by online practice exercises and games.
  • writer is a seasoned professor
  • includes an introduction to flexbox
  • can be bought or rented
Publisher Development and Foundat
Model n/a
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. A Beginner's Guide

Intended for true greenhorns, the fifth edition of A Beginner's Guide teaches readers the technical and artistic elements of customizing online layouts. In addition to covering HTML and CSS, updates include lessons on Flexbox, SVG image files, and making sites responsive.
  • contains information on java script
  • introduces tools used by developers
  • short quizzes at the end of chapters
Publisher O REILLY
Model n/a
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Are Web Design Books Useful?

With the predicted 27 percent growth in the field by the year 2024, web designers are needed now more than ever. Web design books remain one of the most effective ways to learn concepts of web design at an individual pace and in an economical way.

If the your intent is to become a professional web designer, self study is one of the best options. Specialty schools, professional tutoring, and apprenticeship all have a rather large price tag attached to them in comparison to books, and provide much the same knowledge. With a web design book, the reader has the ability to learn at their own pace, and repeat concepts as needed to fully integrate them.

Web design books are equally as important for business owners and entrepreneurs looking to enter the growing startup economy. In this environment, cutting costs until investors arrive is usually a key factor. As a business owner, it may be better to learn basic concepts of web design before hiring an expensive designer, especially for simple changes. Web design books remain the most effective and comprehensive tool to do so.

What Is Covered In Web Design Books?

In the web design world, there are some concepts which must be understood before reaching the finer points of designing for the web. For instance, the idea of visual hierarchy. This is based on the known fact that in most cultures, people read in a similar way: left to right and top to bottom. This suggests that viewers favor the top and left sides of webpages. With this logic, it is easy to see why the company logo is nearly always found in the top left corner of the site.

From there, viewing behavior becomes more complex. Viewers tend to scan a page rather than read it, and their eyes typically move in a pattern similar to the shape of the letter F or the letter Z. Basic web design will usually cater to this and place the most important elements of the site in their natural viewing path.

Web design books may also cover the importance of color in design. Rather than being a decoration on a website, color may actually play an integral role in the psychological response a consumer has to a particular brand. An example is the notion that the colors red and yellow stimulate the appetite and promote quick decision making. It is interesting to note that the most successful fast food chains use heavily red and yellow color schemes.

Any basic web designer will also need to understand the beauty in the simplicity of a site. It can be tempting to try and force a site to stand out by using many different fonts, highly contrasting color schemes, or bright animations. Research in the field tells us that this may scare away the same customers the site is trying to impress. A much more positive impression can be made by limiting font and color choices to two or three dominant options, and to shift the focus towards simplicity in the text.

How Important Is Web Design For A Business?

As the internet era took hold, the need for web designers exploded. This need is as present today as ever. Now that a website is an integral piece of a business's brand and strategy, its design is an important factor in their success for many reasons.

Proper web design offers a business a consistent image, or brand. Over time, viewers begin to identify with this image. This brand awareness is actually a determining factor in whether or not a customer will choose a particular company. Consumers are much more likely to purchase from a brand they identify with versus an unknown brand offering a similar product or service.

In the modern era, most markets are saturated. Consumers are bombarded with advertisements, social media posts, invites, and push notifications from hundreds of different brands and businesses every day. The only way to stand out in a customer's mind is by differentiating your brand somehow. One of the simplest ways of doing this is through unique web design elements. A professionally designed website is much more appealing to the viewer, and is more likely to keep them reading as well as help build trust in your product or services. This increases the chance of them converting into a lead, or better yet a customer.

Controlling the customer journey is one of the most important aspects of web design. Most people put as little effort as possible into reading the contents of a site. This is why it is so important that the content and design match up. Proper web design will empower the content to catch the eye of the reader, keep them reading, and lead them to the desired action.

Web design can also help to properly target the correct audience. Some target audiences respond well to a minimalist design, while others like things spelled out for them. Some readers require heavy logic and well-researched text, while others are affected solely by the emotional elements of web design. Understanding web design enough to create a site based around the target audience will ensure its success.


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Last updated on June 06, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.


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