If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best. Just like every champion athlete has a coach, designers and business-owners need some guidance to go from good to great. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best web design books for eCommerce. These 61 books range the spectrums from design to sales to personal growth to real-life case studies. You can find the ones that will help you by browsing our nine categories:
- Interface and UX Design
- Social Marketing
- Business Strategy
- User Behavior
- Personal Management
- Practical Exercises and Technical Guides
- Case Studies
Best Web Design Books on Interface and UX Design
Hunt’s Convert! is a favorite among readers for its direct approach and effective advice — just read the comments section on the Amazon page. This book approaches web design from the perspective of business owners whose main goal is getting results, instead of straying off track with purely design details.
A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web comes from Mark Boulton, well-known British designer and speaker. This straightforward overview to web design divides the discipline into 5 comprehensive steps with their own sections: Getting Started, Research, Typography, Color, and Layouts.
Designing for Emotion centers around the design fundamental of connecting with users on an emotional level. This entry of the A Book Apart series comes offers the wisdom of the former UX design lead at MailChimp (known for their charm and appeal), and combines design experience with psychology.
Everett N. McKay
Your site’s user interface is more than just a control panel: it’s the mouthpiece you use to communicate with your user, thousands of miles away. UI is Communication explains the fundamental concepts of UI design and why they’re vital to the site’s success, plus includes exercises to help send the points home.
Simplicity is one of the most underrated principles of effective web design, so it’s nice Maeda wrote a guidebook on applying it. The Laws of Simplicity gives the hard-and-fast rules on how to give more by offering less — a perfect ideology for interface design.
Paula Borowska and Tomas Laurinavicius
An actionable book on mobile design, Mobile Design Book is written specifically for designers on the most effective mobile design principles for apps and mobile sites. This mobile design manual dives into both general best practices such as designing for smaller screen, plus technical concerns like designing for different operating systems.
William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler
The revised and updated version of the 2003 classic, the Universal Principles of Design presents 125 best practices for web design. The authors’ advice ranges across all design from web design to architecture, incorporating the rules that that govern them all, such as the 80-20 rule, Occam’s razor, chunking, and storytelling.
Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld
The O’Reilly book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is your all-inclusive reference guide for IA structure. The first half of the book outlines the theory of broad application of IA, while the second half demonstrates the points through real examples. A must-have for DIY designers undertaking robust sites.
As the premise of the book, users simply have a knack for missing the point and misusing designs. But since this harms you more than them, it’s on your shoulders to prevent their misunderstandings. Bulletproof Web Designs goes into the common design faults, and the solutions for making them bulletproof.
Lara Callender Hogan
A constant concern for web designers is finding that perfect balance between aesthetics and performance, visuals and usability. Hogan’s Designing for Performance tackles that debate head on, covering issues like optimizing load time with stunning images, how browsers render content, breakpoints on mobile devices, and the best heuristic tools.
Part of the A Book Apart series, Responsible Responsive Design shines a light on everything designers need to know about responsive design, and mobile design in general. Jehl pinpoints the design differences between desktop and mobile devices, and how to satisfy them for the optimal, multi-device user experience.
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
UX specialist Robert Hoekman, Jr., shares some of his design wisdom in Designing the Moment. Using a casual, conversational tone, this book explains how to streamline the UX and remove user obstacles by thinking like the user, explaining his points with anecdotes from his own career.
Jake Nielsen and Hoa Loranger
Some consider 2006’s Prioritizing Web Usability nothing more than an update to Nielsen’s seminal 1999 book Designing Web Usability, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant — even in 2016. Nielsen is one of the most respected names in interface and UX design as a founding member of the Nielsen Norman Group, so a book of his lessons will not go unappreciated.
How to Cheat in Photoshop CC is one of the best guidebooks on advanced Photoshop techniques available, capable of turning anyone into a master photo-manipulator. Digital artist Steve Caplin shares the secrets he used to create his impressive background, including commissions for The Guardian, Men’s Health, and L’Internazionale, plus agency work at Saatchi & Saatchi.
Another Photoshop guidebook from digital artist Steve Caplin, 100% Photoshop explains how to create images exclusively in Photoshop, without any starting source material. The benefits for designers are enormous: completely original buttons, icons, logos, illustrations — anything your imagination can dream up.
A complete handbook for social media marketing, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is full of techniques and tactics for from one of the leading experts in the field. You’ll find the best ways to tailor-make content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. The title refers to the small and easy posts (“jabs”) combined with the epic, conversion-generating posts (“right hook”).
Barbara Cave Henricks and Rusty Shelton
The role of micromedia in marketing is undoubtedly bigger today than ever before, which makes Mastering the New Media Landscape a useful read for anyone looking to grow their brand. This book discusses how modern marketing revolves on effectively handling the three major types of media: owned, earned, and rented.
Janice (Ginny) Redish
Written by acclaimed information designer and linguist Janice Redish, Letting Go of the Words is a complete how-to guide on all written content for the web, covering content creation, content strategy, social media, and even SEO.
Perhaps the best resource for service marketing, Selling the Invisible explains how to translate the rules of product marketing into intangible services. Beckwith’s book can help designers in two ways; designing eCommerce sites for service, and in marketing their own “invisible” design services.
The Referral Engine is a marketing guidebook fine-tuned to referrals and word-of-mouth advertising. With millennials less trusting of traditional advertising, more and more businesses are relying on friendly referrals as the powerful new mechanism for attracting new customers — and Jantsch’s guide teaches you all you need to know.
Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization
Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon
A worthwhile read for any business-owner, online or off, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit offers insights into creating the best possible customer service. For the eCommerce business-owner, customer service means customer loyalty, and customer loyalty both repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising on social media.
Ted Rubin and Kathryn Rose
Return on Relationship offers insightful and useful ideas on how to increase your business through better customer relationships. Almost essential for social media managers, any online vendor can use this book’s suggestions to improve their sales, conversations, and reputation from their customer outreach.
Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach
Traditional marketing has been turned on its head, and today a successful business requires a solid content strategy. Direct and immediately applicable, the lessons in Content Strategy for the Web cover everything you need to know about modern marketing, covering the process from production, publication, and all the way to maintenance.
Designing Brand Identity presents a five-step process for building a brand identity that any company and industry can learn from. The updated fourth edition contains 35% more new material, including 30 updated case studies.
Denise Lee Yohn
Having worked for Sony, Burger King, Frito-Lay, Nautica, and Land Rover, Denise Lee Yohn certainly has a claim to knowing what big brands do. Her book What Great Brands Do lists the seven key principles and strategies that the world’s successful brands all have in common, citing actual case studies from internationally known names.
Storytelling, or the “business narrative,” has changed the course of conventional marketing and branding, and even giants like Nike, Walmart, and Procter & Gamble have jumped on board. Lead with a Story goes over the specifics of creating your own business narrative, with examples from real household brand names.
No Logo blurs the line between an analysis of marketing trends and a political manifesto. At times controversial, the tenth-anniversary edition of this international best-seller explores what branding has become in modern times: an omnipresent and even dangerous force.
Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander
Informative and fun-to-read, Velocity lists seven laws of business for the digital age that any ecommerce store can apply. The beauty of this book is its fun and unique tone: it’s written as a conversation between the two authors, sharing their wisdom in clever memorable epitaphs like “A Smith & Wesson Beats Four Aces.”
Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup was no-less-than revolutionary when it was first published in 2011, and its resource-saving tactics are just as useful today. This book outlines a business model that emphasizes efficiency, creativity, speed, and customer satisfaction through rapid development cycles and incremental testing. A must-read for new startups and entrepreneurs.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Written by the minds behind the popular usability blog 37signals (now Basecamp), Rework shares the business management strategies that helped make the authors a success. The book focuses mainly on productivity boosts, and how to avoid myths about needing outside investors or even a detailed plan.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Another release by 37signals (now Basecamp), Getting Real centers around the process of web app development across all stages — design, programming, marketing, and company management. The authors share how they developed their five successful web apps (Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack, Writeboard, and Ta-da List), as well as the open-source web app framework Ruby on Rails.
Where Good Ideas Come From is the 344-page answer to the topic introduced in the title, drawing on the history of invention and outlining the seven key patterns that mark great innovation. Citing examples that range from Darwin to Google, this book points out some of the raw ingredients for good ideas, including the environments that nurture them.
Gladwell’s 2002 smashing success certainly practiced what it preached: an examination of the factors that cause an idea to reach the “tipping point,” where its inertia pushes it into prosperity. If your ecommerce idea is built around something new and useful, this book could shed some light on how to properly market it.
Once called “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry” by Time magazine, David Ogilvy shares his lifetime of advertising wisdom in Ogilvy on Advertising. This is a primer on everything you need to know about advertising, often cited as the industry’s bible by professional advertisers.
From the co-founder of the award-winning agency Gold Greenless Trott, Predatory Thinking explains the philosophy of getting ahead of the competition — like The Art of War for modern business. Trott references classic philosophers, modern celebrities, and his own lifetime of experience for a practical guide to thinking like a winner.
As You Should Test That! puts forth, the best way to increase conversions is through testing and improving designs until they’re optimized for your target user. The man behind the LIFT Model and Kaizen Method shares his step-by-step guide to prioritizing and setting up tests and implementing what you learn.
What may be the most influential web design in history, Don’t Make Me Think takes the what we know about standard human behavior and applies it to web design. With his casual, common-sense approach, it’s easy to understand his profound insights on optimizing the user experience for any kind of site.
While the original was released in 2000, the third-edition Revisited version includes updated examples and an entirely new chapter on mobile usability. If you haven’t read it, join the other 400,000 designers who have made it their design bible.
Susan Weinschenk, PhD
A favorite of designers, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People lists out the most relevant details and findings on human behavior, relevant to web designers. The scope covers everything from holding user attention to predicting user errors. The book is written by behavioral-scientist-turned-design-writer Susan Weinschenk.
One of the best books on the sales industry in general, Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy offers the in-depth scientific research on consumer purchasing behavior. Citing studies in psychology, economics, and neurology, this book shows businesses how to apply the latest findings of human behavior.
A psychology book for product designers, Hooked explains in layman’s terms the process by which humans develop our deep-seated habits, and how to apply those your products, website, or service. Eyal’s lessons can be applied across the board for eCommerce: from the products themselves to the design experience of the website.
A seminal design book alongside Don’t Make Me Think, Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things explains what makes certain products attractive, stemming from research into the human man. As the author explains, a product’s attraction is far from superficial, but actually improves usability and the experience as a whole.
Dr. Robert B. Cialdini
With advice any salesperson can use, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion shows how to influence decision-making through strategies like social proof, scarcity, reciprocity, and coming across as an authority. The advice comes directly from Dr. Robert Cialdini, the so-called “Godfather of Influence” and consultant for Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and more.
Susan Weinschenk, PhD
By the same writer as 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, Neuro Web Design delves into the often misunderstand but greatly effective field of “neuro marketing.” Despite its scientific nature, the book is surprisingly easy to read and easy to grasp. Its pages hold the secret to your customers’ motivations, emotional states, inner-monologues, habit triggers, and unconscious buying desires.
Concentrating on the best practices for typography and text appearance in all mediums, not just web design, The Elements of Typographic Style comes straight from typography master Robert Bringhurst. This is a master guidebook for all your typeface questions, with beautifully rendered examples and glimpses into the history and theory of typography.
The Logo, Font & Lettering Bible goes above and beyond what its title promises. It’s more than just a reliable reference guide for typography visuals — it’s also a simple and comprehensive instruction guide on how to create your own custom fonts and logos, and gives good reasons for why you should.
If you’re looking for a single, cover-all guide to typography, Thinking with Type is a good choice. This expansive guide divides the scope of typography into three sections: Letter (typeface), Text (paragraphs and spacing), and Grid (layout on the page). Throughout the book, Lupton goes into the history and theory of typography, and provides periodic training exercises.
A must-read for typography enthusiasts, Just My Type is a celebration of fonts, going into both their history and the subtle effects of their design. For meticulous designers, this book allows you to choose the best possible typefaces for whatever your project needs.
Proclaiming itself as “a manifesto for creativity in the digital age,” Steal Like an Artist helps to unlock the artistic nature already inside you. While not exclusive to design, this book blends practical advice and creative theories to make you a better creative. The inspiration came from a graduation speech Kleon gave about the ten things he wished people told him when he graduated.
When the author is Paul Jarvis, a book titled Everything I Know becomes a must-have. This famous freelance web designer shares his wisdom, advice, and real-life anecdotes in this book that’s part diary, part guidebook. Among the themes included are how to turn your fear into a strength and develop your identity not just as a designer, but as a person.
Jocelyn K. Glei
Collecting the advice of 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day is full of tips and tricks for even the most chaotic designers to stay organized, no matter the project or obstacles. Think of this book as a catalogue of life hacks to improve productivity.
Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Miln
Winning Without Losing combats the idea that you must sacrifice your life and happiness for a successful business. A book shares strategies time management and meeting goals, both personal and business, for how to optimize the results of life in and out of work.
The international bestseller and marketing guru Godin explains the importance of the linchpin and how to become one yourself. In the office, a linchpin is a free-thinker that goes above and beyond their duty to accomplish the work no one else can. This book teaches its reader how to stop holding back and reach their full potential.
Practical Exercises and Technical Guides
Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz
Sprint discloses how to conduct a helpful 5-day design sprint, written by Jake Knapp, the man who created the process for Google Ventures. A design sprint is an exercise that condenses the entire design process into 5 days, perfect for lean and agile methodologies and rapid prototyping. When done right, design sprints leave you with a wealth of valuable product and user data after just five days.
Like a homework book for designers, Creative Workshop brings together 80 design exercises to help you explore new techniques and modes of thinking, as well as practice your old reliables. Also effective for managers and agency heads to test their teams.
Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicolai Marquardt, and Bill Buxton
Sketching User Experiences is a how-to instructional on UX sketching, with step-by-step guides and guided exercises. Aimed for UX designers, this workbook explains a variety of sketching techniques — such as storyboarding and working from photos — in a spectrum of skill levels that both beginners and experts can appreciate.
Making and Breaking the Grid posits that, in order for designers to make innovative, groundbreaking designs, they must first learn the confines from which they wish to break. Samara’s guidebook explains both the theory of application of gridded layouts, complete with visual examples.
Richard L. Brandt
One Click reveals the true story of Jeff Bezos and how he built Amazon into the king of online stores. This book reveals the secrets to Amazon’s success, from the details of its business model to Bezos’s managerial style. True, it doesn’t tell the whole story, but it shares enough to satiate most hungry eCommerce enthusiasts.
Part exposition and part analysis, In the Plex tells the story of Google with more details than any other account. Veteran tech writer Steven Levy gained exclusive access to the Internet superpower, going into the characters of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and how their organizational style contributed to Google’s success, as well as the company’s struggle to expand into Chinese markets.
Alibaba, one of the world’s most successful online vendors, grew out from the modest beginnings of a one-man startup. The Alibaba Way, written by the Professor of Economics at Tsinghua University, shares the behind-the-scenes story of this online marvel, with lessons any ecommerce up-and-comer can learn from.
Think of Big Brand Theory as a highlight reel of some of the best branding campaigns by some of the biggest players. This book examines and dissects the branding decisions by big names like Nike, Starbucks, Adidas, Sony, Lacoste, Levi’s, H&M, Isse Miyake, and over 100 more.
What’s your favorite design or eCommerce book? Help us make a complete list of the best web design books out there by adding your suggestions in the comments now.