Hardboiled Web Design Fifth Anniversary Edition

I have some very special news to announce about my book. It’s a brand new Fifth Anniversary Edition of Hardboiled ’Web Design that’s published by Smashing Magazine.

Today, on the 20th October 2010, Mark and Emma Boulton’s Five Simple Steps and I published Hardboiled Web Design. Part web design manifesto, part progressive CSS manual, Hardboiled Web Design was a huge success for all of us, but it was also a major undertaking. Five Simple Steps had never published, nor sold a book like Hardboiled Web Design in the numbers that we shipped. I hadn’t written one like it before. It was a ten month intensive project and at the end my wife said that she would hunt down and kill anyone who asked me to write another book.

Skip forward exactly five years, to the 20th October 2015, we’re all still alive and I’m proud to announce the brand new, Fifth Anniversary Edition of Hardboiled Web Design, published by Smashing Magazine

Hardboiled Web Design Fifth Anniversary Edition
Hardboiled Web Design Fifth Anniversary Edition. Cover illustration by Natalie Smith

Hardboiled web design is about never compromising on creating the best work we can for the web. Hardboiled is about challenging assumptions. Hardboiled is never being afraid to push boundaries, break rules or invent new ones. Hardboiled is stripping our markup to the bone to make it more adaptable to whatever the web might throw at it. Hardboiled is not hesitating to make the most of new technologies.

Published by Smashing Magazine

Finding a publisher who shares your vision for a book isn’t always easy, but this time we knew exactly who we wanted to publish the Hardboiled Web Design Fifth Anniversary Edition. It had to be Smashing Magazine. The Smashing Magazine team have been producing many of the best books in the web industry. Their attention to detail and the quality of their book product is second to none at the moment. First in Europe and now in America their conferences are also setting the highest standards, so I’m proud to publish my new book with them. I also got to work with my friend and the best editor in the business, Owen Gregory. I honestly couldn’t have written this book without him.

Why a new edition?

Although we published Hardboiled Web Design only five years ago, so much about the web that we design for has changed. The legacy browsers that some believed held back our creativity have faded into obscurity. We no longer need to write hacks for browsers that don’t support properties such as border-radius. Contemporary web browsers are close to parity on the properties they support. We make prototypes using HTML and CSS earlier in our design process and we iterate by writing code, not by making visuals.

Yet despite the differences that five years have made, many of our attitudes to design and development have stayed the same. We might not be bothered by border-radius support any more but we’re equally as frustrated by flexbox.

The way we design has changed as we’ve moved from designing static visuals of complete web pages to systems of components. We make prototypes using HTML and CSS earlier in our design process and we iterate by writing code, not by making more visuals. Our clients have become used to—in fact, many have come to expect—that we’ll demonstrate our responsive design concepts to them on their own smartphones or tablets.

The Hardboiled Web Design Fifth Anniversary Edition covers all these changes and more. It’s not just a second edition, it’s a thorough rewrite that explains the why and how to approach designing for today’s responsive web.

What’s in this Fifth Anniversary Edition?

If you bought the first Hardboiled Web Design, thank you. I think that this Fifth Anniversary Edition provides a solid update, with five brand new chapters covering today’s responsive design process, making pattern libraries and website design style guides. There are new chapters on using media and feature queries, flexbox and background blends. No chapter has remained untouched, and every example has been redesigned and brought right up to date.

If you’re new to Hardboiled, I hope that you’ll enjoy this no nonsense, hard-hitting approach to the way that we design for the web. I hope that you’ll like the hardboiled way to use technologies such as HTML, microformats2, CSS and a whole host of others. This isn’t like any book you’ve ever read about website design or development.

Part 1: Getting Hardboiled

In ‘Getting Hardboiled’ you’ll discover what it means to be hardboiled—for you, your designs and the process you use to make them. In two completely new chapters you’ll learn about designing atoms and elements, and how web design style guides will help your designs. Finally, you’ll find out about designing atmosphere as part of a responsive web design process.

Part 2: Hardboiled HTML

Updated for this fifth anniversary edition, in ‘Hardboiled HTML’ you’ll learn how to use HTML’s semantic elements alongside the BEM naming system. You’ll discover the updated microformats2—simple markup patterns for making data machine-readable—and investigate WAI-ARIA roles. All of these will make your markup faster, more responsive and, of course, hardboiled.

Part 3: Hardboiled CSS

With two brand new chapters, in ‘Hardboiled CSS’ you’ll dive deep into CSS media queries, learning how to style small screens first and how to choose breakpoints based on content rather than devices. You’ll investigate new CSS feature queries, learn about flexible box layouts, and understand web fonts for responsive typography. You’ll find out how to make borders that are full of images, and you’ll wind up knowing how to replace many images with CSS gradients.

Part 4: More Hardboiled CSS

In ‘More Hardboiled CSS’ you’ll discover how to use new background blends and CSS filters. You’ll find out how to transform elements in two and three dimensions using CSS, and how to make state changes smoother with a host of CSS transitions. Finally, you’ll round off this book by learning about multicolumn layout and how to use it for today’s responsive designs.

Pre-orders start today

Hardboiled Web Design Fifth Anniversary Edition will be available in DRM-free ePUB, PDF, and Kindle formats on November 10th and the new paperback printed book will ship early December in time for Christmas delivery.

Pre-orders start today.

Go get hardboiled.


I’m available for hire to consult on and design products and websites. Based in North Wales, I travel regularly to work with clients world-wide.

Available from January 2020

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Stuff & Nonsense Ltd.
Eversleigh, Lon Capel,
Flintshire, North Wales,
LL18 6EJ, UK