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on July 29, 1999
Just like the title says, if you have little or no design experience/training, this is a great book to have. But even if you have been designing web sites for a while like me (3 years), there are plenty of things you might find useful.
The book is full-color. Much of it assumes you know little about computers, HTML, and the Internet. It also assumes you are using one of the popular HTML editors and graphics programs like Frontpage and Photoshop. Even with these liabilities, there are wonderful principles, tips and techniques provided by the authors that should benefit even experienced designers.
For me, the meat of the book was the middle where it describes the basics of design, color, layout, and typography. The advanced tips and tricks chapter also offered some tidbits I hadn't thought of before. However, I breezed through the beginning and ending chapters (on the Internet, web pages, site organization, uploading your site, and testing it) because they had little to offer I didn't already know. But for a beginner this may be valuable information.
One reason I wanted this book was all of its beautiful and creative design examples. If I am stumped on how to design something, I will pick up this book and see if it may inspire me. The authors didn't provide "cutting edge" type graphics, but examples that are simple, colorful and effective.
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on February 3, 2002
Forget this book! There's a better solution. I bought this book based on my experience reading the author's Non-Designer's Design Book. I would strongly recommend buying that. The Web book though, is trying to give you overall information on a variety of software that really benefits no one particular user. A lot of the generic tips are good, but included is a lot of information on specific products, such as Photoshop, that are promoted as the ultimate for Web design. Photoshop is very expensive, and I already have Corel Draw and PhotoDraw. Most beginners would not run out and buy Photoshop anyway.
Aside from the scattered info about various software, there are also too many mistakes. As is pointed out in many other reviews here, Netscape is not preferred, and has not been the leading browser for a long time. Page 208 has a serious mistake recommending loading an entire page size graphic in order to get a horizontal block across a page. A color filled table is the correct approach. This was unfortunately typical of many errors that I found.
I have to admit that I was looking for a more design oriented book since I have some Web authoring experience. After reading the book I believe I can offer a better solution to someone looking for both design and Web building information. First, buy Ms. Williams Non-Designer's Design Book. Second, decide on which Web authoring software you might want to use. Third, buy or scavenge all the written information you can about that software. This way you will have the design information, and you'll have specific information about what YOU will actually be using. Many of these books give tips peculiar to Web design. For someone that's an absolute Internet novice, start with a book that tells you what that's all about first. They're plenty of them out there.
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VINE VOICEon November 18, 2005
Nowadays, everyone seems to have a website, from the largest Fortune 500 companies to the person next door. Some internet service providers even offer on-line software for their customers to create sites. Unfortunately many of these sites are awful. Navigation is often difficult and the graphic design is frequently an obstacle to visitors.

Readers should note that this is a new 2005 edition of an old favorite, and reviews of the second edition may not be applicable.

This book is aimed at helping people not trained in graphic design to put together better web sites. After a curious discussion of search engines, the authors explain what a web page is, how browsers work, and what servers do. The initial chapters are clearly aimed at people who know little about how the Internet works. Subsequent chapters become more technical, and even experienced site makers may find something they either didn't know or ignored. The book shows how the four design principles that Williams has emphasized in her other works (alignment, proximity, repetition and contrast) apply to the design of web sites. A chapter is specifically addressed to designing the navigation for a site. The book then discusses the use of color and typography and finishes up with some advanced design tips and information on getting your site on line and getting people to visit it.

The book operates in a curious area between no knowledge and deep technical knowledge. For example, the authors indicate that the preparation of web sites requires both image-editing and web-authoring software, and that the book is not aimed at teaching the reader how to use such software. Yet very frequently, as they explain design principles, they tell how to use software to achieve the design principles. As a result, even though the book seems aimed at beginners, it will help readers if they have some familiarity with software like Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

This book is deceptively easy and quick to read. And yet there is plenty of information between the covers. Although I consider myself to be fairly competent in creating a website, I picked up a lot of tips that can improve the sites I've created. In fact, I had a long hiatus in the middle of my reading to return to my site to make some improvements based on the authors' recommendations.

There are also a lot of little hints that can prove helpful. For example, I never considered that the apostrophe in my websites was actually just a little line, and that I could put in a real apostrophe by typing in some simple code. Although I've read a lot of web-authoring books, I had never come across this little gem. Now that may not seem very important but when one adds up all the design tips in this book, one has an agenda for good site design.

I do have one complaint. Some of the illustrations are too small to read, especially if one's eyesight is less than perfect. I actually had to use a magnifying glass as I examining some of the illustrations. This certainly sets a poor example for a book dedicated to good design.

This book will prove useful to both beginner and intermediate creators of web sites. And even the most experienced web designers may find something that will make reading this book worthwhile.
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on September 27, 2000
Too many web design books approach the subject with a jargon-laden, heavy-handed approach--not so with THE NON-DESIGNERS WEB BOOK. Williams and Tollett explain the Web, as well as design concepts, with a touch of dry humor and a unique, ultimately readable style. Reading this book is a joy due to its simple, accessible style and conversational language. It's probably one of the few web design books you'll ever read from cover-to-cover.
Who is this book for? It's mostly for the design novice. If you have any amount of experience working with the Web and creating websites, some of this stuff is going to be a little simplistic. Even so, read this book for the design concepts it presents. Too many so-called web designers know the technical aspects of creating a website, but fall far short when it comes to design skills. The basic principles put forward in this book will make you a better designer. They certainly worked for me!
If you're designing a website and you know nothing about design, invest in this book. It's a sure winner!
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on December 16, 1999
I am a graphic designer with 20 years experience in the print arena. I quit for awhile to play art gallery and now I'm back because I have to put my gallery online - and I know nothing about web design! I bought 6 different books (all ranging from $30 to $60) before I knew Robin's book was out there, and I couldn't find the basic information in any of them. Then I discovered this book - it fell on my foot in the bookstore, actually, and knowing Robin's previous works, I was really excited - while hopping around holding my foot. I bought the book and read it cover-to-cover and it gave me all the groundwork I needed plus a lot of entertainment. Robin and John have the marvelous gift of keeping it simple - even when dealing with complicated subjects - and they do it with humor! EVERYBODY can learn something from this publication - however hot you think you are. Now, I just wish Robin and John would write a book on Flash!
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on December 7, 1998
Most web site designers take one of two opposite approaches: (1) overwhelm the user with gobs of information (and, sometimes, try to compensate for the resultant dullness by throwing in pointless animations, clashing colors, etc.), or (2) offer visual candy, but under all the spiffy PhotoShop graphics and Java special effects there's no useful content.
Ms. Williams starts with the most basic considerations: What is it that you want your site to SAY about you or your business? Given that, what's the most effective way to say it? Not only is the book full of useful information, clearly presented, about site navigation and design, but it's visually appealing and a pleasure to read -- just like a good web site! And, while you're having fun, you're also painlessly learning a surprising amount.
The book is rather thin on technical details, but I think this is a point in its favor: too much specific information renders a computer book obsolete almost as soon as the ink is dry; however, the design principles Williams sets out are timeless. I also liked her reassurance that you don't have to be a technical expert to design an effective web site: good thinking and planning are the only "secret." This is far and away the best book I've seen on the subject, and I recommend it highly.
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on August 21, 1998
As a busy self-taught professional who does both Internet applications development and web design I'm always looking for very specific tools, skills, and methods to improve the quality, appearance, and consistency of my web work. This book, although featuring samples primarily on the Macintosh, is the best value for the dollar for the budding web designer, regardless of platform and develoment tools used. Its coverage of design elements, web promotion and marketing; graphics principles; and simply clarifying what one can do to make bad design become good design or to improve good design to excellent design was priceless. I obtain more knowledge (neatly collected and organized in this small book) in a shorter time than I've gotten out of much more difficult to read and more expensive treatments of the same topic. I recommend this book to anyone that has no formal design training yet would like to produce professional web content.
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on September 25, 1999
This book is highly readable and practical to any web designer. As a matter of fact, it's one book that ALL web designers should read! Why? Because the majority of websites out there are amateurishly designed! Robin Williams does a fantastic job at explaining what a professional website should be. I know because I designed my website from scratch and based on her book! It's one book I'll be recommending all my clients!
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on October 5, 2000
I am a multimedia professor and I have been looking for a book which puts together a "follow-through" on all of the variables that are out there between HTML and web-development applications. If you are looking for this, then this is the book for you. The authors don't make any bones about the fact that they cannot teach you everything. And there is a law of marketing that states that candor is one of the best selling tools. Candor is what this book is about. You do have to sift between what is possible with what is practical, but if you are not willing to do your homework, then don't buy this book. There are many points in this book where you have to put it down and go somewhere else to continue, but I feel that this book is a great place to come back to. I have used Ms. Williams other text (The Non-designers Design Book) to get across many aspects of design in my classroom. "CRAP" (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity) has been the best thing to come down the pike since sliced bread, and now I am happy to say that this text increases the strength of "CRAP" ten-fold. The only reason that I didn't give this book five stars is because there isn't a CD-ROM attached to the book to help elucidate the concepts contained within it (hint, hint) Thanks, Robin!
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on February 4, 2000
While more experienced HTML coders will be able to skip the first few chapters, this book is still a valuable resource for any skill level. Robin and John break down basic design principals and set forth straightforward guidelines for evaluating the visual effectiveness of a web site.
For folks like me who are long on technical savvy but lacking in basic design principals, this book can help turn a so-so website into a real head-turner.
At a time when every wannabe with a WYSIWYG editor wants to be called a web developer, it's nice to have a tool like this book to keep an edge on the competition!
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