Web Design Studio Secrets
Book Review by Mike Bianchi


idg logoBRAND X Software’s all new WebCruncher version kazillion will have you creating and publishing web sites in minutes without the need to know any HTML

How many times have you heard that claim? Every major software publisher has a WYSIWYG  HTML editor and their marketing department makes that same statement. The major advantage of HTML editors is that they allow everyone and their grandmother to quickly and easily create their own web pages. The major disadvantage of HTML editors is that they allow everyone and their grandmother to quickly and easily create their own web pages. 

Although it’s not as much a problem as it was a few years ago, there are still way too many sites on the web whose only purpose is to say ‘See, I told you I could make a web page.’ But what does it take to create an effective site? That is the question addressed by this book.

Each chapter consists of  an interview with a different, successful web designer. The first half of the book discusses different design techniques and tools, from the initial planning phase to creating rollovers using JavaScript. The second half of the book discusses specific applications used to develop page elements. About two thirds of the chapters in this section cover various multimedia applications for the development of elements ranging from animated GIFs to Immersive Imaging. Immersive Imagery is the new name given to Virtual Reality that does not include the connotation of bulky helmets and wired gloves.

But how good is it?
As I stated earlier, the focus of this book is the design of effective web sites; effective being defined as accomplishing a goal, usually selling a product or service. When I received the book, the publication date was only a few months old. Even so, browsing the web to look at the sites used as examples in the book, I found that most of the sites either did not exist, locked my browser or were not still using the same design as in the book. I don’t know about you, but to me that doesn’t say a lot for the effectiveness of the design.

The one site that I was able to find was impossible to navigate. The clickable objects were small and moved all over the page. In fairness, the intended audience of this site would be considerably younger and presumably more agile than I am. Nevertheless, I was never able to get past the first page.

Web Design Studio Secrets has a lot of good advice about web site design. Most of the information in this book was not anything new to me, but this is the first time I have found this much information in one place. The information presented in this book is all available free on the web if you can find it. If the time it take to search it out is worth the price of the book, then I would recommend this book to any experienced web designer. However, it is not recommended for the beginner. There is a lot of good information on the use of multimedia functionality such as sound, streaming video or virtual reality, a lot of designers tend to overdo such features until the presentation overshadows the content. In the end, the first rule of design for the web, or any other publication medium is ‘Use Common Sense’.

Title: Web Design Studio Secrets, 2nd Edition
Authors: Deke McClelland, Katrin Eismann, Terri Stone
Publisher: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.
ISBN: 0-7645-3455-6
LCC#: 00-100827
Reader Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Publisher’s Price: $49.99 (US)