Web Standards Creativity

4 comments | Posted: 27 April 07 in Books, by Nathan Smith

Web Standards Creativity Every now and then, there a book comes along that really makes you stop and take notice. We review plenty of tech books on this site, and each one is a tome of knowledge in its own right. Web Standards Solutions though, is a work of art unto itself. Each page is full-color, with entire pages varying in color theme from the next. It feels as though you’re thumbing through a high-end design catalog. I’d rank it right up there with The Zen of CSS Design.

Not only will this book serve to grace your coffee table, and make visitors “ooh and aah” over your fancy role as a web designer, it is also chalk full of helpful code and graphics tips. As with any multi-author book, each chapter has its own distinctiveness. Rather than attempt to down-play this, as with tech books, the chapters reflect the personalities of the author, both in tone and design. Here’s a run-down of each chapter’s topic…

Chapter 1 by Simon Collison
In this chapter, Colly covers the design process behind two of his acclaimed designs. He shows how to have solid markup, but at the same time create a distressed looking website in keeping with a band’s musical style. The sites that are discussed are: The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things.

Chapter 2 by Dan Rubin
This chapter is also about a band website, Lifehouse. Dan explains the CMS limitations he was up against, and how he creatively used CSS to wrangle the underlying XHTML under presentational control. He covers everything from his initial sketches › to Photoshop › to the final product.

Chatper 3 by Ethan Marcotte
Departing from the band topics, Ethan goes in-depth on the planning, design and code process that went into remaking New York Magazine. He covers some adept code-forking that was necessary to get IE5 to behave on Windows as well as Mac. Thankfully, IE5 has since been dropped from the A Grade list.

Chapter 4 by Andy Clarke
The king of malarkey cuts loose in this chapter, and walks you through creating a lighthearted, fictional site called WorrySome. He digs into the modern method of using CSS attribute selectors to target highly specific areas of your markup. He also makes mention of Dean Edwards IE7 script, which forces Internet Explorer 5 + 6 to respond to these more advanced techniques.

Chapter 5 by Jeff Croft
Jeff covers everything PNG, showing how to make use of this great, loss-less format. One thing that has slowed PNG adoption, though it is superior to both GIF and JPG, is that Internet Explorer doesn’t do PNG alpha channels very well. He shows helpful tricks to get these bad browsers working correctly, and explains how they were used on the 49 ABC News site.

Chapter 6 by Mark Boulton
This chapter is all about designing on a grid. A hold-over from the days of print design, this organizational technique lends itself well to web design. The grid involves logical layouts of content, as well as attention to typographical detail. If one chapter is not enough, Mark has also self-published a book on grid layouts, entitled Five Simple Steps – Designing for the Web.

Chapter 7 by Rob Weychert
Robs chapter picks up where Mark’s left off, and delves further into the rich history of typography. He creates a classical looking site (using modern methods of course). It’s an homage to the famous dark poet Edgar Allan Poe. You can see the results of his case study here – wsc.robweychert.com.

Chapter 8 by Ian Lloyd
One of the leading voices in web accessibility, Ian Lloyd shows you how to use JavaScript to make things more accessible. Impossible, you say? Not so. He goes through the code necessary to format a page on the fly in preparation for printing. This makes content more accessible as a physical, paper copy.

Chapter 9 by Cameron Adams
Better known as The Man in Blue, Cameron is inarguably one of the most authoritative JavaScript experts alive. If you haven’t seen his new Blobular SVG demo, it will blow your mind. In this chapter, he shows how to make a modular, user-driven Newsvine style layout, complete with drag and drop.

Chapter 10 by Derek Featherstone
Derek is yet another leading expert and international speaker on web accessibility. In this last chapter of the book, he shows how to create advanced JavaScript animation effects, while at the same time keeping the content accessible to assistive technologies like screen readers.


So there you have it, one of the most comprehensive compilations of real-world web design solutions and techniques. I cannot emphasize enough how nice of a book it is because of it’s full-color print. When Molly Holzschlag agrees to be the tech editor, and Andy Budd writes the forward, you just know it’s gotta be good. All ten authors have knocked it outta of the park with this one.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Rick Curran

    Excellent, sounds interesting. I hadn’t heard of this book before, the Friends of Ed books I’ve read before have all been great.

    Off to add this to my wishlist :)


  2. 2 Justin Thorp

    Is it worth the $40 bucks though?

  3. 3 Michael Montgomery

    Excellent book, and I haven’t even finished mine yet.

    Yes, I think it’s worth the cost. (And Amazon has it for about $33 with free shipping.)

  4. 4 Nate Klaiber

    Just finished reading this this afternoon. Is it worth $40? Yes – some chapters are much better than others. I really enjoyed Jeff Croft’s chapter with PNG’s, as well as Mark Boulton and Rob Weychert with Grid and typography (respectively). Those three chapters alone made it worth the $40.

    Any book that has 10 incredible, well respected, authors and covers broad topics through 3 sections (html/css, print, dom) is bound to leave a few things out. In some cases, each chapter could have been an entire book – but taking things in context makes this book a great overall read.


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