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Web Design on a Shoestring Paperback – October 16, 2003

ISBN-13: 075-2064713289 ISBN-10: 0735713286 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (October 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735713286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735713284
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,840,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

At the height of those flush dot-com days, Carrie Bickner, in her role as Web developer for the New York Public Library, was about to embark on an ambitious site redesign project, one that would entail bringing aboard information architects, graphic designers, editors, and writers. Then the stock market suddenly tanked and the bottom fell out of her budget. Reduced to a two-person staff, she quickly learned how to do a lot with a little. And with, Web Design on a Shoestring, a lean but power-packed book, Bickner, along with some fellow "shoestring warriors," shares this knowledge and shows how each phase in site development can trimmed back without losing control, quality, or beauty.

Using case studies and countless anecdotes throughout the book, she begins with some steps for good project planning: find a clear focus for the site, figure out what resources (hardware, software, people) are already available, and, (this will cause a knowing smile for many readers) keep the number of decision makers small. She outlines how to document the goals and requirements, both functional and technical, and advises keeping this documentation where every team member can see it. The book covers user testing, proving that usability checking needn’t be sacrificed when money’s tight, and there’s helpful advice on what makes good written and visual content.

But the pot of gold in this book is in the chapter on content-management systems (CMS), especially ones that save money like templates, cascading style sheets (CSS), server-side includes (SSI), and open-source CMS solutions. Bickner discusses how employing good markup and adhering to Web standards can make your site work on the widest range of browsers and devices and even goes over some fine points of proper XHTML. She finishes with some sage words on choosing and registering a domain name and comparison shopping for domain hosting.

The checklists at the start of each chapter and little "Budget Threat" sidebars make Web Design on a Shoestring a handy desk companion for any money-strapped office. And isn’t that every office these days? --Angelynn Grant

From the Publisher

Now more than ever, individuals and companies alike are pinching pennies. But that doesn’t mean your web site needs to suffer. In fact, the economy shouldn’t even matter. Whether you’re experiencing great cash flow or a dismal downturn, there are all sorts of things you can do to make your web site and your workflow better. And author Carrie Bickner makes it easy.

This shoestring book is about more than pinching pennies. Sure, it will save you money, but it’s also best practices–-the things that save you time and enable you to put your energy toward creativity. My most favorite things about this book are Carrie’s Chapter Checklists and her writing style. The Checklists give you immediate ways to take action-–whether it’s implementing web standards, cleaning up your design, or making sure you’re not spending too much on hosting--and her conversational tone makes it a fun, engaging read.

Jennifer Eberhardt, Editor

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Some might say that they were a match made in heaven...
Simon Jessey
This is a "must have" book for anyone who is involved in or responsible for a web site or intranet.
Elizabeth Hepola
For a long time I've hoped that someone would write a book like this.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Davey on November 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Web Design on a Shoestring is divided into two parts: Production covers planning the site and marshaling assets; The Tools covers content management, standards compliance, and web hosting and domain registration.
Ms. Bickner's theme is that proper planning will keep your project in line and your clients' expectations in check. The point almost goes without saying, but the value in this book is its practical approach that is backed up with checklists and planning documents to put the advice into play.
Plenty of real-world examples inform this book. Chapter 7, for instance, shows a step by step transformation of a web page built on tables and presentation tags into a standards-compliant page based on CSS. I have read a couple of other makeover articles, but Ms. Bickner does a superior job of showing the before and after and describing how to get there. In the process, she makes a compelling case for the value of standards compliance in terms of efficiency and results.
Some sections I found difficult to understand, and while it might be me, I think some editing was needed.
My notes have a number of sections to re-read for solutions to problems I have encountered and for things I want to do better. The sections on planning a site are required reading, and I personally found the CSS makeover to be instructive and actually inspiring. The style is informal but not overly chatty, with good charts and instructive examples, and with suggestions based on sound judgment.
Despite some unevenness, this book has value for anyone making the step from tagging pages to developing full web sites. While the focus is on the small-scale or part-time designer, Web Design on a Shoestring has lessons for anyone who works with limited time or resources.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "sanchez467" on October 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
For a long time I've hoped that someone would write a book like this. I've also feared it, because the wrong writer, by taking a superficial approach, would kill the topic ... and I believe this is a subject that cries out for more than one book. Fortunately, Bickner's book does the topic justice.
First a confession. As a web designer with over seven years' experience, I've designed, coded, and produced more than 50 Web sites in my career but never once had the opportunity to work on a big budget project ... not even during the so-called dotcom boom years.
So what Bickner talks about in this book is not a new world to me, it's the world I work and live in. This makes me a writer's worst nightmare, because I feel I know as much as anyone about exceeding expectations with little to no support. I expected to be able to trash this book but instead I found myself learning a lot. The chapters on hosting costs and gotchas and on content management systems were particularly useful.
There's also a risk that a book like this will be too general for its own good, but Bickner seems to know what to include and what to leave out. Her focus is consistent throughout ... it's all about delivering great results even when your budget is laughably small. She writes well and respects the reader's time. I like this book, will keep it on my desk, and recommend it highly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Maliga on June 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was talking with a friend who had just had a web site built. It was a simple site with attractive graphics and probably fewer than 10 separate pages. It had no shopping cart, and suffered from the typical Flash intro that interrupted visitors before they had time to explore what they wanted. I offered a gentle critique, and then casually asked him how much he paid to build the site. I could hardly contain my shock when he waved his hand in the air and said, "oh, about $20,000".
If he (and I aim this at any solo entrepreneur, or anyone else with limited resources) had read Carrie Bickner's book first, he might have spent as little as a tenth of his eventual cost, with greater satisfaction, and the ability to update his site more easily and inexpensively in the future. Bickner takes a holistic view, looking at the fabric of the site from initial planning, to hosting, to web standards. She's also ready with suggestions along the way to economize, whether it's by backing-off features you can't afford, through savvy design choices, or in careful selection of service providers.
Be warned: this book assumes a fairly broad array of skills and knowledge that one person alone might not likely hold. You may gloss over her suggestions for planning, usability, copywriting, and design without understanding their necessity. Likewise, the technical discussions of CSS, XHTML, content-management, and web hosting may be too detailed or obscure for your liking or experience. This is not a guide for beginners. If you've never launched a site before, use this book with trusted colleagues who have, and who are willing to share Bickner's perspective.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hepola on November 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a "must have" book for anyone who is involved in or responsible for a web site or intranet. Whether you are a Decision Maker/Manager with little technology know how or a seasoned Web Professional, you will find something of immediate value that will not only save you money but time as well in an increase in productivity.
Carrie Bickner has done an excellent job of distilling out what is truly essential to creating well crafted, successful sites (under any circumstance.) Excellence is not only NOT sacrificed but she moves the reader through how to "think" the web as well.
I would not let the title dissuade those who may not have budget constraints as she does an excellent job of helping the reader focus on what is really important (and how to achieve it regardless of the circumstance.)
Of the several dozen (or more) Internet related books I have bought over the past eight years as an Internet Professional, only a core set of books still get used and remain true dispite technology advancements.
This book will not get stale for a very long time and I've added "Web Design on a Shoestring" to my core library. I plan on using it as a training resource for staff and am recommending it to colleagues and friends. If you could only afford several resource books, I'd make sure this was one of them.
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