The Non-Designer’s Web Book

best-selling Web design manual for beginners

Robin Williams is a top Web design guru, and this is one of her best-selling books. You can see why. The Non-Designer’s Web Book is clearly presented, beautifully designed, and lavishly illustrated with full colour screen shots and examples of successful Web pages. It’s a book for beginners. Everything is chunked into single or double-page spreads; all the main points of her advice are clearly illustrated; and she covers every stage of establishing a Web presence – from understanding how the Web works to designing, uploading, and promoting your own site. Users at an introductory level will like her approach, because she assumes you will want to use a web editor such as FrontPage, Netscape Composer, or Adobe PageMill.

There are no details of coding – unless you must – and each chapter ends with a self-assessment quiz. You can check what you have understood, before moving on to the next step. She explains the advantages of Web over print publication – full colour at no cost; interactivity with customers; and instant updates.

She’s also very good on the need for page design basics – alignment, repetition, contrast, and proximity. That is, page elements should be arranged on a grid; topics should be tightly grouped, not scattered; and colour coding plus repetition should be used to create visual unity and coherence.

She shows why designing Web pages is different from designing printed pages, and why a site can look terrific on one monitor but terrible on another. There’s a lot on creating and controlling graphics, and plenty of examples of good and bad design. A couple of chapters describe how to avoid obvious mistakes that would otherwise make your work look amateurish.

The book also includes details of how to get a site up and running, register your domain name, and add it to search engines. After the design is finished and implemented, the site has to be uploaded and updated – and this is explained, too.

If you’re going to build Web sites, for either personal or professional use, but you don’t know where to begin, start with this book. It’s easy to read, avoids confusing jargon, and it’s full of do’s and don’ts to help you avoid common snags.

© Roy Johnson 2000

Robin Williams and John Tollett, The Non-Designer’s Web Book, Berkeley (CA): Peachpit, 2nd edn, 2000, pp.304, ISBN: 0201710382

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