Learning HTML and CSS are the very first steps for anyone interested in creating real-life websites from scratch. If you’re just getting started with learning about web development, you might be looking for a suitable book to teach you the necessary tools. In today’s post, I’m reviewing my new favorite web dev basics book, HTML & CSS Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett. It’s been my faithful companion for quite some time now – I only wish that I had found it at the very beginning of my web dev journey! If you’re looking for an HTML and CSS book to learn the basics and more, keep reading!
Alright, let’s get started!
Please note: this post is based on my own opinions – I didn’t receive a free copy of the book to write this review. However, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, If you buy any courses or products using these links, I’ll receive a tiny commission (at no extra cost to you). But, as always, please only consider buying tools that you really think will help you reach your goals. Thank you for your support!
First impression: Engaging, beautiful layout
Obviously, the first thing that catches your eye with this book is that it’s not only packed with great content but it also looks great! When I first was browsing through it, what really impressed me was how nicely each single page was laid out. Definitely not cluttered, very easy to read, and not afraid to use an entire page for explaining a certain topic using visual elements.
To get a better idea of how the book looks, head on over to Amazon and use the “Look Inside” feature! (It’s copyrighted content, so I can’t show you photos, sorry!)
The book retails at about $30 and I got it directly from Amazon. Considering we’re talking about a book on the very basic tools for creating websites from scratch, it’s a great piece to have as a reference and “dictionary” for HTML and CSS. First impression: great value for my money.
In fact, it’s like a breath of fresh air in the web dev book section. The appealing layout makes it easier to read for those of us who aren’t that into mind-numbing technical blah-blah and boring, trivial code examples.
So far so good!
Who is this HTML and CSS book for?
Basically, this book is a great choice for anyone interested in learning HTML and CSS from scratch.
Also, it’s a nice piece of reference to have on your shelf if you already know HTML and CSS. As I mentioned above, the book is very well structured for beginners and more advanced developers, too.
If you are a complete beginner with web development and you’re interested in building a website for yourself or becoming a professional web developer, this book will teach you all you need to know about HTML and CSS.
Moreover, if you’re already running a website using a CMS like WordPress, for example, learning HTML and CSS will definitely give you more control over how your website works. Both in terms of content as well as design, look, and feel.
When I first started reading it, I was already taking an online course in HTML and CSS. So why get a book then? Simply because I love having a more tangible resource for learning, too. It’s sometimes much easier to look up something in a book than finding a timestamp in a video lecture within an online course.
What does the book include?
HTML & CSS
The first half of the book is all about the very fundamental building block of the Web: HTML. You will learn how you can create and structure the contents for your websites. After that, the second half of the book covers CSS, teaching you how style and format your HTML contents. Basically, you will learn how to design visually appealing and user-friendly websites from scratch.
Later on in the book you will find a short chapter on the new web page elements of HTML5. It’s a great introduction to what we can expect to become a standard in the future.
Process & Design
Towards the end of the book, there’s an entire chapter about how to approach a website project, how to plan it efficiently, and how to understand your target audience better.
For anyone who is just beginning to build awesome web experiences, this chapter is actually very helpful. You will basically grasp how to build a successful, professional website that will help you achieve your goals.
Practical Information Chapter
At the very end of the book, you will also learn the basics of another hot topic: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This chapter will walk you through how to use analytics to understand what your visitors are doing on your website. Also, it will explain how you can put your site online.
All in all, despite being a few years old, the contents of the book are still more or less nicely up-to-date.
Perhaps the only thing that is missing in the book are lessons about responsive web design, which is an important topic for anyone creating websites these days.
What I loved about this book
Colorful design and images
I’m definitely a very visual person, especially when it comes to learning. It’s sometimes difficult to find an HTML and CSS book that is actually appealing to look at.
With most coding books in general, my problem has been the lack of visual elements to support the actual theoretical text content. Usually you just see lots of text, but the visual side of it all is sometimes neglected. Surely, this has to do with costs: printing in colour on high-quality paper simply makes a book more expensive to produce.
With this HTML and CSS book though, you’ll enjoy bright, colorful, full-page images more than often enough. You will see them as demonstrations, examples, and summaries of specific topics. So whenever you feel like you’d like to see how something looks on a display, this book delivers just that.
10 points for images!
Practical real-world examples
The images in the book are packed with real examples of actual websites and layouts. It’s a great way of actually seeing what you’re going to create with you HTML and CSS markup.
Visually appealing, airy layout
I’ve come across quite a few coding books where every page is used to the last corner of space. You know, no margins, limited white space, and uniform typography through and through. Not only is such a layout extremely unappealing to the eye, but it also makes you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.
When it comes to breaking the pattern of cluttered layouts, this book is a positive surprise. Each page has been laid out with plenty of white space to go around. Each chapter and topic is broken up into bits that are really easy to both read and learn.
I really like how it’s easier to read but also it makes me feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. Not having to spend too much time on one page gives you the feeling of learning more quickly. Of course, I don’t mean that publishers should waste page space, but sometimes the payback can be bigger than the extra cost. For instance, in this book, each individual page is dedicated to a single topic only. Therefore, it’s easy to navigate through the book and not get distracted on what’s further down the page.
Thorough, detailed explanations
Furthermore, this book explains all the different commands and terminology on a very detailed level.
Sometimes an online coding course can make you feel confused with a video lecture packed with tech jargon and new terminology. With a book, on the other hand, you can always take your time when you’re reading about something completely new to you. You can re-read, review and come back to check up on something you aren’t quite sure about.
When you don’t have to look for the exact timestamp for a certain topic in a video lecture, you will simply save time and you can focus on learning and achieving your goals.
Review Summary: HTML and CSS Design and Build Websites
By now it’s quite obvious that I’m a big fan of this book. I just find it difficult to get your hands on a visually appealing web development book – until now. Only few tech-related books would make it to my coffee table, but this one is definitely likely to end up just there.
In short, it’s a book I enjoyed picking up over and over again, reading, and coming back to later. It manages to explain technical topics using engaging and attractive visual elements without compromising the educational quality of the actual contents.
Is this HTML and CSS book for you?
Yes, if you’re interested in becoming a web developer and already learned some HTML and CSS with a free online course, for example. By now, you are probably interested in finding the best resources to learn more. This book will deepen your knowledge and skills without having to find more than one source for further learning.
Yes, if you already know HTML and CSS, but need a go-to reference and resource to brush up your skills. Both of the languages are quite easy to learn but difficult to master. This book is simply a great reference for the future.
All in all, despite the light and airy layout of the book, this beginner-friendly book is packed with a lot of information and valuable content. I’m sure that if you knew nothing about neither HTML nor CSS and you read this book cover to cover, you’d definitely be ready to create a real-life website from scratch. (I told you this was a great book!)
For anyone who appreciates high-quality, beautiful, and engaging web dev books, this HTML and CSS book is pretty much the perfect choice. For a mere 30 bucks, you’ll learn new skills that could lead to new career opportunities or even the extensive freedom of freelancing as a web developer.
If I’m being quite honest, there’s only one thing I regret about getting this book. I should have bought it right away when I first started learning HTML and CSS to complement everything I was learning online.
Whenever you’re ready, head on over to Amazon to get your copy. Let me know how it works out for you in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book, too!
For some further resources to learn HTML and CSS, make sure you check out my recommended HTML and CSS courses and tutorials for beginners, too. Good luck and have fun!