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Designing with Web Standards (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321616951
ISBN-10: 0321616952
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

About the Author

Dubbed King of Web Standards by Business Week, Jeffrey Zeldman ( was one of the web’s first designers and bloggers. He publishes A List Apart “for people who make websites;” runs Happy Cog™, a leading web design studio; and co-founded An Event Apart, The Deck, and The Web Standards Project.

Versatile user experience designer/developer Ethan Marcotte served as a steering committee member of The Web Standards Project, and has worked with clients including New York Magazine, Harvard University, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Books to which he has contributed include Handcrafted CSS, Web Standards Creativity, and Professional CSS. Ethan writes and does technical editing at A List Apart, and is a popular educator and conference speaker. He would like to be an unstoppable robot ninja when he grows up (

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 3 edition (October 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321616952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321616951
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeffrey Zeldman is among the best-known Web designers in the world. His personal site ( has welcomed more than than 16 million visitors and is read daily by thousands in the web design and development industry. In 1998, Zeldman co-founded The Web Standards Project (, a grassroots coalition of web designers and developers that helped end the Browser Wars by persuading Microsoft and Netscape to support the same technology in their browsers.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By katherine Hicks on November 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
During the prehistoric era of the internet, there was no real guideline for making a website. It was done how one pleased: put a table here and there and viola, you have your layout. But tables were not meant for layout, they were meant for tabular data. Examples such as these are seen in "Designing with Web Standards," and how they can lead to the detriment of the webmaster.

While "Designing with Web Standards" is not necessarily code-intensive, it provides plenty of real-life situations where web standards are important. It is not a guide to creating your website; rather, it is a guide to improve upon it. Jeffrey Zeldman demonstrates that web standards will, in the long run, save you a lot of trouble.

This book is a good read for those who wish to clean their websites and overall make the website less time-consuming and easier to manage.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard Fink on November 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As used by Jeffrey Zeldman and co-author Ethan Marcotte in the third edition of Designing With Web Standards, the term "web standards" is a catchphrase that refers to writing web pages using, as a basis, a group of free and open technical specifications. The core specs being HTML, CSS, and Java­Script. Think of them as the three legs of a tripod upon which all else rests.
In no way futuristic, this has already happened. HTML, CSS, and Java­Script are at the heart of publishing in the 21st century. DWWS3 is largely about authoring with these and other related specs in smart and efficient ways that could, more simply and accurately, be labeled best practice. The first edition of DWWS in 2003 was in large part a work of advocacy. But six Internet years have passed and today it's main­stream. As I've labeled it on my blog, Readable Web - [...], the third edition is, simply, Required Reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary E. Albers on March 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There have undoubtably been enough useful reviews of this book already written to enable anyone interested to form an accurate assessment of its contents. Some reviewers have rated it poorly because it was not the comprehensive CSS instruction book they expected. Perhaps they were misled, in part, by some of the five-star reviews that were a bit over-zealous in their praise of it as a book about CSS. With that in mind, I'm hoping another short review will help clear up some of these misunderstandings.

First, the book is NOT a comprehensive treatment of (X)HTML or CSS. It is, however, perhaps the best book around about WHY web standards are important and how they can be utilized to produce semantic markup properly separated from presentational styling, improve code weight, increase accessibility, and deal with cross-browser incompatibilities. Toward this end, Zeldman uses enough good code examples to get his message across. Although it is true that a large portion of the book is dedicated to hard-core preaching about the value of modern standards, the included code is succinct and useful. In particular, his dissection of an actual well-designed website in the last chapter is a gold mine of valuable information.

Zeldman has been at the forefront of the effort to evangelize web standards for many years. He and others (e.g., Cederholm, Marcotte, Moll, Budd, etc.) deserve much of the credit for informing designers about the advantages of standards-based design techniques and getting browser manufacturers to shift from their history of internecine warfare toward endorsing common standards. That has not been an easy task. I suggest that we should all cut Zeldman a little slack if he seems at times to be a bit too passionate.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By HTML5 Maniac on January 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't understand the extreme popularity of this book. I think there are much better titles on the topic, from which "Web Standards: Mastering HTML5, CSS3, and XML" by Leslie F. Sikos is my new favourite, and it is superior compared to this book.

The readers od Designing with Web standards cannot learn the top reasons why so many websites are invalid, and--what's even more important--how to create fully-standard compliant websites while considering the most aspects without crossing the line of unreasonable support for obsolete browsers.

One thing is for sure: the authors might be famous Web developers but they are not good writers at all. They provide very few sample code, many of which apply various hacks for backward compatibility (mainly to support IE6). For example, providing hack for a transparent PNG image using JavaScript just to support IE6 is a huge mistake (writing about IE3 and Netscape 4 is another). One of the golden rules in website standardization is to avoid browser targeting, and writing clean, fully standards-complaint markup and styles instead, and provide a less advanced user experience in earlier browsers (still the information is there). Version targeting is a bad practice true standardistas do not use.

There are no skeleton documents that could be used for step-by-step development, especially when starting Web documents from scratch. Evidently, the authors are not true hand coders even if their knowledge and influence on Web standards are unquestionable.
Although Zeldman correctly interprets some advantages of XHTML over HTML, he recommeds the Transitional variant of XHTML 1.0, which actually allows strictly presentational elements and attributes that have been deprecated in the Transitional variant of HTML 4.01 way back in 1999.
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