Searching for the best web development books for beginners?
Look no further.
Opting for a web development book instead of an online course can be one of the smartest decisions you can make in the early days of your tech journey.
If you are serious about learning web development, you need to find learning resources that best support your learning style. If you get distracted easily when watching video tutorials and following online courses, books might be a better option for you.
Thus, books aren’t the best way for everyone. You need to be mindful of how you learn best.
Also, you want to learn the right tools that help you achieve your goals. If you haven’t already, check out my smart guide on which programming language to learn right now.
If you already know which tools and languages you want to learn, congrats!
In this guide, you will find my all-time favorite books for learning web design, web development, user experience (UX) design, and more.
Whether you are completely new to web development or have some experience under your belt, these books will help you see real progress faster. Let’s dive in!
Related articles you may want to read:
- 27 Best Web Development Courses (Free and Paid)
- Books vs. Online Courses: What’s Better For Learning Web Development?
- 120+ Free Places to Learn How to Code Online
Please note: This post contains affiliate links to products I use and recommend. I may receive a small commission if you purchase through one of my links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
The best web development books for beginners
- General web development guides
- HTML and CSS books
- User experience (UX) books
- Back-end web development books
- Productivity and workflow books
General web development and programming books
1. Coding All-in-One For Dummies (by Nikhil Abraham et al.)
If you’re only going to purchase one web development book, this should be the one. It’s actually nine books packed into one massive guide that covers everything from coding fundamentals to career paths to learning in-demand programming languages from scratch.
Here’s an overview of the topics you will learn:
- Coding basics for absolute beginners
- Coding career paths
- HTML and CSS
- Web application coding and debugging
- Data analysis with Python
- Machine learning basics
This book has been my go-to guide for years now. It covers so many topics that it’s often the only reference I need to make sure I’m not going to screw up anything.
Perfect for absolute coding beginners – my top recommendation!
2. Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide (by Jennifer Niederst Robbins)
Learning Web Design is an all-in-one beginner’s web development book for anyone who is completely new to tech and wants to build their own websites from scratch.
You will also learn how to use the Command Line, Git, and other nifty tools you will need in your daily work as a web designer.
If you have no experience with websites, this is a great introduction to the world of web development.
3. The Clean Coder (by Robert Martin)
This programming book comes with great tips for both learning how to code and launching a career in tech. Although the content is mostly focused on software development, it’s just as applicable to becoming a great web developer, too.
The Clean Coder doesn’t teach you any specific programming language. I repeat: you won’t learn how to code a website project per se.
Instead, the book teaches you how to become a professional developer, deal with the ups and downs of your projects, manage your time, and work more productively.
This guide helped me gain more confidence in what I can create with code. It showed me how to get over writer’s block – which I struggle with way too often.
4. The Self-Taught Programmer (by Cory Althoff)
If you are new to learning how to code, The Self-Taught Programmer will make your journey easier. If you started learning web development already but feel overwhelmed, this book will show you what to do next.
The key takeaway from this book is: learning how to code is much more than knowing how to write code. You need to understand the bigger picture, and see how everything is connected.
The Self-Taught Programmer is an easy roadmap for learning how to program from scratch, building your first real programs, understanding computer science basics, and practising your skills to get job-ready.
(And Cory, if you happen to read this, thank you for writing this book! Big fan here!)
Recommended web development guides:
- Work In Tech: How to Become a Web Developer?
- What Does a Web Developer Do?
- What Is The Best Programming Language For Web Development?
HTML and CSS books
5. HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites (by Jon Duckett)
Excellent starting point for learning HTML and CSS. Written for readers with no experience, easy to follow. Covers both the basics as well as more advanced topics, and responsive design.
Explains the topics very thoroughly, with beautiful visuals and illustrations to help you understand how HTML and CSS work. I cover all the details in my full review of this book.
6. A Smarter Way to Learn HTML & CSS (by Mark Myers)
This HTML and CSS guide is perfect for absolute beginners who want to learn these languages fast and build their first HTML/CSS web pages quickly.
You will find free interactive online exercises to learn the fundamentales, and spend most of your time practising. Perfect for anyone who wants to start writing HTML and CSS code right away instead of spending hours reading about it.
7. HTML & CSS QuickStart Guide (by David DuRocher)
If you feel like HTML and CSS are too difficult to learn, this quickstart guide shows you an easier, more simple way to master both languages.
You will learn how HTML and CSS work, what you can build with them, and how to design responsive web pages. Also, you’ll set up your working environment, learn how version control works with Git, and get an introduction to Bootstrap.
So this not just and HTML and CSS book. You will walk away with a bunch of useful skills for building beautiful websites from scratch.
Recommended HTML and CSS guides:
- What Is HTML? Should You Learn It?
- How To Learn CSS Basics: Beginner’s Guide
- 4 Essential Skills To Become A Front-End Web Developer
I just finished this book a few weeks back and I wish I had ordered it when I started learning how to code. If you are new to web development and want to start a career in tech, this is one of the best books you can get.
This book gives you a fantastic starting point for building complex websites for your own projects. Even if you are new to web development, this single book can take you a long way.
Just like the HTML and CSS guide by Jon Duckett, this book has a clear, clean layout, and an easy-to-follow structure throughout each chapter. Want both books? Then get the 2-book bundle.
You will go through the theory parts very quickly, and spend most of your time practising and learning by doing. If you prefer hands-on exercises to monotone reading, this book is perfect for you.
13. You Don’t Know JS Yet (by Kyle Simpson)
The first edition of these books was published in 2014 and 2015. The first two parts have been published, with the remaining four to be released soon.
The good news is: you can access these guides for free on GitHub. But if you prefer a physical copy for quicker referencing, you can order them online.
Get your copy here:
14. The Road to React (by Robin Wieruch)
The Road to React teaches you how to identify a problem and solve it with code. So you won’t just learn how React works, but also how to apply it for solving real-life problems. Each chapter gives you the opportunity to practice your skills with hands-on exercises.
By the end of the book, you will know how to build a full-scale React app from scratch. Even if you are completely new to React development.
User experience (UX) books
15. Don’t Make Me Think (by Steve Krug)
If you are new to web development, I recommend that you read this fundamental user experience (UX) book before you even start learning your first programming language.
This guide shows you how to create easy-to-use, intuitive web projects that the end users enjoy. In other words: you will learn how to build and design websites that people love.
While some of the insights are self-explanatory and obvious, this book does a great job at explaining why that is. You will walk away with easy but powerful tools for designing enjoyable user experiences for both web and mobile.
Back-end web development books
If you want to build dynamic web applications and data-driven website projects, this back-end web development book helps you get started.
In each chapter, you will learn a specific topic and tool, and by the end of the book, you will put everything together to build a social network website of your own. This practical projects is a fantastic basic foundation for building more complex web apps with your skills in the future.
17. Python Crash Course (by Eric Matthes)
Python Crash Course is a project-based, hands-on guide for anyone interested in learning Python programming without any experience.
The first half of the book teaches you the fundamentals and how Python works. The second half includes three real-world projects, and one of them is a web application you will build using the Django framework.
This book was my fist contact to coding and web development back in 2016. Read more in my full review of Python Crash Course.
I absolutely loved how quickly I was writing code and creating my own small Python programs. The final web app project was a great introduction to building full-scale web applications with Django. Once you finish the project, you can start adding more features and functionalities to your web app.
18. PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide (by Larry Ullman)
Learn PHP 8 is a helpful guide for anyone new to web development, or anyone who knows some PHP but wants to learn more about PHP 8 specifically.
Each chapter teaches you the theory and syntax first. You will find quick, practical exercises within the chapters. At the end of each chapter, you have the opportunity to apply what you learned to more complex web app practice projects.
Recommended back-end development guides:
- What Is The Best Programming Language For Web Development?
- 12 Smart Reasons To Learn Python (When You Are New To Tech)
- Front-end vs Back-end Development: What Is The Difference?
Productivity and workflow books
20. The Power of Habit (by Charles Duhigg)
The Power of Habit is a universal guide to improving your regular habits in life, regardless of your job. The author shows you how certain habits can be detrimental to your well-being, and how most habits tend to form without us even knowing.
If you want to break some of your bad habits and learn new ones that help you thrive, this guide is the perfect place to start. The fundamental takeaway is: you need to understand how habits work to know how to get rid of what’s holding you back. That’s the key to forming habits that push you forward and help you make progress in life faster.
21. Deep Work (by Cal Newport)
Deep Work teaches you how to focus on things that help you achieve your goals in life. Whether you’re learning web development or anything else, this book can help you learn how to focus on what truly matters in a world full of constant distractions and stimuli.
If you’re anything like me, you sometimes get sidetracked from working towards your goals. Especially in tech, there are tons of distractions that can lure you into a “learning trap”. You start researching a certain topic, and before you know it you’ve spent hours and days browsing through online resources, and your actual work projects are in a standstill.
If that sounds familiar, Deep Work helps you maintain your focus. It’s a super helpful book for anyone regardless of what type of work you do. This book changed how I think of my job and helped me create a more meaningful career path for myself.
Recommended productivity and learning strategy guides:
- 10 Simple Tips For Learning To Code Faster
- I Learned To Code For 6 Months – This Is What I Achieved
- 17 Smart Tips For Learning Programming For Beginners
Final thoughts: The best web development books and guides for beginners
If you want to learn web development from scratch and start a career in tech, finding a project-oriented book is a great way to get started.
I’m a big fan of comprehensive tech books that I can use for quick referencing when I’m working on a project. Sometimes it just feel easier to have something tangible to look into instead of finding answers online.
It all boils down to how you learn best. Be mindful of what type of a learner you are, and find resources that best support your learning style.
Last but not least, bear in mind why you want to learn web development in the first place:
- What’s your long-term goal?
- What type of projects do you want to work with?
- Do you want a full-time developer job?
- Or do you want to become a freelance web developer and be your own boss?
Your goal determines what skills you should learn:
- If you want to work with data and build dynamic web apps, learn a back-end language such as PHP, Python, or Ruby.
If you’re looking to work from home and make some money with your web dev skills, definitely check out my beginner’s freelancing guide. It walks you through the exact steps I took to become a full-time freelance web developer back in 2016–2017.
So, what’s it going to be? Which web development book will you start with?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Happy learning & talk soon,