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on 8 July 2005
I wasn't quite expecting this book to be so big, after checking out Jeffrey Zeldman's homepage ( and reading the other reviews on this title from Amazon I had the impression it would be an plane-English drop-in-reference style book, but it isn't; its more like a school text book, which, depending on how you look at it can be good or a bad thing.
The first few chapters are about what CSS really is, and how Zeldman thinks it should/must be used, most of the time he is right, personally on occasions I find his ideas a little lecturing.
If you are a web designer who is already aware that CSS and CSS-P is the way forward for the internet, then the first third of the book will not be so useful.
After this Zeldman goes into a mini project, which is split into two chapters with another lecture-style chapter between. I find this project and the chapters after are the meet and potatoes of the book, they are inspiring, functional and efficient.
On a final note, I found some of Zeldman's humour and jokes really not funny, maybe its me, but I got the feeling he was trying too hard, apart from this little artistic disappointment the book is really useful, I will recommend this book to any mid-level web designers!
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on 15 September 2003
Zeldman does a good job of persuading one that web standards are the future for interoperability and accessibility. The only thing (I suppose) that lets the book down is a dearth of references (a few choice ones are recommended) and only two concrete design "walkthrough" examples. However he mentions books with more references and, hey, it's the web! We can find a plethora of ref's online.
The books is quite an easy read with some nice historical discussion and ought to be accessible by anyone with a reasonable amount of experience with HTML4 (such as taught in one undergraduate module on web design or books like "Teach yourself HTML in 24 hours"). It's not a full-on CSS book, but does a nice job of introducing some CSS basics. What's nice is that it is not a "tables are bad, pure CSS is good" evangelising book but discusses and approves of transitional approaches.
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on 5 January 2004
I don't often relentlessly urge people to "buy this book!", but Jeffrey Zeldman's 'Designing with Web Standards' is one of the best web design books I've read in ages.
It's well-argued and contains easy to follow (I'd say 'idiot-proof', but...). Follow the guidelines in this book and not only will your web pages be forward compatible (compatible with standards-driven browsers of the future), but they'll also be more widely accessible and, most importantly, they'll load much, much faster.
A week with this book and I was building pages one quarter the size of my originals (i.e. four times faster loading). Again: Buy this book!
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on 23 February 2006
The title sounds a little dull and belies the importance of this book. Think about it like this; who specifies the web standards to which the browser makers are increasingly if not fully complying? The W3C. Jefferey Zeldman is the guy who wrote 'their book' about web standards.
Web standards isn't just about making sites accessible to the disabled, it's about making them work across browsers, and understanding how the whole whole website/browser thing works. Do you really understand how doctype switching works? Do you really know what XHTML is all about for example? Do you know how to separate presentation from content (cos that's the way it's going)?
The first part of the book is a general history thing and the second looks at techniques and examples. But, if you're looking for a CSS cookbook, or a complete tutorial in HTML, CSS then seek elsewhere.
If you're doing anything with websites today, you simply must read this book. It'll deepen your understanding 'and' save you time and money.
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on 30 June 2003
Jefferey Zeldman has just written THE bible for modern web designers.
He demonstrates the way that designers have got themselves in a rut with their old techniques, and shows us the path to practical web design in the modern era.
Web Standards are a difficult thing to master, but this book shows us how we can design sites in a way that is both artistic and elegant, yet meets web accessibility standards and works across every browser on every platform from PC to phone to PDA.
If you only glanced at Zeldmans work, you might think he was a zealot preaching ways that are unworkable in a business scenario. You couldn't be futher from the truth. The authors main concern is fusing the ideology of web standards, with the practicality of life in the competitive world of web site design.
As a web professional, do yourself the biggest favour you can and get this book. Use it to learn about the ideas and methods behind the web standards push, then use it to convince your managers that this is the way forward.
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on 16 December 2003
Without doubt, Zeldman is at the forefront of his field, and this book is a great collection of the concepts and practical tricks which underpin standards-based web design.
I came to it after reading the magazine site Zeldman runs, A List Apart. While it's useful to read individual articles by experts online, I wanted a more general guide to the whole subject, which this book provides.
The weakest aspect is probably the slow pace of the first half of the book. These sections make the case for standards-based design, which, while compelling, could be made much more concisely. Having said that, the joy of the book as a whole is Zeldman's discursive and amusing style which helps to keep you going through code examples which might otherwise be pretty dry. How many other authors 'break open the small salty snacks' with you when they've reached the final step of a code demonstration?
If you're in a hurry to learn CSS and XHTML, you might be best served by a Visual Quickstart guide based primarily on learning the tags. But if you take that approach, there's always a risk that you'll never fully grasp the reason for taking the extra trouble to create sites in this way. And alternatively if you just follow the many websites offering web standards tutorials, you risk missing the overview of the basics which this book presents to you in a logical order.
Overall, this book is as much about the history and the business case as the tags themselves. The end result is that you not only know the techniques, but you become an evangelist for web standards yourself.
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on 14 July 2005
This is a very important book. In Designing with Web Standards, Jeffrey Zeldman describes the way websites were coded in the twentieth century, clearly explains why this is now wrong and demonstrates how twenty-first century websites should be coded.
The common perception is that designing websites to web standards is onerous for the designer and transparent to the user - naturally, many designers choose to ignore web standards. Zeldman demonstrates that working with standards, creating semantically correct XHTML in conjunction with structural CSS is, in fact, liberating rather than oppressive.
Some may fear that this book will give them a hard time and that Zeldman (standards guru) will push web standards for the sake of web standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Zeldman is himself a website designer and as such, he delivers a very pragmatic approach to coding. The examples in the book are mainly based upon XHTML 1.0 Transitional (not Strict). Zeldman even covers the use of tables for page structure, heresy to most hard-line standards coders. The truth is that Zeldman is the best sort of evangelist. One who tells you it's OK not to go by the book if that seems impractical and you won't burn in hell as a consequence.
The book is also very instructive in the way it describes the development of web browsers and helps the reader to make sense of the many peculiarities that some browsers exhibit.
This may all sound rather dull but Zeldman has a very personable approach to technical writing. He is aware of the arcane nature of much of his subject matter and does a very good job of making it accessible and occasionally humorous.
This book has changed the way many web designers think and design. Whether you are a web design beginner or a seasoned professional, this book must be read; it will help you form opinions on web coding and will certainly help you to create better sites.
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on 10 June 2004
I bought this book on the recommendations of the reviews on amazon, and after reading the book myself I can see why. This book is a superb read, it won't actually teach you and HTML or PHP etc.. however it does teach you to take a look at how you design and build websites, and try to conform to a common standard, and to hopefully be compliant to the many browser types.
A web designer myself, I know all about the problems with getting you newly created master piece to look right were ever its viewed, this book is a must buy, you will find the book a sort of like a Web designers bible as such, I've read through it a few times and still return to it Superb book.
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on 17 January 2005
Zeldmans "Designing with Web standards" is the perfect book for anyone who has a reasonable standard of web production skills but is yet to make the transition to tablesless designs, external stylesheets and/or grasp the concepts of web site accessibility.
In this regard this book is one of the best. You need to read it from cover to cover and then return to the sections as you implement websites based on the principles discussed. This book is more about how to implement and understand web standards, with code examples but is not, in my opinion, an in-depth CSS reference or beginners manual. If you are brand new to web design, you will ned to complement this book with other in-depth material on producing HTML, XHML and CSS2 based websites.
But if you have some skills, are used to using tables in design and need to gain a greater understanding of how to implement web standards, grasp this book with both hands, find somewhere quite to read, grab a coffee and enjoy, it's one of the best
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on 19 May 2006
This is a great book which will give you a thorough understanding of web standards. If you are a budding web designer, this book will explain important principles that will save you a great deal of time when you begin creating web sites. One of the most important things you will learn is creating sites that work with all browsers, platforms and devices. Overall, this book will give you a firm understanding of web standards and what it means to be a quality web designer.
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