Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, But Misses The Point, 12 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Small Business Web Sites Made Easy (Made Easy Series) (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that this isn't a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. The writing is generally good, but gets a little dry in places. Having said that, there are far, far drier texts out there, and anyone reading a 'conventional' computer book will know exactly what I mean. The coverage of the subject matter is pitched at the right sort of level - a non-specialist who wants to put together a web-site for their business - and it does keep useless jargon down to a minimum.

However, the over-riding problem with this book is that it takes a professional approach - hard-coding in HTML and PHP - to what is essentially a market for non-programmers. It doesn't really cover the use of web-creation tools in anything other than a comparatively passing reference, and non-programmers who want a web-site put together will vastly prefer this approach to having to code everything I am sure. Considering the number of website-in-a-box style packages available, many of which integrate things like credit-card payments automatically - who would want to hand-code everything?

In addition, there is little on web-site design in terms of how things look to the end user through their web-browser. This is one of my major annoyances with commercial sites, and a badly-written and badly-designed site will turn me off from using that company. I don't want to have to wade through pages of irrelevant information just to find something, and the site's services or catalogue should be easy to access. And I know I am not alone in this opinion.

So why is there no information on design? Tell us how to effectively order a site to allow easy navigation, how to make it visually attractive to get customers, and how to present a catalogue online to get maximum coverage. All this is sadly missing, and detracts - for me anyway - from the potential value of this book. I would rather they cut out chunks of chapters relating how to code in HTML (and who really does that in any depth these days anyway, unless they're paid to do it?), and instead put in a good chapter on what makes a good site, and what makes a bad one. Later chapters in Creating a Web Site: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals) are useful for this, as are chunks of Web Design All-in-one For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers)) (although be warned that much of the Dummies book is fairly terrible - pick and choose what you need from it).

To summarise then, this isn't the greatest book you will see on web-creation for small businesses, but it does have the one advantage of containing much of the information in one place. Without this book, you'll have to search the net and a load of other books to glean what you need. You will need someting else to accompany it however which will help you with the grander idea of what your site should look like (and how to get it there).
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