- Books for learning web development still have their place in the ever-changing landscape of web development.
- Specializing in a popular framework can make you more marketable and allow you to work on existing projects.
- Even experienced web developers should continue learning and refreshing their skills through books.
Books for learning web development might seem a little old-school. Web development these days feels like the Wild West. There’s a plethora of different frameworks, tech stacks, and development tools available. And everything always seems to be changing so fast.
But even with the sheer number of learning resources out there, from YouTube to Udemy and everything in between, books still have their place. Whether you’ve been in web development and want to improve your skills or you’re just starting, we’ll list some great books for learning web development so you can hit the ground running.
What Should I Learn?
If you want to graduate from simply throwing together no-code websites with Wix and Squarespace, and actually build a real handmade product, you’ll need to learn web development. As much as there is available, it is possible to find a path and stick to it. Regardless of where you may end up in web development, there are a few things you should know. Let’s start from the beginning.
If you’re already on a solid foundation, then the next major step is to pick something to try. This can be a framework or full-stack, but ensure you choose something popular in the industry. You’ll have time to learn other frameworks once you have a marketable skill.
Angular, React, and Next.js are all great choices — but find the one that speaks to you. Knowing a popular framework means you’ll be able to work on existing projects. What’s nice is even if the framework you end up using is different than the framework you choose, there are a lot of similarities among the most used. Don’t worry much about specializing in the beginning.
After getting some experience in something that works, you should be able to advance your career. Once you’ve gotten that new job or amazing promotion, you’re not done! Web dev is a double-sided coin.
Even if you’re comfortable where you’re at, don’t stop learning! Even pros have a hard time keeping up with web development. Things are constantly changing, updating, and innovating. Keeping a few books on your shelf will help you stay fresh — pick one up for a quick read every now and then and refresh the fundamentals.
Our Recommendations for Web Development Books
Sure, web development can evolve, but the fundamental skills needed have been relative for the last few decades. To keep you on track, we’ll be recommending some books covering not only fundamental skills but also exploring what current frameworks offer.
- Best Overall: You Don’t Know JS Yet
- Best for Designers: Don’t Make Me Think Revisited
- Best for Practical Learners: HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites
- Best Book for Beginners: Learning Web Design
- Best for React Learners: The Road to React
Best Overall: You Don’t Know JS Yet — Kyle Simpson
|Great book for all skill levels
|One of a two book series
|Shapes fundamental skills
|Not a full web development resource
|Updated in 2020
Check out You Don’t Know JS Yet on Amazon.
Best for Designers: Don’t Make Me Think Revisited — Steve Krug
- Has something for developers of all levels
- Written by a pro in design
- Written very practical
- Fun to read
As important as all of the code is, web developers are programmers, designers, and artists all at once. Don’t Make Me Think Revisited is focused on making your designer and artist hats fit better.
Focused on helping you guide your users, this book covers principles of good design from an expert in the industry who worked with companies like Apple, Lexus, and Bloomberg.
|Written by a pro in design
|Published in 2013
|A short read (this can also be a con)
|Concept focused, no code
|Has something for devs of all levels
Check out Don’t Make Me Think Revisited on Amazon.
Best for Practical Learners: HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites — Jon Duckett
- Large info-graphics used to help simplify new or complex concepts
- Printed in full-color
- Code samples
- Each topic is presented on a new page for easy reference
This book is aimed at anyone trying to make a website, so it’s not as technical as you might expect. There still are technical aspects, but it’s not the focus of the piece. This book focuses on how you can structure your pages using these tools.
This goes hand in hand with other design books, as you can bridge the gap between what looks good in your mind, and how you can get that onto a screen. If you’re already familiar with HTML and CSS concepts, you might be able to skip this, but there’s always room to expand what you know.
|Published in 2011
|Fundamental concepts covered in detail
|Useful for all skill levels
Check out HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites on Amazon.
- Offers hands-on projects
- Covers many common issues
- Thoroughly revised third edition
- Requires beginner coding skills
If you want to produce top-tier code, the sections covered here will make you look like a pro with varied sections and tons of projects to complete. This book covers tons of common issues and eloquent ways to handle them.
|Published in 2018
|Offers hands-on projects
|Requires beginner coding skills
|Covers many common issues
- Lots of learning resources included
- Covers all necessary concepts
- Ideal for students and professionals
- Help you learn various techniques
Do you want to start web development but have no clue where to start? Well if the other options here seem too niche or overwhelming, Learning Web Design is the ultimate start guide. This book covers all aspects of web development.
For beginners, learning to code is intimidating. Almost every developer starts with a moment of “I have no idea where to start.” This book aims to alleviate that and walks you through step by step towards becoming a full web developer.
From the tools you’ll use to the advanced concepts you’ll need to master, this book has it all. If you’re only looking to buy one book from this list then start here!
|Covers all necessary concepts
|Redundant for intermediate skill levels and above
|Published in 2018
|Lots of learning resources included
Check out Learning Web Design on Amazon.
Best for React Learners: The Road to React — Robin Wieruch
- Beginner friendly
- Direct examples and problems solved in React
- Companion site available
- The digital version is updated regularly
If you want to learn a framework but aren’t sure which is right for you, try React. React is one of the most popular frameworks available and has held a serious market share since its release. The Road to React is a great resource to get started on all aspects of this framework.
This book is aimed at beginners but acts as a great resource for readers of all skill levels. Beyond just React, this book covers other concepts such as testing, optimization, and TypeScript.
If you want to jump right in as a beginner or get familiar with this framework past your fundamental skills, this is the book for you.
|The digital version is updated regularly
|Focused only on React
|Skips some fundamentals
|Companion site available
|Direct examples and problems solved in React
Check out The Road to React on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Books for Learning Web Development
The last thing you want to do is go out and buy every book on web development that you see. I made this mistake — and it led to a case of analysis paralysis. In other words, I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to start. There was just too much information.
If you’re just starting out, you want to take it slow and start small. I suggest just picking up one book to work through. As you learn, you can work on projects that put into practice all of the concepts you’ve learned. Only when you find that there are blank spots in your knowledge that one book just doesn’t cover, should you think of picking up more books. Because if you’re not making money as a developer yet, you really shouldn’t invest more money than you can afford.
What to Know Before Buying a Book
So, if you should only buy one book to start, what should you know first? Well, you really don’t need to know anything. Your first book can be your baby steps into the field. But you should know what your goals are and what you hope to achieve by getting the right web development book.
And just because we’re recommending books does not mean that you should shy away from video tutorials. They have their place. Some of my favorite channels on YouTube like Traversy Media, Fireship, and FreeCodeCamp have taught me worlds of information. But they’re better for quicker, more digestible lessons.
Using One of These Books: What it’s Like and How to Maximize Your Experience
The great thing with books — unlike video tutorials on YouTube — is that they stick around. You can refer to them again and again, no matter what you’re working on. Read through once, bookmark the points of interest or things that you want to try, and get to work on your project.
Take a book like Jon Duckett’s HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites. This one gives you all the ingredients you need but gives you free rein to build websites to your specs. You can follow along closely, or you can take only the elements that you want and create your own Frankenstein of a website. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t just read it and set it aside. Read a little, implement what you read, and come back to the book only when you run into problems.
Say, for example, you get to work on building a website. You can follow along up until the point of spinning up your environment and loading in some basic elements, and let your creativity fly once you get the groundwork down. Once you’ve exhausted all the information you can get out of a basic book, you can pick up a more advanced book and learn how to implement more complex functionality into the same project.
Spend just as much time coding as you do reading, and you’ll start to see something concrete come together. Before you know it, you’ll be job-ready (or freelance-ready, if you want to work for yourself).
The image featured at the top of this post is ©History-Computer.com/Tyler Von Harz.