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165 of 168 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this had been around when I first started web design...
It's been awhile since I've taken a look at what passes for a beginning web development book these days. I decided to examine Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (3rd edition) by Jennifer Niederst Robbins. All I want to know is... why weren't books like this around when I was trying to learn this stuff...
Published on August 5, 2007 by Thomas Duff

versus
87 of 104 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beginners review of this book
As from the title, i am a beginner of HTML and CSS. I am reading books to help me have a better understanding of web design when i go to learn Dreamweaver and Flash. If you have read my other review on "Sams Teach yourself HTML and CSS" I bought these two books and i am rating them against one another on how well i learned something since they are the only two books i...
Published on October 20, 2008 by Bob barker


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165 of 168 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this had been around when I first started web design..., August 5, 2007
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
It's been awhile since I've taken a look at what passes for a beginning web development book these days. I decided to examine Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (3rd edition) by Jennifer Niederst Robbins. All I want to know is... why weren't books like this around when I was trying to learn this stuff?

Contents:
Part 1 - Getting Started: Where Do I Start?; How the Web Works; The Nature of Web Design
Part 2 - HTML Markup for Structure: Creating a Simple Page (HTML Overview); Marking up Text; Adding Links; Adding Images; Basic Table Markup; Forms; Understanding the Standards
Part 3 - CSS For Presentation: Cascading Style Sheets Orientation; Formatting Text (Plus More Selectors); Colors and Backgrounds (Plus Even More Selectors and External Style Sheets); Thinking Inside the Box (Padding, Borders, and Margins); Floating and Positioning; Page Layout with CSS; CSS Techniques
Part 4 - Creating Web Graphics: Web Graphics Basics; Lean and Mean Web Graphics
Part 5 - From Start to Finish: The Site Development Process; Getting Your Pages on the Web
Appendix A - Answers; Appendix B - CSS 2.1 Selectors; Index

The first clue that things were different is that it's a full color book. So not only can the code examples be color-coded for clarity, but you don't get black-and-white graphics that attempt to illustrate a full-color web page. Next, covering XHTML and CSS together means that the reader gets the correct foundation for how to separate content from structure. I personally still have a bad habit of using HTML tags instead of using CSS like I really should. Had I had Robbins' book when I first learned, I'm inclined to think I'd have fewer bad habits to get rid of. Finally, she hits a sweet spot in covering issues like browser quirks and incompatibilities. It's not so in-depth that the beginner gets lost, yet it's detailed enough that even those who have been doing web work for some time will likely pick up or rediscover a few things they didn't know or had forgotten.

For those working through the book as a tutorial, there are plenty of exercises that reinforce the skills you've acquired. After going through the material, there should be very little in the way of HTML and CSS coding that won't make sense. The only part of web design that this book doesn't cover is JavaScript. So if you're coming to this book hoping to learn how to make your page dynamic and interactive via scripting, you'll go away disappointed. Personally, I think it was a wise decision to leave that out. The target audience is more likely to want to build a basic page with static content to get started. Throwing programming skills at them might be enough to confuse and discourage, which would be a shame. There's more than enough material here with HTML and CSS to get plenty of value for your book buying dollar.

I have a colleague at work who is dipping her toe into the world of web design. She asked me if I knew of any good books to get her started. I'll be shipping my copy to her, as I'm quite confident this will be exactly what she needs...
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84 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets, October 23, 2007
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
It's a curious aspect of creating sites for the World Wide Web that its not always clear what the titles of the people who perform the functions necessary to do this should be. When I think of design, I think of determining what a site should look like. Robbins thinks that web design is about coding the documents that will ultimately be displayed in a browser window. That's what this book is about, and I'll use her definition in the future.

Web sites are prepared by creating a document in a form that web browsers can translate into something that can be presented on a monitor screen using a special set of symbols called Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). "Learning Web Design" teaches the reader how to use this language to develop a site.

The book introduces broad concepts and then shows the specific language necessary to create content, neatly organized into chapters that deal with text, links, images, tables, and forms. Next the author discusses the use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which is the current method of giving form to the content that allows smaller, quicker loading, and easier-to-change documents. Each chapter presents the basic concepts, walks the reader through exercises that apply the concepts, and then presents a review and test to make sure the reader grasps the chapter. Documents to work on are easily downloaded from a dedicated web site. While the lessons provide the basic information necessary to create a web site, Robbins generously sprinkles the chapters with references to web sites that examine more complex issues for those interested in learning more or developing special applications.

This book teaches web design in as simple and clear a manner as is possible for this topic, and no one interested in learning how to create a web site from scratch will be disappointed.

The real question is why one might want to learn to create a web site from scratch? Today many web-hosting providers make an on-line tool available that lets people create a basic site. If all you want to do is create such a site, you don't need to know HTML. However, if you want to provide something more complex, you can create a site by writing the language yourself.

At the other end of the scale, if you expect to create many sites, you may find it more expedient (but also more expensive) to use software like Dreamweaver. However, while Dreamweaver doesn't require you to know HTML, it may be easier to use if you understand what's going on "under the hood." And even with Dreamweaver, occasionally things get so complex that the quickest solution to a web design problem may be writing in HTML.

Some experienced web design people say that once you have learned HTML it's quicker and easier to write it directly. (Occasionally, I think this point of view may be just showing off, but mostly I believe it.)

There are also some people (like myself) who learned HTML several years ago and have not kept up with changes. In recent years eXtensable HTML (XHTML) (a more precise mark-up language) and CSS have come onto the scene that newer browsers can use to present more effective websites. This book is an excellent way to update one's knowledge.

If you find that you need to learn HTML, or XHTML, or CSS, I can't imagine a clearer text than this book.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Introductory and Refresher Text, August 19, 2007
By 
Larry (Somerville, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
So, you want to learn how to design web pages and sites. Well, the title suggests you came to the right place. Did you? In my opinion, yes. The book covers the basics of HTML and XHTML, along with the CSS necessary to show it off.
It's amazing how much - and how quickly - web design has changed over the last few years. If you're new to the party, this book explains the current best practices in a clear manner. If you haven't kept up, this book will prove to be a good refresher course.
The text is concise and clean, and the use of colors and a multitude of sidebars really enhance the learning experience. There is a strong emphasis on the separation of content (XHTML) and presentation (CSS), which, as we all know by now, is a good thing.
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87 of 104 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beginners review of this book, October 20, 2008
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
As from the title, i am a beginner of HTML and CSS. I am reading books to help me have a better understanding of web design when i go to learn Dreamweaver and Flash. If you have read my other review on "Sams Teach yourself HTML and CSS" I bought these two books and i am rating them against one another on how well i learned something since they are the only two books i have read at this time. Because it is alot of info, i will indicate the pros and cons of this book:

Pros of this book:
1. The book is in color compared to "HTML and CSS in 24 hours".
2. The exercises are fun and there are alot in this book.

Cons on this book:
1. I think this book hardly covers any area compared to HTML and CSS in 24 hours".
2. This book is over priced for what better quality you get out of the 24 hour book"
3. Her appendix on code in the back of the book is only 2 pages long, thats a joke compared to how much code is out there and the 24 hour book has 10+ pages of code to help you out.
4. The chapters arent laid out well.

Overall, compared to most books, i think this book was ok by only the excerises that were in the book and it to be a decent hands on book. Do i think this book is for beginners, yes, but it only scratchs the surface. If you want a good reference guide, i would recommend "HTML and CSS in 24 hours" because when it is rated between those two books, the other book is soooooo much better, read my review on it to help you better.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Upgraded to This Edition - It is Excellent, September 12, 2007
By 
Hartley J. Jackson (Lyndonville, VT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
Learning Web Design, 3rd Edition is pleasure to read, it is really well written. It begins with how to start, how the Web works, and the nature of Web design and she makes it interesting.

The second part of the book is on HTML markup and standards based structure. Here you learn how to start with your content, to give it a logical structure, to add your text, links, images, to use tables and forms, and to understand today's and tomorrow's standards.

The third part of Learning Web Design is about CSS for presentation. You learn how you can develop your own unique and beautiful web sites, and how to change them easily just by modifying your CSS styles.

Creating Web graphics and optimizing them for the Web fills the fourth part of the book, and the shorter fifth part is about the site development process and getting your pages on the web.

There are exercises throughout the book that you can do to test and solidify your learning. There is a Web support page with material you can use for some of the exercises.

When you are done with your studies, or even before that, this book is a good reference where you can easily find the information you need for most of the tasks you want to do or problems you may have.

Jennifer Robins writes reading this book "feels like sitting in my classroom." It must be a very nice classroom.

I used the second edition of this book for working on our NVMUG site and converting it to standards base CSS. This third edition of Learning Web Design is almost totally new and so much improved that I have ordered a copy for myself.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed without being geeky, January 18, 2008
By 
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
Kudos to Jennifer Robbins for writing a technical book in layman's terms. Her writing, examples, exercises and outline of the book allow a person with very little (X)TML/HTML/CSS skills to understand the rudimentary mark up it takes to create a Web page. While I say rudimentary, the book goes beyond that and, I have to admit, for those who have never dived into creating Web pages, there is a learning curve. As she states somewhere, the book is like being in her classroom. The book is very much like a textbook but without being dry. And while the exercises are clearly laid out, it would oh-so nice to be able to have Jennifer go over the exercises "live". But, we are talking about a book.

I gave the book four stars instead of five for two reasons:

1) She doesn't meld (X)MTL mark up and CSS together very well. While she does an excellent job at explaining the two, she presents the mark up language in such detail that I almost became too dependent upon mark up and had a hard time bridging to CSS and making the two come together. While she makes a great distinction between the two and emphasizes how potent CSS is and how using CSS can eliminate redundancy in (X)HTML and make pages load more quickly, she never quite brings the two together to make it all click.

She says in Chapter 8, I believe, maybe it's Chapter 9, that one can skip the next few chapters and go directly to the CSS part if they so choose. Not a good idea.

2) I was astonished at the amount of typos and the errata. The errata are corrected on the publisher's Website. I didn't know about the availability of the corrections until I spent two hours following an example and an exercise and never achieved the right results, despite following the book mark up by mark up. Being extremely frustrated, I wanted to contact the publisher. I finally went to the publisher's Web page and saw the errata section. Maybe I should have known that this is typical for technical books. Did I miss something in the introduction that states there's and errata page on the Web? (The same holds true for errata for "1 Hour Web Site: 120 Professional Templates and Skins.")

But it's the amount of blatant typos that took me aback. The typos get in the way of Robbins' excellent writing. It's like listening to a great CD that has a scratch in the middle of a song.

All in all it is a very good resource. I appreciate, too, that it is in color.

One last thing: Actually do the "TEST YOURSELF" exercises. By doing them, it allows that much more of her teaching to sink in.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Beginner or Student Book, September 15, 2010
By 
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This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
I teach introductory web design in an art college's continuing education program and this is the book I started recommending to my students (who are often artists, writers or designers wanting to develop basic web design skills) after one of my students purchased it as a HTML/CSS reference book. This book is ideal for a complete beginner, more advanced web students may need or want something more sophisticated.

Here's why I recommend Learning Web Design to my beginner students:

1) The book is in color. Most (possibly all) of the HTML and CSS reference books my students buy are in black and white. For creative, non-technical folks, this can be a challenge--wading through page after page of black and white text can be mind-numbing. The design of the book uses color to indicate key pieces of code, etc, which is very helpful for beginners.

2) The book doesn't cover everything--and doesn't pretend to. It thoroughly discusses the basics of HTML, CSS, web graphics and the process of creating a web site and introduces some intermediate concepts, but really only covers what 90% of beginners need to know.

3) The writing tone is friendly (I like the Dummies Guides for the same reason), which is great for non-technical users.

4) The exercises that accompany each lesson are good, and are nice jumping off points for students.

5) The discussion of graphics is better than in most books I've seen--it seems that a lot of basic web design references drop the ball in this area, probably because they're trying to cover so much material in the HTML & CSS sections.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly, highly recommended, September 2, 2007
By 
ueberhund "ueberhund" (Salt Lake City, UT United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
I was very impressed with this book, as it provides an excellent introduction to a standards-based approach for creating web sites. Developers or designers who are new to writing HTML, or individuals who are simply looking for a refresher book should look no further. The author takes the reader through the whole process of creating a web site: from HTML, to adding style elements, to basic graphics considerations, to more advanced topics. This is a very well thought out, thorough book.

Frankly, I was surprised at the depth of material included in this book. In addition to an excellent CSS reference, the author goes into more advanced topics, including the CSS box model, what exactly is Unicode, and even how to create web graphics. The addition of this extra material will satisfy advanced readers, but also give beginning HTML coders something to work up towards. In other words, once you cover the basic material of this book, there's still more material for you to learn.

If I had my way, I'd make this book required reading for all web developers. This is a great addition to any web developer's library. Even those who already have a lot of experience with creating web sites--you might learn something.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book for beginner, December 27, 2007
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This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
As a 60-year-old woman beginning to develop a website, I found
this book to be unquestionably the most helpful book I have read. I
appreciate the fact that it is also well-written.

I now have a comprehensive understanding of what I am doing,
which makes learning code much, much easier.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please update, August 14, 2011
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This review is from: Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics (Paperback)
Jennifer is a wonderful writer and teacher. The book is very well organized and as a beginner to web design I was able to get through the book and come away feeling I had learned at least the basics. My biggest gripe would be that the book really needs to be updated. Throughout the book there are issues covered which simply do not exist anymore. Browsers have been updated for years since the issues she is covering were a problem. So lot's of potential wasted time here by readers. I'm sure this book must be selling at a large enough volume to warrant an update each year or two at the very least. Also my smaller gripe would be that there are times when I couldn't replicate the coding as she intended. And the correct coding was not included in all the exercises to to see where my own work had gone wrong. All in all though it is an excellent book so I still recommend even while only giving it three stars.
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Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics
Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics by Jennifer Niederst Robbins (Paperback - June 15, 2007)
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