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on 29 July 1999
Just like the title says, if you have little or no design experience/training, this is a great book to have. But even if you have been designing web sites for a while like me (3 years), there are plenty of things you might find useful.
The book is full-color. Much of it assumes you know little about computers, HTML, and the Internet. It also assumes you are using one of the popular HTML editors and graphics programs like Frontpage and Photoshop. Even with these liabilities, there are wonderful principles, tips and techniques provided by the authors that should benefit even experienced designers.
For me, the meat of the book was the middle where it describes the basics of design, color, layout, and typography. The advanced tips and tricks chapter also offered some tidbits I hadn't thought of before. However, I breezed through the beginning and ending chapters (on the Internet, web pages, site organization, uploading your site, and testing it) because they had little to offer I didn't already know. But for a beginner this may be valuable information.
One reason I wanted this book was all of its beautiful and creative design examples. If I am stumped on how to design something, I will pick up this book and see if it may inspire me. The authors didn't provide "cutting edge" type graphics, but examples that are simple, colorful and effective.
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on 27 September 2003
Read the title - "The Non-designer's Web Book". This is who it is for. I am a web designer and I read this book a couple of years ago. Yes it can be a little patronising and yes it can be a little too basic at times but it outlines the basics of design (not specifically web design) that sadly alot of designers don't seem to be interested in these days.
I came onto Amazon to buy this book for one of my new designers. I am buying it for him because although I can train him to use Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop, it is almost impossible to teach someone what actually LOOKS good.
There are basic rules in this book that must be adhered to when creating a website and if my designer only learns 1 or 2 things from this book, then I am happy - it will have served it's purpose.
Please do not overlook this book as a real "beginners" book, I think every single web designer could do with a reminder of the basics every now and again. If you don't beleive me, just look at some of the appalling sites on the internet at the moment - and yes there are quite a few cr@p ones out there!
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on 17 November 2009
Robin Williams' design and type books inspired me to change my life and I can't recommend them too highly. Likewise, her new book on presentations, though inevitably recycling some of the same material, adds the new dimensions of time and theatre as well. So I was looking forward to reading the Non Designer's Web Book with a view to passing it on to people who know a lot less about web design than I already do. But no, sadly I can't recommend this one of the otherwise excellent family of books.

I think there are two problems:
- the main problem is that it feels terribly dated. The internet is fast moving, and it has left a lot of the material in the book behind. People don't want basic web sites like this any more: there are read-made blogs, content management systems and online site builders for the simple stuff, which is about as far as this book goes; interactivity, AJAX, server applications, in short "Web 2.0", is beyond its scope. Two paragraphs about cross-browser design issues simply isn't enough, especially as it isn't (easily) possible to install multiple versions of Internet Explorer on the same computer. Four pages on CSS is nowhere near enough for someone new to the subject; we still seem to be living in the land of tables and image slicing to do layout. Though published in 2005, it feels more like 2000.
- it can't cover the technology in enough detail to be helpful to someone new, but on the other hand doesn't add enough to the aspects of design, appearance and interactivity that web pages throw up over paper design.

I think someone who wants a simple web site might do better to read William's "Non Designer's Design Book" for the more detailed design principles, Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability" for web-specific presentation, and something else appropriate for what you're working with for the technical aspects of web design - there's vast amounts of stuff online to help, and chances are you'll be starting with something off the shelf for a basic web site.
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on 19 March 2000
The language is plain and simple to understand. The chapters are fun and have a lot of useful information for beginners designing their web site.
The examples of good and bad design demonstrate visually the ideas and thoughts of the authors. The most useful bits for me personally were the chapter graphics formats and the added advice for quick ways of working with images. While more experienced designers may feel it is a little too simple for their needs, newcomers to web design and people looking to design their first site for home use or for small businesses should find that the book is a useful guide for page layout and design principles.
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on 10 May 2002
This is not a good book. The tone is condescending and the garbage-to-information ratio is very high. The book contains about three hundred pages of which the first eighty or so go into great length about exactly what this "World Wide Web" thing is, what a browser is, what a server is, etc. If you're at the stage of writing your own web pages I think you'll know all this already so why bother to include it? Besides being information-poor, the text is full of irritating asides, exclamation marks and waffle: do the authors really need to tell you how to pronounce "GIF"?

Worse, the book makes a number of fundamental errors:

- Unreasonable assumptions are made: that you are using a WYSIWYG editor (not a good idea in the opinions of many) and that you have access to expensive image manipulation utilities.

- The book makes a tacit assumption that you're American.

- Questionable statements are made without justification. For example, "default blue links" are "a sign of an amateur designer". Why, exactly?

- The authors advocate text in images. This is always wrong (the reason being that search engine robots don't look at images, just text).

Worst of all, the design examples aren't that great. You're just not getting what you paid for.

If you really don't know anything about anything you might, just might, get some value out of this book. Otherwise, spend your money on something that's going to teach you something useful.
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on 2 February 2002
Instead of taking you through the intricacies of HTML, this book concentrates on what makes a site appealing to visitors. It introduces the basic principles of design and explains how to make graphics work well on the web. We used it to help build our very first site and still use the principles it taught us now we build sites for other people.
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on 7 December 1998
Most web site designers take one of two opposite approaches: (1) overwhelm the user with gobs of information (and, sometimes, try to compensate for the resultant dullness by throwing in pointless animations, clashing colors, etc.), or (2) offer visual candy, but under all the spiffy PhotoShop graphics and Java special effects there's no useful content.
Ms. Williams starts with the most basic considerations: What is it that you want your site to SAY about you or your business? Given that, what's the most effective way to say it? Not only is the book full of useful information, clearly presented, about site navigation and design, but it's visually appealing and a pleasure to read -- just like a good web site! And, while you're having fun, you're also painlessly learning a surprising amount.
The book is rather thin on technical details, but I think this is a point in its favor: too much specific information renders a computer book obsolete almost as soon as the ink is dry; however, the design principles Williams sets out are timeless. I also liked her reassurance that you don't have to be a technical expert to design an effective web site: good thinking and planning are the only "secret." This is far and away the best book I've seen on the subject, and I recommend it highly.
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on 7 May 2002
I may be a "non-designer" but this does not mean that I'm a moron. Yet this book assumes just that: it is patronising, condescending, verbose and unnecessarily elementary. I want to write web pages and I'm looking for a few tips on how to ensure that my pages don't look rubbish. I certainly don't need a chapter telling me exactly what this "World Wide Web" thing is or a chapter on using search engines. Yet the first four chapters (and eighty pages out of three hundred) are on just such sub-basic topics. The rest of the book is irritatingly cute and the text is littered with superfluous exclamation marks, sappy asides and stuff that just does not need to be there. Page 176 has two lines on how to pronounce "GIF"; why? Worse, the book makes some fundamental errors: it assumes you're using a WYSIWYG editor (on a Mac as well), that you have access to expensive graphical tools and that Netscape and IE are the only browsers (whereas browsers on non-PC devices will become increasingly important). Worse still, arbitrary design statements are made without explanation. Exactly why should hyperlinks not be blue, pray tell? Worst of all, the design examples just aren't that great. This is the worst book I have bought for a long time. By the way, if you want a great book on web design, try 'Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing' by Philip Greenspun.
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on 18 August 1999
If you haven't the first clue how to go about designing a web page that is visually appealing and easy to navigate, this book is the one to buy. Williams and Tollett showed me the error of my web designing ways--and I have a great looking site to prove it!
Professional designers and Net-heads probably won't get much out of this book--but if you're greener than green and need to know how to design a site that works, pick this one up!
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on 13 September 1998
     The Internet is quickly becoming the most popular form of information sharing today. Many are flocking to joining the already swelling ranks of online users. Many aspire to market their own products and services. Others set out to design Websites for themselves and for others for fun or profit. Robin Williams and John Tollett teamed up to write The Non-Designer's Web Book to offer readers a no-nonsense approach to designing Websites.
     This book provides Website designers from novices to net gurus with the basic know-how necessary for designing, creating, and posting Websites. Measuring 10 3/4" by 7", essential Website design information seems to literally jump from the pages of this handy book. Quality screenshots, graphics images, good layout design, and the down-to-earth approach employed by Williams and Tollett lend themselves to effective learning.
     The authors present concise information on a number of Website design concepts. Readers will learn about basic design principles, search engines, frames, alignment considerations, Web coloring, graphic image formats, META tags, navigation, font and sizes, animation, and more. The authors are quick to point out many of the errors that plague Websites today. A chapter on advanced tips and tricks offers some creative ideas to add that special sparkle to a site and to get around common design restraints. For instance, aspiring designers will learn how to break up an image to allow for the quick loading of Web animations!
     Being more than just a book on creative Website design ideas, it serves as an effective teaching tool as well. The authors encourage reader participation throughout the learning process laid down in the book. By reading the book from cover to cover readers will treat themselves to a well-planned education in Website design. To keep readers on their toes the authors provide some thoughtful quizzes and checklists to gauge one's Website design comprehension ability.
     This is a top-notch book. The authors call upon their combined years of Website design and classroom teaching experience to convey to their readers an approachable level of instruction not offered in most books. The book is concise, beautifully illustrated, easy to read, and is just the right size to keep near your computer. Keep it within easy reach while you design your own Websites. It is also ideal for classroom use. Highly recommended!
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