Most helpful positive review
One of my top 3 favorite web design books
on November 24, 2002
I picked up this book at a [competitors store] actually, on one of my numerous web and graphic design book shopping sprees, and read it cover to cover over the next week. Ann Marie's book is SO GREAT and so unlike *anything else out there* for web design, that I wanted to make sure I gave it a positive review here, to let other web designers know this is a definite must-have.
So first I read the other reviews here and it looks like most people agree that "Start to Finish" is fantastic, there's a couple people who must have thought it was a different kind of book and so gave it a poor review.
So to set the record straight, this is NOT a book just for beginners, though the first chapter is definitely for that group. (How to set up your workstation.) I just skimmed through that one. The rest of the book covers the complete process; and I mean COMPLETE, of getting a web site from an idea in someone's head to live on the web.
The other thing that may trip you up: The author says right up front that this book will *not* teach you how to do HTML or create web graphics. (She says there were already hundreds of those on the shelves when she sat down to write the book, and she lists her favorite "how to" books in the appendix.) So don't buy this book if you're hoping it will turn you into an expert coder, that's not what it's about.
So what IS it about? As Ann Marie says, "it's about everything else." And that's why I found it so valuable, because it's real-world information, tips, and recommended techniques that I've never seen anywhere else. Well at least never all in one place, like this book is. She talks about managing the project, the design process, what and how to develop site architecture, trafficking content, the prototype/client review process, best ways to run a proof meeting, production tips, search engine optimization, traditional and "geurilla" marketing techniques, how to maintain the site, I'm telling you EVERYTHING. How to choose the right host. How to bid. What are the best mailing lists and portals. How to analyze web logs and use that info to tweak the site. And so on.
I've done over 20 web sites for friends and clients and bosses and still learned a TON of "can use it today" type of things from this book.
But to me the main reason I ran over here to review Start to Finish was to let people know how FUN it is to read a computer book written by someone who can WRITE! When was the last time you read a web design book that gave you at least a chuckle or an "ah-ha!" on every page. I see other people here and have mentioned this too. She is the opposite of dry and boring, but she's not glib... she's obviously a gifted technical writer. I have set Amazon.com to e-mail me when she publishes another book, I don't care what it's on, I'm getting it.
Well I guess the only negative thing I was going to say about it is that I found many of the links in her appendix (which I've xeroxed and tacked to the wall in my workstation, it's that helpful) to user groups, design portals, listservs etc. are out-of-date. I know that's understandable. I said I was "going" to say this because I just read her intro to the appendix again and realized that she keeps an up-to-date version on her website, senecadesign.com. I just visited there and saw that it was true, so nevermind!
Buy this book! It's great! But be sure to also buy one about HTML or DHTML or whathave you, because this book doesn't cover that.