Web Design in Easy Steps and other good reads

Web Design in Easy Steps

Still having an affection for the traditional physical hardcopy book, I began my quest for web design knowledge in my local library  and to my surprise found some decent books.  I can heartily recommend Web design in easy steps by Sean McManus, which is clear, concise and covers a lot of ground from planning a site and creating effective content to HTML and shopping carts. A very good introduction. Its fifth edition is bang up to date featuring HTML5 and CSS3.

Styling Web Pages with CSS

I tried creating a home web page using an example from the book Styling Web Pages with CSS by Negrino and Smith.  I’m getting to know that different web browsers respond differently to the same bits of code, so that for example, an image that I have coded to move or float to the right of the screen using CSS, does so perfectly well in Chrome but not so in Internet Explorer or Firefox. I’ve probably made a typo or an error somewhere along the line which Chrome can cope with but not the other two. It can be frustrating to see something work in one browser and not another. It’s the way of the world apparently!

The book itself could be more helpful in advising you on how to adapt the techniques it shows to your own pages, and not all the code for the example pages it shows, are in the book . If you do use the book, google ‘Alpaca Repo’ and you’ll find a version of the site online (but they don’t tell you this!), and this will also save you having to type in all the code. The book shows you how to build a quick website using CSS much more than in the course, and it shows you how to use divs to style the different sections of a page.

Brilliant HTML5 and CSS3

However, a quick glance this morning at Brilliant HTML5 and CSS3 by Josh Hill and James A Brannan tells me that although the <div> tag offered ‘much greater control and nicer looking web pages, it still wasn’t a solid structural framework’.  It’s still widely used and accepted but is outmoded and has been replaced by more understandable tags using sections, footers, nav etc. It does look an improvement but I will still learn how the <div> tag works first so I’m in the know as it looks like most current web pages have used these. Brilliant HTML5 and CSS3 is a good reference guide with useful exercises to try out but I wouldn’t buy it – borrow it from the library and then buy……

HTML5 in Easy Steps

I highly recommend HTML5 in Easy Steps  by Mike McGrath. I wouldn’t start with this book though, and I’m glad I read this a bit later than the other books. I think it would help to know a little bit about HTML, CSS and JavaScript first, because one of the great things about its approach is that it integrates all these throughout the book, rather than keeping them separate. In this sense, it’s got a more realistic approach but it may be a bit much to take in for a beginner.

It also has a much more contemporary feel about it and focusses much more on the new aspects of HTML in HTML5 and has good reference sections at the back. All the code is available online too.

The In Easy Steps books are clearly laid out and great value so if money’s too tight to mention, they’re a good buy.


One thought on “Web Design in Easy Steps and other good reads

  1. For accesibility and backwards compatibility try the JavaScript library Modernizr on modernizr.com . Should help you quite a way. There are other web pages where you can enter the codes you use for your web page and get graphics on what browsers support what codes and formats.

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