Reading list for modern web design

Over the years I've found some books on web design to be just as important as posts online. Here's a short post on books I've read, enjoyed and think are worth while reading in terms of web design today.

These books are fairly up to date but the methods used are solid and still valid into tomorrow.
By no means am I saying "read these and you're ready", or a definitive list of books I've read or think you should read. But if you're looking for books to tune your skills, this list may help.

I'd also encourage you to leave comments below to share books on web design you've enjoyed and have helped you too.


In case you've not stumbled onto this gem before, A List Apart is a great source of useful information. Their series of short books on A Book Apart offer great core skills such as:

HTML5 for web designers by Jeremy Keith.

Looking to get up to speed on HTML5? A core skill of modern web design is being able to use these new HTML elements with purpose.

CSS3 for web designers by Dan Cederholm.

Also a core tool on your belt is CSS3. Techniques such as rounded corners (with border-radius) and background gradients and more are all common place in modern design. These are made simpler with this book.

Responsive web design by Ethan Marcotte.

A brilliant intro to responsive web design, very useful techniques from the guy that coined the term "responsive web design"!

The above are just 3 of their books, it's worth checking out more. Hopefully this is a nice taste of books they offer and should help you learn the core skills needed to get started with modern web design.

On to other ranges of books, the following focus more on techniques, patterns, usability and inspiration.

Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS (SMACSS) by Jonathan Snook.

Another short book but front to back a great read full of useful info on writing and structuring css.
The patterns he talks about are simple and easy to follow, but make all the difference in creating maintainable css designs.
I can't recommend this book enough.

Any from the "Smashing Book" series.

Full of the latest modern techniques, inspiring articles and more.
Personally read books 1 & 3 but I'd bet the 2nd is worth wile too.
The Smashing Magazine website has been a constant source of useful info and inspiration for years.

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug.

If being able to build a site is the first step, then building it right is the second. This book goes over common web usability and is definitely worth the read.

Ready to dive into Javascript?

Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming by Marijn Haverbeke.

This book came out around 2011 but I wish it had been there back in 2008 when I first started Javascript. It's useful for getting started with Javascript, or fine tuning your skills and filling in any blanks.

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford.

Douglas Crockford gives a great run through of the language and the syntax to give you a solid understanding of programming with it.

Looking for something a bit deeper? Something for improving your developer skills?

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas.

If you're interested in levelling up your skills then this book may be for you. It covers patterns, methodology, solid ideas and tools to take your code to the next level. It's also surprising easy to follow as it's often ultimately about common sense.


I like a good newsletter or 10 for keeping up to date on the modern web. They're one way that's really helped me stay up to date especially over the past year. Maybe they will work for you too.

Sitepoint's Versioning newsletter is worth subscribing to if you're interested in a daily digest of latest web news.
Though this can be too frequent, Web Design Weekly, or Responsive Design Weekly are 2 great weekly newsletters also.
There are many others like this such as HTML5 Weekly, CSS Weekly, Javascript Weekly and eWebDesign newsletter.
My advice is to pick one and see if you like it. If not you can always un-subscribe :).

If you're working on an REC, here's some more links that may be of use for keeping up to date:

Please leave comments with books or posts online you'd recommend :), I'd love to hear about books that you've read and have helped you, along with inspiration for what I should read next.

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