5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great content, marred by sloppy production.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art and Science of Web Design (Paperback)Jeffrey Veen's new book "The Art and Science of Web Design" is part of a growing new genre of books that address the principles of designing for the web without delving into the technical details of how it's done. This is a welcome thing as, quite apart from the plethora of technical books already available, there is also an abundance of technical material available on the web itself.
Veen's book is eminently readable and he clearly knows his stuff. In eight chapters he covers a great deal of ground, from the origins of presentational markup languages in the early twentieth century letterpress printing industry, where editors would use universally understood codes to communicate type face and layout information to typesetters, to the workings of today's database-driven dynamic publishing systems that are the backbone of much of the content on the web today.
A good chapter address information architecture, with an excellent discussion of how to present "horizontal" connections in a "vertical" hierarchy - something that the brain does quite naturally in the process of learning and recalling knowledge in human memory, but is difficult to communicate effectively on the web. The use of tags as metadata, or information about information, to add meaning and structure to data on the web moves the discussion into the realm of XML.
The two chapters on "Behavior" and "Browsers" address one of web design's biggest headaches, namely how to cope with the vast assortment of devices that people use to read web pages. Veen discusses how, instead of trying to make pages render visually the same in every type of browser and at every screen resolution, we should make pages that are "liquid" and reformat according to the browser device being used and degrade gracefully in earlier versions of browsers and text only devices. As a means of achieving this there is a discussion of serving web pages conditionally depending on the device being used to access them - a technique referred to somewhat inelegantly as "browser sniffing". I was disappointed that the discussion made no mention of accessibility for visually impaired readers using devices such as speech synthesisers and Braille readers to access web content - an issue that will surely receive greater attention as the web continues its inexorable penetration into all of our lives.
The book is presented very well - it is stylish, visually appealing and printed in full colour on high quality paper stock. What a great shame, then, that the book is let down by rather too many grammatical errors, typos and textual inconsistencies - even to the point of there being multiple spellings of Veen's first name (Jeffrey / Jeffery) on the cover of the book!... Also, my copy had quite a few pages that were blurred due to registration errors in the printing process...
Another disappointment is the absence of a bibliography; Veen has clearly done a lot of research for the writing of this book and makes many good references in the text, so why not go the distance and give a proper set of references? Whilst I can understand the pressure to cut down on the lead time for the publication of a book that documents such as fast moving subject as the web, where the majority of books lose their value in a few years due to technology moving on, this kind of sloppy production is not welcome.
Overall then, a good book - great content marred by sloppy production. Four out of five.