50 Books Every Web Designer Should Read

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

–P.J. O’Rourke

It is well known that the web is constantly changing and evolving and you have to keep up with it. And besides the necessary skills, you have to improve other aspects of your life in order to succeed. For that, you can find a million webinars and online courses but nothing compares to a good book. Let’s live in offline for an hour a day at least.

Below you’ll find a list with some of the best web design books that will help you find the inspiration.

 

Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty

by David Kadavy

Many design books try to teach design through lists of “do’s” and “don’ts.” But hackers know you need a deeper understanding of something to really do it well. Design for Hackers takes apart design by “reverse-engineering” Impressionist painting, Renaissance sculpture, the Mac OS X Aqua interface, Twitter’s web interface, and much more. You’ll learn about color theory, typography, proportions, and design principles. This theoretical advice is mixed with concrete, actionable advice such as suggestions for color scheme tools, and a chart of “all of the fonts you’ll ever need”.


 

The UX Book

by Rex Hartson & Pardha Pyla

The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience aims to help readers learn how to create and refine interaction designs that ensure a quality user experience (UX). The book seeks to expand the concept of traditional usability to a broader notion of user experience; to provide a hands-on, practical guide to best practices and established principles in a UX lifecycle; and to describe a pragmatic process for managing the overall development effort.


 

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited

by Steve Krug

Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have relied on usability guru Steve Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it’s one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject. Now Steve returns with fresh perspective to reexamine the principles that made Don’t Make Me Think a classic–with updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability. And it’s still short, profusely illustrated…and best of all–fun to read.


 

JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual

by David Sawyer McFarland

JavaScript lets you supercharge your HTML with animation, interactivity, and visual effects—but many web designers find the language hard to learn. This easy-to-read guide not only covers JavaScript basics, but also shows you how to save time and effort with the jQuery and jQuery UI libraries of prewritten JavaScript code. You’ll build web pages that feel and act like desktop programs—with little or no programming.


 

Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook

by Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicolai Marquardt and Bill Buxton

The book discusses the differences between the normal ways to sketch and sketching used by user-experience designers. It also describes some motivation on why a person should sketch and introduces the sketchbook. The book reviews the different sketching methods and the modules that contain a particular sketching method. It also explains how the sketching methods are used.


 

Thinking with Type

by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type is the definitive guide to using typography in visual communication, from the printed page to the computer screen. This revised edition includes forty-eight pages of new content, including the latest information on style sheets for print and the web, the use of ornaments and captions, lining and non-lining numerals, the use of small caps and enlarged capitals, as well as information on captions, font licensing, mixing typefaces, and hand lettering. Throughout the book, visual examples show how to be inventive within systems of typographic form—what the rules are and how to break them.


 

Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

by Susan Weinschenk

“While you’re reading Neuro Web Design, you’ll probably find yourself thinking ‘I already knew that…’ a lot. But when you’re finished, you’ll discover that your ability to create effective web sites has mysteriously improved. A brilliant idea for a book, and very nicely done.”
— Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think!
A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability


 

Designing for Emotion

by Aarron Walter

Make your users fall in love with your site via the precepts packed into this brief, charming book by MailChimp user experience design lead Aarron Walter. From classic psychology to case studies, highbrow concepts to common sense, Designing for Emotion demonstrates accessible strategies and memorable methods to help you make a human connection through design.


 

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

by Austin Kleon

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.


 

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

by Jocelyn K. Glei

Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office? The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.


 

Adaptive Web Design

by Aaron Gustafson

“Adaptive Web Design not only provides the clearest, most beautiful explanation of progressive enhancement I’ve ever read, it’s also packed full of practical know-how pumped directly into your neocortex through Aaron’s warm and friendly writing style. If you aren’t already using progressive enhancement to build websites, you soon will be.” –Jeremy Keith, Author, HTML5 for Web Designers


 

Bulletproof Web Design

by Dan Cederholm

No matter how visually appealing or content packed a web site may be, if it doesn’t reach the widest possible audience, it isn’t truly successful. In Bulletproof Web Design, Third Edition, bestselling author and web designer Dan Cederholm outlines standards-based strategies for building designs that can accommodate the myriad ways users choose to view the content.


 

HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

by Jon Duckett

Every day, more and more people want to learn some HTML and CSS. Joining the professional web designers and programmers are new audiences who need to know a little bit of code at work (update a content management system or e-commerce store) and those who want to make their personal blogs more attractive. Many books teaching HTML and CSS are dry and only written for those who want to become programmers, which is why this book takes an entirely new approach.


 

LinchPin: Are You Indispensable?

by Seth Godin

Few authors have had the kind of lasting impact and global reach that Seth Godin has had. In a series of now-classic books that have been translated into 36 languages and reached millions of readers around the world, he has taught generations of readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. In Linchpin, he turns his attention to the individual, and explains how anyone can make a significant impact within their organization.


 

Rework

by Jason Fried and Davin Heinemeier

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of “downsizing,” and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.


 

A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web

by Mark Boulton

A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web aims to teach you techniques for designing your website using the principles of graphic design. Featuring five sections, each covering a core aspect of graphic design: Getting Started, Research, Typography, Colour, and Layout. Learn solid graphic design theory that you can simply apply to your designs, making the difference from a good design to a great one. If you’re a designer, developer, or content producer, reading A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web will enrich your website design and plug the holes in your design knowledge.


 

Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy

by Phil Barden

Phil Barden reveals what decision science explains about people’s purchase behaviour, and specifically demonstrates its value to marketing. He shares the latest research on the motivations behind consumers’ choices and what happens in the human brain as buyers make their decisions. He deciphers the ‘secret codes’ of products, services and brands to explain why people buy them. And finally he shows how to apply this knowledge in day to day marketing to great effect by dramatically improving key factors such as relevance, differentiation and credibility.


 

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

by Tim Harford

Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist, shows us a new and inspiring approach to solving the most pressing problems in our lives. When faced with complex situations, we have all become accustomed to looking to our leaders to set out a plan of action and blaze a path to success. Harford argues that today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinion; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex.


 

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

by Richard Thaler

Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given. They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society. Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful “choice architecture” can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. Nudge offers a unique new take—from neither the left nor the right—on many hot-button issues, for individuals and governments alike.


 

Content Strategy for the Web

by Kristina Halvorson

Without meaningful content, your website isn’t worth much to your key audiences. But creating (and caring for) “meaningful” content is far more complicated than we’re often willing to acknowledge. Content Strategy for the Web explains how to create and deliver useful, usable content for your online audiences, when and where they need it most. It also shares content best practices so you can get your next website redesign right, on time and on budget.


 

Choose Yourself

by James Altucher and Dick Costolo

The world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government. It’s all crumbling down. In every part of society, the middlemen are being pushed out of the picture. No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.


 

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover

Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.


 

Designing for the Digital Age

by Kim Goodwin and Alan Cooper

Designing successful products and services in the digital age requires a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in interaction design, visual design, industrial design, and other disciplines. It also takes the ability to come up with the big ideas that make a desirable product or service, as well as the skill and perseverance to execute on the thousand small ideas that get your design into the hands of users. It requires expertise in project management, user research, and consensus-building. This comprehensive, full-color volume addresses all of these and more with detailed how-to information, real-life examples, and exercises.


 

Design is a Job

by Mike Monteiro

Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, this brief book is packed with knowledge you can’t afford not to know.


 

Where Good Ideas Come from

by Steven Johnson

The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery–these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson’s answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.


 

Visual Design

by Jim Krause

Visual Design speaks design, through design, to designers, presenting 95 core design principles with concise text and a touch of visual wit. Author of the bestselling Index series on design basics, Jim Krause uses a combination of Helvetica and Dingbats to teach a wide range of design topics (both conceptually and compositionally related) in a one-topic-per-spread format. Using humor, practical tips, and inspiring visual examples, Krause makes it clear how each of the 95 axioms of effective design are relevant and applicable across all forms of visuals: print, Web, and fine arts.


 

Mobile Design Book

by Paula Borowska and Tomas Laurinavicius

Mobile Design Book is a quick guide to help you get familiarized with how to design great apps. We took a look at real apps to figure out what wonderful and terrible things they are doing. This way, you learn from real examples of designs that delight and designs that need a little love. It’s important to take note of design elements that ere done well and done poorly to keep improving!


 

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

by Richard Rumelt

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy clears out the mumbo jumbo and muddled thinking underlying too many strategies and provides a clear way to create and implement a powerful action-oriented strategy for the real world. Developing and implementing a strategy is the central task of a leader. A good strategy is a specific and coherent response to—and approach for overcoming—the obstacles to progress. A good strategy works by harnessing and applying power where it will have the greatest effect.


 

HTML5 & CSS3 For The Real World

by Alexis Goldstein, Louis Lazaris, and Estelle Weyl

HTML5 and CSS3 for the Real World is your perfect introduction to the latest generation of web technologies. This easy-to-follow guide covers everything you need to know to get started today. You’ll master the semantic markup available in HTML5, as well as how to use CSS3 to create amazing-looking websites without resorting to complex workarounds.


 

The Truth About Getting Things Done

by Mark Fritz

The Truth About Getting Things Done pulls together the most powerful ‘truths’ that encourage you to focus on doing what is really necessary. The ‘truth by truth’ format is in short and easy to digest chapters that make it quick and easy to find the advice that will make all the difference to your productivity. The Truth About Getting Things Done combines the success principles provided by many motivational books, as well as the practical ideas and tools for getting things done provided by time management books.  This book will inspire you to take action with it’s practical insights, ideas and examples.


 

Implementing Responsive Design

by Tim Kadlec and Aaron Gustafson

Implementing Responsive Design is a discussion about how this affects the way we design, build, and think about our sites. Readers will learn how to build responsive sites using a combination of fluid layouts, media queries and fluid media, how to adopt a responsive workflow from the very start of a project, how to enhance content for different devices and how to use feature-detection and server-side enhancement to provide a richer experience.

 

Introducing HTML5

by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp

Written by developers who have been using the new language for the past year in their work, this book shows you how to start adapting the language now to realize its benefits on today’s browsers. Rather than being just an academic investigation, it concentrates on the practical—the problems HTML5 can solve for you right away.


 

JavaScript Enlightenment

by Cody Lindley

If you’re an advanced beginner or intermediate JavaScript developer, JavaScript Enlightenment will solidify your understanding of the language—especially if you use a JavaScript library. In this concise book, JavaScript expert Cody Lindley (jQuery Cookbook) provides an accurate view of the language by examining its objects and supporting nuances.


 

Mobile First

by Luke Wroblewski

Former Yahoo! design architect and co-creator of Bagcheck Luke Wroblewski knows more about mobile experience than the rest of us, and packs all he knows into this entertaining, to-the-point guidebook. Its data-driven strategies and battle tested techniques will make you a master of mobile-and improve your non-mobile design, too!


 

Retinafy your Web Sites & Apps

by Thomas Fuchs

The book will show you a pragmatic approach to create great-looking sites without any guesswork or architecture astronautism. Information that is short, concise and to the point—with no extra fluff will get you started quickly. You’ll have your web site or app all retinafied in no time!


 

Everything I Know

by Paul Jarvis

Everything I Know is a no-rules guide through uncharted territory. It’s a swift kick in the creative ass without fairies, unicorns or new-age clichés. Paul Jarvis is the strategic and design talent behind some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and online businesses – including Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, Yahoo, The High Line and Mercedes-Benz – and he’s learned a thing or two about forging your own path in life and work. This book provides practical ideas and questions to help you conquer fear, overcome inertia, embrace vulnerability, validate your plans and launch even the most outlandish projects on a basement budget.


 

Seductive Interaction Design

by Stephen Anderson

What happens when you’ve built a great website or app, but no one seems to care? How do you get people to stick around long enough to see how your service might be of value? In Seductive Interaction Design, speaker and author Stephen P. Anderson takes a fresh approach to designing sites and interactions based on the stages of seduction. This beautifully designed book examines what motivates people to act.


 

Logo, Font & Lettering Bible

by Leslie Cabarga

Why be a designer who must rely upon preexisting typefaces and clip art when you can become the kind of designer who creates logos, fonts and lettering of your own? Leslie Cabarga, author of the bestselling Designer’s Guide to Color Combinations, has created a textbook of type for the experienced graphics professional as well as the beginning student of design.


 

Stunning CSS3

by Zoe Mickley Gillenwater

CSS3 adds powerful new functionality to the web’s visual style language to help you create beautiful and engaging designs more easily than ever. You’ll learn how to accomplish these effects and more by working through a series of practical yet cutting-edge projects. Each chapter walks you through standalone exercises that you can integrate into projects you’re working on, or use as inspiration. You’ll learn all of the most popular, useful, and well-supported CSS3 techniques.


 

Made to Stick

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)–the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.


 

The Elements of Content Strategy

by Erin Kissane and Kristina Halvorson

Content strategy is the web’s hottest new thing. But where did it come from? Why does it matter? And what does the content renaissance mean for you? This brief guide explores content strategy’s roots, and quickly and expertly demonstrates not only how it’s done, but how you can do it well. A compelling read for both experienced content strategists and those making the transition from other fields.


 

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

by Jason Beaird and James George

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design is the ideal book for people who can build websites, but are seeking the skills and knowledge to visually enhance their sites. This easy-to-follow guide is illustrated with beautiful, full-color examples, and will lead you through the process of creating great designs from start to finish.


 

The Elements of Typographic Style

by Robert Bringhurst

Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide. Combining practical, theoretical, and historical, this book is a must for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with the printed page using digital or traditional methods. Having established itself as a standard in its field The Elements of Typographic Style is house manual at most American university presses, a standard university text, and a reference work in studios of designers around the world. It has been translated into italian and greek, and dutch.


 

The Elements of User Experience

by Jesse James Garrett

The Elements of User Experience cuts through the complexity of user-centered design for the Web with clear explanations and vivid illustrations that focus on ideas rather than tools or techniques. Jesse James Garrett gives readers the big picture of Web user experience development, from strategy and requirements to information architecture and visual design. This accessible introduction helps any Web development team, large or small, to create a successful user experience.


 

Winning without Losing

by Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Milne

Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Milne are here to show you how to build your business into something big, sustainable and widely recognized – and still lead a happy, whole and balanced life. In 66 short insights, they reveal strategies and methods which will allow you to combine professional success with putting friends, family and happiness first. Their Efficiency Boosters will increase your effectiveness, while you’ll learn all about how to avoid Time and Energy Wasters and build a New Mindset that gives you to optimism and enthusiasm needed to succeed.


 

The Shape of Design

by Frank Chimero

The Shape of Design is a short, accessible book about the creative process and the intersection of storytelling, craft and improvisation. The Shape of Design is a map of the road where we dance rather than a blueprint of it. It strives to investigate the opportunities of exploring the terrain, and it values stepping back from the everyday concerns of designing. It attempts to impose a meaningful distance in order to patterns in the work and assess the practice as a whole.


 

The Laws of Simplicity

by John Maeda

Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We’re rebelling against technology that’s too complicated, DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte “read me” manuals. The iPod’s clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that’s simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design — guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.


 

Color Messages and Meaning

by Leatrice Eiseman

This guide explains the emotional response to color and covers the latest guidelines for effective color combinations including the integration of color trends. With up-to-date visuals and printing formulas to eliminate guess-work, this guide empowers and equips its users to make smart informed decisions.


 

Universal principles of design

by William Lidwell, Kristina Holden, and Jill Butler

Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated is a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary encyclopedia of design. Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, it pairs clear explanations of every design concept with visual examples of the concepts applied in practice. From the “80/20” rule to chunking, from baby-face bias to Occam’s razor, and from self-similarity to storytelling, every major design concept is defined and illustrated for readers to expand their knowledge.


 

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

by Simon Sinek

START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

 

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5 thoughts on “50 Books Every Web Designer Should Read

  1. I personally recommend “Design Thinking Methodology” by Emrah Yayici is one of the best book available for web designers. Note: I am in now way advertising or affiliating the book, as a fellow web designer it’s my responsibility to share.

  2. Great list. Really thank you. I am also a writer, started to write in college as a freelance writer. So i know how hard it is to write a review like this one. But when you get feedback from our readers and see, that your article is really useful it gives you a lot of motivation to write more and more. What i also like here is links to places where we can buy books listed. So really thank you. You did a great job!

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