Last time anyone’s checked, there are countless resources (both in print and online) for web designers who want to improve their skills or just need a refresher on what’s trendy and what’s outdated. However, a single person can’t read all those books, blogs, and articles between projects and meeting with clients. Maybe you’re not officially part of the industry yet but still have your hands tied with work, school, and family. Can’t someone narrow down the basics, highlight the best web design resources available, and cut you some slack for a change?

Well, I have good news for you.

I’ve been designing websites for over a year now, but along the way I’ve found some valuable resources—many assigned by teachers, others I found myself—which I continually turn to whenever I need help, guidance, or inspiration. I could write a long and redundant list of books and websites you can use, but why not make this short and sweet? Here are the three best web design books that should be required reading for every web designer at any experience level:

 

  1. HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites – Jon Duckett 41R9Qctt+bL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_

One thing most web design books fail to get right is providing information in consumable amounts. Either the content is written in page-length blocks of text, or the language used requires prior knowledge (or worse, a dictionary). Especially for those who aren’t yet fluent in HTML and CSS, the last thing they want is a book that confuses or bores them even more. Jon Duckett not only explains HTML and CSS in bite-size, easy-to-read steps and examples, but he does so by packaging them in a 500-page, gorgeously designed reference guide. The book is colorfully vivid and image-heavy, and at no point does Duckett undermine the intelligence of his readers. Instead he offers the most atypical and visually stunning textbook I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Seriously, you’ll want to have this book nearby when you’re stuck trying to position elements exactly where you want them on a web page. While you’re at it, check out Puckett’s book on JavaScript and jQuery, too.

 

  1. Don’t Make Me Think (Revisited): A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) – Steve Krug 51pnouuPO5L._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_

Here’s another guy who can explain web design concepts and still use a concise, conversational manner of language. The usability of a website is far more important than what it looks like, and Krug emphasizes that fact in this lean and charming book. Wildly popular since it was first published in 2000, Don’t Make Me Think will flip everything you thought you knew about web design and the user experience completely upside down, only to flip everything right side up again. Learning about intuitive site navigation and interface design has never felt so stress-free.

 

  1. The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Volume 3: Inspiration from Today’s Best Web Design Trends, Themes and Styles – Patrick McNeil

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On those days when I’m utterly mystified and unsure of what website design to create, I turn to The Web Designer’s Idea Book to rejuvenate my creative faculties. This book is part of a series written by web designer and programmer Patrick McNeil, but so far I’ve observed that Volume 3 is the most useful and desired among readers. With over 650 design examples to draw inspiration from, this guide is arranged thematically and delves into topics such as site structure, different frameworks, and popular site elements to include in your website. The only downside is the book’s publication date, which stretches waaaay back to April 2013. Yes, admittedly web design trends and styles are always a-changing, but I don’t use this book to “keep up with the times.” For me this book is an inspiration guide and an idea generator, and I’m not picky about how and where I get my creative boosts from.

*But seriously, don’t forget to stay updated on trends and styles. That’s pretty important.

 

What helpful books and resources do you think should be required reading for all web designers? If you’ve used any of the three books listed above, how much did you get out of the learning experience? Maybe you got nothing out of any them, but if that’s the case, make your thoughts known and leave a comment. Us web designers have to help each other out.

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