Designing with Web Standards

by Joe Gillespie — Dec 1, 2003

Jeffery Zeldman is renowned in Web design circles for his tireless work in promoting Web standards, both to browser manufacturers and to the Web design community. His new book, "Designing with Web Standards", brings together all his thoughts, arguments and philosophies into one neat package that is both easy to read and entertaining.

Zeldman's claim that 99% of all Web sites are obsolete might come as a surprise to many designers who think that they are at the cutting edge. We all know that the various browsers and browser versions can be a pain but some designers choose to ignore the problem. Some use 'browser sniffing' techniques to try to isolate problems, but it is easy to make a browser pretend to be another one. Zeldman says that the only real answer is to adhere to Web standards because that is the only reliable way to design sites for now and for the future. He goes on to back-up his case with examples of real sites, some of which only work in Explorer on a PC.

We have all heard the argument, 'But that's what the client wanted!'. That is a lame excuse served up by equally lame designers. Clients, bless 'em, think that they know what they want and have to be convinced otherwise to protect them from their own ignorance. Armed with the information in this book, any designer should be able to dispel the myths and half truths that many clients incorporate into their 'briefs'.

Further in, the book does a very good job of weaning designers off the dubious techniques that produce obsolete Web pages and gently pushes them forward into using more standards compliant methods. Using example sites and code snippets, Zeldman points out exactly where the problems arise and how they can be circumvented – using XHTML instead of HTML, CSS rather than tables and scripting the DOM (Document Object Model) to make Web pages behave more like applications.

Chapter 16 is a complete makeover of a typical Web page resulting in one that is more browser (and user) friendly. It starts off showing how to arrive at a realistic set of goals, establishes basic parameters and then goes through the whole process of building the page with a series of simple, easy to grasp steps.

In a Web full of mish-mash hacks and incongruities, this book provides a breath of fresh air – and indeed hope. I just wish that the guys who produced the site for my bank had read it!

If you never read another book in the next twelve months, read this one. I can't recommend it enough! A 100% must read for all Web designers!

Designing with Web Standards
Author Jeffery Zeldman
Publisher New Riders
ISBN 0-7357-1201-8
Price $35.00 (Amazon $21.00)
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