Free Essential eBooks for Web Designers & Web Developers

Bradley Nice
Level Up!
Published in
9 min readJun 1, 2017

by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at — software documentation tool

There are thousands of books available for web designers and developers online. The great news is quite a lot of these books are available for free! And today I’ve collected my favorites for you!

CSS & HTML Essential Learning

Adaptive Web Design By Aaron Gustafson (HTML)

This isn’t just another web design book. It’s an essential and missing piece of the canon. Our industry has long needed a compendium of best practices in adaptive, standards-based design. And with the rise of mobile, the recent significant improvements in desktop and phone browsers, and the new capabilities that come with HTML5, CSS3, and gestural interfaces, it is even more vital that we who make websites have a reliable resource that tells us how to take advantage of these new capabilities while creating content that works in browsers and devices of all sizes and widely differing capabilities. This book is that resource. (Adaptive Web Design by Aaron Gustafson, Foreword)

Magic of CSS By Adam Schwartz (HTML)

The material in this textbook is intermediate-to-advanced. It assumes an understanding of the CSS syntax, cascading and inheritance, and commonly used selectors. It also assumes you’ve had enough experience with CSS to have learned not to make these common mistakes anymore. (Magic of CSS by Adam Schwartz, Preface)

A Guide to HTML5 & CSS3 By Ashley Menhennett

A Guide to HTML5 and CSS3 covers the basics of web development and it’s a great starting point whether your plan is to make websites, HTML5 mobile apps or games.

HTML Canvas Deep Dive By Josh Marinacci (HTML)

This eBook is built to showcase the power of modern web standards with interactive electronic texts. Everything you see is done with HTML, CSS and Javascript; bundled into book form with open source tools.

There are two sections in the book. First, there are reading portions where API is described with interactive examples. Then there lessons for building your own canvas apps.

HTML5 Canvas By Jeff Fulton

The second edition of HTML5 Canvas is geared towards a wide range of developers, from those who have never seen a Canvas to those who want to learn some intermediate-to-advanced ways to make use of the Canvas.

Every chapter has been revised with updated code and optimizations, as well as updates to address browser compatibility and other issues that have arisen over the past two years. The free online version includes 53 interactive examples and exercises.

Resilient Web Design By Jeremy Keith (HTML, EPUB, MOBI)

Let me quote the author:

Resilient Web Design, you might think that this is a handbook for designing robust websites. This is not a handbook. It’s more like a history book…

You won’t find any code in here to help you build better websites. But you will find ideas and approaches. Ideas are more resilient than code. I’ve tried to combine the most resilient ideas from the history of web design into an approach for building the websites of the future. (Resilent Web Design by Jeremy Keith, Introduction)

Pocket Guide to Writing SVG By Joni Trythall (HTML)

This guide is meant to provide a quick but thorough introduction to building SVG inline, and while it in no way covers all the available features, it should prove helpful in getting you started. It’s intended for designers and developers looking to add SVG to their workflow in the most accessible way possible. (Pocket Guide to Writing SVG by Joni Trythall, Introduction)

Learn JavaScript

Eloquent JavaScript By Marijn Haverbeke

Besides explaining JavaScript, I also will introduce the basic principles of programming…

If you are new to programming, there will be a lot of new material to digest. (Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke, Introduction)

Speaking JavaScript By Dr. Axel Rauschmayer (HTML, PDF & ePub)

Who this book is for

This book has been written for programmers, by a programmer. So, in order to understand it, you should already know object-oriented programming, for example, via a mainstream programming language such as Java, PHP, C++, Python, Ruby, Objective-C, C#, or Perl…

How this book is organized

This book is divided into four parts, but the main two are:

JavaScript Quick Start

JavaScript in Depth

These parts are completely independent! You can treat them as if they were separate books: the former is more like a guide, the latter is more like a reference. (Speaking JavaScript by Dr. Axel Rauschmayer, Preface)

Learning JavaScript Design Patterns By Addy Osmani

Written by Addy Osmani, Learning JavaScript Design Patterns will show you how to write beautiful, structured, and maintainable JavaScript by applying classical and modern design patterns to the language. This book is targeted at professional developers wishing to improve their knowledge of design patterns and how they can be applied to the JavaScript programming.

Programming JavaScript Applications By Eric Elliott

This book is for developers familiar with JavaScript; at least a year or two working frequently with the language, but who want to learn more about how you can apply it specifically to developing robust web-scale or enterprise applications.

The following topics are covered:

  • JavaScript features and best practices for application developers
  • Code organization, modularity, and reuse
  • Separation of concerns on the client side (MVC, etc.)
  • Communicating with servers and APIs
  • Designing and programming RESTful APIs with Node.js
  • Building, testing, collaboration, deployment, and scaling
  • Expanding reach via internationalization

You Don’t Know JS (book series)

You Don’t Know JS is a series of books diving deep into the core mechanisms of the JavaScript language. The first edition of the series is now complete.

Human JavaScript by Henrik Joreteg

Henrik Joreteg

This is a book about a specific set of tools, patterns, and approaches that we feel are optimized for people. These approaches enable our team to quickly build and deliver high-quality JavaScript applications for humans. (Human JavaScript by Henrik Joreteg, Introduction)

JavaScript Enlightenment By Cody Lindley

It was my intention to write a book to give the reader an accurate JavaScript worldview through an examination of native JavaScript objects and supporting nuances: complex values, primitive values, scope, inheritance, the head object, etc. I intend this book to be a short and digestible summary of the ECMA-262, Edition 3 specification, focused on the nature of objects in JavaScript.
(JavaScript Enlightenment By Cody Lindley, Introduction)

Building Front-End Web Apps with Plain JavaScript by Gerd Wagner

This book is aimed at JavaScript developers and experienced programmers who would like to learn JavaScript hands-on, in the context of creating a fully-functional web application.

Learn PHP

PHP: The Right Way By Josh Lockhart

This website aims to introduce new PHP developers to some topics which they may not discover until it is too late, and aims to give seasoned pros some fresh ideas on those topics they’ve been doing for years without ever reconsidering. This website will also not tell you which tools to use, but instead offer suggestions for multiple options, when possible explaining the differences in approach and use-case. (PHP: The Right Way By Josh Lockhart)

Learn WordPress

Locking Down WordPress By Rachel Baker, Brad Williams & John Ford

In Locking Down WordPress, WordPress pros Rachel Baker, Brad Williams, and John Ford take you through everything you need to know to make sure you have WordPress security is under control.

WordPress Meet Responsive Design By Chris Coyier, Ian Stewart & Sara Cannon

In WordPress Meet Responsive Design, Chris Coyier, Ian Stewart and Sara Cannon give you the lowdown on their real world uses and strategies for designing WordPress responsively.

Learn Git

Pro Git 2nd Edition By Scott Chacon and Ben Straub (HTML, PDF, ePub & Mobi)

The Pro Git eBook, know in its second edition, covers basics of Git as well as advanced topics such as branching and running distributed Git.

Git From The Bottom Up by John Wiegley

As the name suggests, Git From the Bottom Up teaches you Git from basic to advanced levels. It is available as a PDF file, so you can easily download it and use it as per your convenience.

UX — User Experience Learning

The UX Reader By MailChimp (ePub, PDF & Mobi)

Our perspective on user experience design is reflected in the
organization of the book. We start with an examination of
collaboration and teamwork. The troika of UX follows: research,
design, and development. We conclude with a selection of
articles on refinement and other processes that never really
end. (The UX Reader By MailChimp, Introduction)

The Guide to Usability Testing (PDF)

The free e-book includes:

  • Best practices from companies like Apple, MailChimp, Yahoo, DirecTV, Buffer, and more.
  • Practical explanations and tips for 20 usability testing methods including hallway testing, card sorting, moderated & unmoderated testing, and much more.
  • Advice from usability experts like Jakob Nielsen, Jeff Sauro, Dr. David Travis, and others.
  • Define your hypothesis, pick several quantitative and qualitative methods, and get ready to go out of your comfort zone. Check out the e-book, and feel free to share if you find it helpful.

Web UI Best Practices (PDF)

The 109-page guide includes:

  • Advice from experts such as Luke Wroblewski, Jared Spool, Jakob Nielsen, Marcin Treder, and many others.
  • In-depth discussion and practical tips for UI elements such as color, contrast, spacing, navigation, typography, input controls, and more.
  • Explanation of preliminary steps such as creating user personas, prioritizing requirements, and creating visual hierarchies.

The Guide to UX Design Process & Documentation (PDF)

The 132-page guide answers questions such as:

  • How do I build documentation into the design?
  • What design processes are suitable for startups and enterprises?
  • How can I draw insights from previous iterations to plan for future designs?
  • When do I know a design is good enough for launch?

The Guide to Mockups (PDF)

This free e-book features:

  • Best practices for creating mockups in SketchApp & Photoshop.
  • Practical advice from Marcin Treder, Luke Wroblewski, Ash Maurya, and other product design experts.
  • Explanations of mockup fidelities, anatomies, and methods of creation.
  • Analysis of different design processes for creating mockups based on our own experience and those of Fortune 500 companies.

The Guide to Wireframing (PDF)

With over 100 pages, this book covers what makes a great wireframing workshop. It’s wireframing from the big idea to details: digital and analog tools, web and mobile design patterns sources, all concluded with design principles for people who build products.

If you know any other free ebooks, please suggest and I’ll add them to the list.

Have a nice day!

Bradley Nice,
Content Manager at — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors



Bradley Nice
Level Up!

Content Manager at 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook