Web Pages that Suck

principles of good design – shown by critiques of bad sites

This is a web design guide with a twist: it teaches by negative example. Yet it works – and has become a best-seller. The subtitle tells all: ‘Learn good design by looking at bad design’. The idea of learning how to make a nice website by looking at naff aspects of existing websites, and avoiding their sucky techniques, is a good one. The book is fun to read, but you get a lot out of it too. Flanders and Willis have no wish to impress you with their understanding of difficult, techie aspects of web design. Their line is that you should avoid getting carried away and keep things simple

This book shows that you can start a website yourself and watch it grow into a big and successful thing – because that’s exactly how Web Pages That Suck came to be a best-selling book. It’s based on a website made by Vincent Flanders that got listed as a Yahoo! Pick of the Week and became very popular. For that reason, it’s very well illustrated – and the idea of critical analysis of bad examples is one which has also been proved to be effective by Web guru Jakob Nielsen in his recent Designing Web Usability.

But be warned – it doesn’t set out to teach you HTML from scratch, if that’s what you want. It comes with a free CD full of useful things – but then so do lots of magazines. You also have to put up with lots of photos of the authors in ‘comic’ poses. But as writers, they are what the cover says: ‘Funny, opinionated, and always to-the-point [with] a reputation for being the Web’s leading critics’.

© David Gauntlett 2000

Vincent Flanders and Michael Willis, Web Pages That Suck, San Francisco (CA): Sybex International, 1998, pp.384, ISBN 078212187X

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