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Book Review of:
Web Design Books:
A Quartet of choices

 

Susan Ives has been designing Web site forever, or so it seems.

From the April, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Laura LeMay's
Electronic Web Workshop
Web Design in a Nutshell:
A Desktop Quick Reference
Becoming a Web Designer: 
Skilled in the Fine Art of Llama Herding
How to Prepare Images and Media for the Web

Many people ask me to recommend a book for beginning Web designers. I dither. Web design is such a fluid field that by the time a book makes it through the tedious publishing process it is already out of date. Besides, most Web design books are outrageously expensive - $30, $40, $50 even as much as $60!

Here's my best tip: hightail it over to Half-Price Books (there are four locations in San Antonio) and see what they have on their shelves. Their used and discounted books are an incredible bargain. In fact, I purchased the first book I'm going to recommend there.



Laura LeMay's 
Electronic Web Workshop
Sam's Net, $59.99, 1996

It's a little old in Web terms, but if you learn HTML 3.2, which is what this book covers, you'll learn the basic, which will never go out of date. This package includes a paperback copy of Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 3.2 in a Week, a monstrous 582 pages of information. This alone is an outstanding reference that does just what it says. The bundle also contains two bonus CDs that include more than 4,000 pages from eight other Laura LeMay books, Web design software and the source code form all of the books. If you're on a budget, or not sure what you need, this is the best deal in town. It's still in print at full price and I found it used at Amazon for as little as $8. I paid $9.98 for this at Half Price Books . There weren't any left the last time I looked, but they had some bargains, such as HTML 4.0 for Dummies for a mere five bucks and Sams Teach Yourself HTML 4 in 10 minutes for $4.98.



Web Design in a Nutshell: 
A Desktop Quick Reference
By Jennifer Niederst, O'Reilly, 2001, $29.95

After you master the basics from Laura's book, this is the next logical step. Not the best choice for beginners (it plunges right into the hard stuff) it is a notable reference for more experienced designers. I find myself turning to it when things go wrong and it has always told me how to fix my most egregious errors. It is especially helpful in solving cross-browser compatibility problems. Like all O'Reilly books, it is well organized and matter-of-fact, and the price is reasonable. Alamo PC members can get 20% off any book they order directly from O'Reilly either from their catalogue or online . Use the discount code listed in the PC Alamode.



Becoming a Web Designer: 
Skilled in the Fine Art of Llama Herding
By Aaron Wester, Writer's Club Press, 2002, $14.95

If you know diddly-squat about Web design and are thinking about creating your own site or hiring someone to do it for you, Aaron's irreverent little book is as good an introduction as I've found. In fact, he covers most of the things I talk about in my "Jumpstart Your Home Page" class and he's funnier than I am. He assumes you know nothing and gives you a whirlwind tour of everything you need to know to start as a Web designer. It would make an excellent gift for a student interested in the field or as a quickie introduction for the time-pressed business owner making initial decisions about starting a Web presence. I promised Aaron when he mailed me this book that I would be honest but not brutal, so I hope I'm not being too rude in saying that his writing needs polishing. He gets the facts right, though, and what he lacks in sophistication he makes up for in humor. If you can't get this locally, order it from www.iuniverse.com, where it can be bought as a paperback or as an e-book at the bargain price of $6.



designing web graphics 
How to Prepare Images and Media for the Web
by Lynda Weinman, New Riders, 1996, $50.00

Lynda is the doyen of Web graphics designers and any book with her name on the cover is worth having. Before you gag at the price, I recall buying this book at a Computer Blast Show for $5 or so. Version 3 is now out and covers some of the newer technologies and software programs but a discounted older book will take you far. I look at a lot of Web sites and have observed that many designers, both professional and hobbyists, don't have a clue about how to handle graphics. She covers color management, selection of the appropriate file format, sizing graphics, creating background images - just about anything you need to know. Every Web designer, in my opinion, should have at least one Weinman on his or her bookshelf.


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