Best Web Design Books

John Kopischke
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The advent of Rapid Application Development platforms and Software as a Service services has changed the game when it comes to web design. Web design has become a relatively low-risk endeavor that’s no longer necessarily reserved for the extreme design geeks.

NameCategoryProduct
Web DesignBest OverallWeb Design
Web Design All-in-OneBudget PickWeb Design All-in-One
Mastering Responsive Web DesignUpgrade PickMastering Responsive Web Design

1. Web Design

Our rating: 9 / 10

Web Design

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(Visual QuickStart Guide)

The book is not for complete beginners. It’s way too overcomplicated for people with absolutely zero background in web design, unless they have a lot of time to spend trying to read the entire book out and learn from it.

The PDF appendixes contain supplemental material on top of the book content.

2. Web Design

Our rating: 7 / 10

Web Design

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Pros:

  • Clear, straightforward, jargon-free explanation of principles of web design
  • Focuses on fundamental concepts, rather than delving into the intricacies of up-to-date trends in web design
  • Suitable for beginners who are completely new to the field of web design

3. Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to HTML

Our rating: 6 / 10

Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to HTML

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Pros:

  • Excellent for tutorials
  • Great breaks down of subjects

Learning Web Design by Elaine Weinmann, Jennifer Niederst, and Frédéric Schwartz is a great complement to any course on web design. It breaks down HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. into small chunks with bulleted text, examples, screenshots and illustrations. It’s a very easy and comfortable read, suitable for learning in your spare time.

The book is basically organized by topic, e.g. CSS Layout, rather than chronologically like it’s pre-cursor The Web Designer’s Idea Book. I found this organization much more helpful for anyone with little or no programming experience. You should probably read it after a course or two to get a better grasp of the details.

This book is probably best used for a quick reference. I found myself flipping through periodically to double check syntax, code snippets, etc. on the areas that were new to me.

4. The Complete Website Planning Guide: A step by step guide

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Complete Website Planning Guide: A step by step guide

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Pros:

  • Clear and concise book for newbies and non-techies
  • Lots of examples and easy to follow book
  • For project managers, marketing managers, entrepreneurs

Cons:

  • Can be slow for more experienced web devs
  • Doesn’t deal with large agencies or SEO

5. Web Design All-in-One

Our rating: 6 / 10

Web Design All-in-One

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I highly recommend this book for beginners who want to learn web design for the first time.

This book provides enough information to get you started with basic web design tasks and offers you a great foundation on which you can continue to learn more. It covers everything from setting up your own company to how to build your website, so you’ll learn about all aspects of web design.

This book is full of simple-to-follow exercises that will help you practice what you’ve learned at every stage of your learning process. The book is easy to read and organized in a way that helps you understand everything that you’re learning very easily.

6. Web Design Playground: HTML & CSS the Interactive Way

Our rating: 6 / 10

Web Design Playground: HTML & CSS the Interactive Way

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Pros:

  • Great for beginners with no programming knowledge
  • Lots of tips for HTML & CSS

This is a great place for beginners to start with online and web design. You learn all the tools you need to design a webpage. As a beginner, you need all the help you can get.

This book will teach you basic HTML and CSS, give you a cursory glimpse into HTML and CSS features and present several tips for you to polish your already existing skills.

7. The Principles of Beautiful Web Design: Designing Great Web Sites is Not Rocket Science!

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design: Designing Great Web Sites is Not Rocket Science!

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Pros:

  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful principles
  • Lots of examples
  • Good coverage of relative topics
  • Illustrations are nice

Cons:

  • Not enough screenshots
  • More on page layout design
  • Tends to repeat itself

8. Node.js Design Patterns: Master best practices to build modular and scalable server-side web applications

Our rating: 6 / 10

Node.js Design Patterns: Master best practices to build modular and scalable server-side web applications

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Pros:

  • Great book for experienced Node developers
  • It’s a thorough guide to web application design in Node.js

Cons:

  • It’s not a good book for beginners
  • Quite complex concepts which may be hard to understand

This is a popular book for Node beginners. In this book, you will learn about more than 30 design patterns that you will not find anywhere else.

Those patterns will help you immensely in the development of server side web applications that are stable, flexible, and scalable.

To be clear, this is not a beginner’s guide to Node. Still, it will be very useful to experienced developers who want to take their knowledge to the next level.

9. Web Design. The Evolution of the Digital World 1990–Today

Our rating: 5 / 10

Web Design. The Evolution of the Digital World 1990–Today

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Cultural History
  • Lots of Visuals
  • Plenty of Details

The book Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990- Today, it was published in 1997. It covers 20 years of web development and is a documentation of the revolution that the net has become.

This book was written by Horst Herrmann and Bernd Plessow.

The book addresses the history of the web throughout the 1990s and 2000s. It includes ideas that developers suggested to improve web design, and it is rich in facts and cultural history books.

10. Mastering Responsive Web Design

Our rating: 4 / 10

Mastering Responsive Web Design

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Pros:

  • One of the best teaching method in web design
  • The only book to get if one wants to start web designing or knows nothing about it.
  • Covers all the basics and perfectly touches all the necessary points.
  • Contains different techniques to create websites and also different web programs.
  • Shows how to follow unique coding techniques and how to go back to it when needed.
  • Has a website designing section with many designs, each having a complete course inside it, and each course explained by the author.
  • The other best part is that it focuses on mobile designing, which is the future in web designing. So grab this book and start learning website designing with a touch of mobile designing.
  • Talking from the view of a student, this book improved my topics in web designing, greatly. I learned many techniques about designing the GUI and CSS which help me a lot in my project. Also, the new designs introduced in this book were so cool and unique that that upgraded my designing skills to a great extent. All in all, I would definitely give this book a 10/10!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which is the best book for web designing?

What do professional Web designers use?

A common misconception is that most professional Web designers use Adobe Dreamweaver or Photoshop for most of their work. Although both tools are pretty ubiquitous among the design community, there are actually more than a few tools that are equally (if not more) popular.

If you’re just getting into Web design, it’s probably best to stick to the basics. Study the fundamentals of Web design first, and slowly build your skillset from there. Here are some of the most popular tools used by professional Web designers today:

Illustrator – Illustrator is a popular vector-based design application that is commonly used to create website mockups. This popular tool from Adobe also has the ability to adapt user interface designs for Flash and video use.

Do Web designers use templates?

While some web designers do use templates, in my experience most designers do prefer working from scratch, and as long as the client gives good direction and they have enough information about the project with proper time to conceptualize and plan the design, most stuff can be customized. I’ve worked with a few design agencies in the past that do use templates and this usually is a result of working with lots of different clients with inconsistent branding.

For me, I like working with a company that has a very active, in-house design team so we can have a direct back and forth about what the client wants and how I can design it to look best. Pre-made templates can typically be modified, but there can be some limitations (especially with premium templates from sites like Theme Forest or Theme Hat).

Is Web design still a good career choice?

Whether or not it’s still a good career choice, it certainly pays to be a web designer. The demand level for web designers is still through the roof, and salaries are staying consistently upward as well. That said, it’s a tough career choice for many to make.

If you’re considering web design as your career choice, expect to be in college most of your life. If you want to be a good designer, you have to stay on top of the current trends. That means you need to keep up with and teach yourself and others about the newest things that come out. Taking on schools for further education are not a bad idea, but you have to stay on top of the latest technology.

If you are able to keep up, a career in web design is a great choice that will pay you well.

Conclusion

Web design is vast, and it’s not surprising that many designers find it difficult to stay updated on all the latest trends and specialisations that are emerging. Here are the five best books that should help you get up to speed with the key fundamentals that will help you as a shade designer in today’s digital world.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Web DesignBest OverallWeb Design
Web Design All-in-OneBudget PickWeb Design All-in-One
Mastering Responsive Web DesignUpgrade PickMastering Responsive Web Design