Ryerson Library publishes new Web Design Primer open-source textbook

Web Design Primer is a new open-source eBook published by Toronto’s Ryerson University Library by authors Richard Adams, Associate Professor at the School of Graphic Communications Management, and Ahmed Sagarwala, Manager of Industry Relations at the Digital Media Zone (DMZ). The book explains the basics of the HTML and CSS codes used to create web pages, as well as related technologies – including JavaScript, jQuery, audio, video, and animation. The book was designed to accompany a one-semester course on web design. Users can read the book online or download it in ePub and PDF versions from https://pressbooks.library.ryerson.ca/webdesign/. Printed versions can also be ordered from the site. The eBook has been published under a Creative Commons “Share and Share Alike with Attribution” copyright license (CC BY, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). This enables other instructors to download, edit and use the book for their classes royalty-free – the only requirement being to credit the original authors. The eBook was written on the Library’s Pressbooks publishing platform. It can be output in several formats, including online, .epub (tablets), .mobi (Amazon Kindle), .pdf, and print.

Richard Adams, Associate Professor at Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management, with Sally Wilson, Web Services Librarian at the Ryerson University Library. (Photo courtesy of Marissa Frosst).

The Library also pointed out that students like opensource eBooks for several reasons.  The books are free, they cover material only relevant to the class, they’re easy to access online without going to a bookstore or library, and they can be read on lab computers or on a tablet or laptop. Co-author Rich Adams added: “Students consider web design to be a fun but challenging topic, so we wanted to provide the most vital information in a succinct and easy-to-access format. Our previous textbook was about 2 in. (3 cm) thick, about 2 lbs. and cost around $100 used. Compare this to the weight of a student’s laptop or tablet that they’re already carrying to class, or to a lab computer that’s already in the lab, and you can see what this means for accessibility.”


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.