This is the only book I used to study for the site designer exam, and I passed with an 87 percent. To be honest, I didn't even use the book as much as I could have. I think the book was written very clearly; it doesn't have too much technical jargon (if that's what you're looking for), but it has material that is very relevant to the exam. It might not be 100% comprehensive, but it is very close. The book has some little mistakes and typos in some of the code, but for the most part (and if you know the material for the foundation exam) you can tell what is right and get the most out of the book. Here's what I did: I read every chapter in detail, except for the chapters on Frontpage, Dreamweaver, Homesite and Flash (Chapters 13-16). I did read most of the Homesite chapter carefully, but I only skimmed the other three. I recommend you read these too, if you can. I had experience with many of the things covered in this book, which is why I didn't do everything the book required of me. For every chapter in the book (including 13-16), I did read/answer the pre-chapter questions and the multiple choice after the chapters. The senarios are also okay, as they may reinforce your knowledge as the material. I have to admit, I was too lazy to do any of the exercises. Finally, I skimmed every chapter (pre-chapter questions, chapter summary and multiple choice) and then did the exam in the appendix. I think I got a 90 percent on that one. I didn't even try the CD-ROM until one hour before my exam, and was surprised to see (I think it was 4) quite a few practice exams. I had time to install it and rush through one exam in like 15-20 minutes. I RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO ALL OF THESE; THEY ARE VERY GOOD PRACTICE FOR THE EXAM. I then went to the center and passed my real exam (I spent almost a full hour on it), as I made sure I went over and checked every single question/answer before I ended the test. I advise you to avoid stupid mistakes as much as possible because two or three questions can make you fail this exam.
First of all let me congratulate you for taking the time and the effort of getting certified, if you are reading this means that either you wish to get certified with the best tools available or you are a designer looking to improve yourself, great, let's start. About this book, this book is extremely long, but extremely useful for your web site design career, you will be reading material that is not covered in the exam but you will use in real life. Also, is excellent if you want to improve yourself as a designer and wish to have a resource book in case you encounter a new technology or refresh your terminology, it gives you tips and statistics that will make you a better designer. I recommend this book; just give yourself time to read it. Some people like to read only the summaries, others like me, like to read the book from cover to cover, after all, you are getting certified to prove you to know how to design a web site not to prove you can pass "a" test. The best feature in this book is the CD. It comes with a test engine that so far is the best I've seen, the drawback is after a few times of taking these quizzes, you will know the questions and the answers by heart. One feature that I really liked on the test engine was that if you answer wrong it will show you the correct answer right away. Be sure to allow enough time to read all the chapters, a month and half should be enough if you are disciplined (Assuming you are doing this after work) and take all the quizzes on the test engine. One last thing, be sure to visit all the web sites that you can that are related to the exam, questions might have changed and new subjects might have been introduced since the time this book was written. Support your training with braindumps, online free tests and other people's experience. I wish I can help you more. Best of luck!
This book is rather a hard slog, mainly because there's too much waffle. It made me wince to have to wade through paragraphs like "Web Browsers are HTML interpreters that are designed to understand and render hypermedia. Not only can browsers read HTML files, but they can also read graphic files, sound files and other types of media formats". Compared to the For Dummies "CIW Foundations", this book is a real chore to read. Much of the content simply rehashes what you must already know since you must have already passed CIW Foundations, and the key facts you need for the Site Designer exam are scattered sparsely like pearls in pigswill. Sadly, there are very few alternatives to this book right now. Come on Dummies, give us a better Site Designer prep.
I can't say to many bad things about this book considering I passed, but I did find the book rather long and repetitive. There seemed to be a good deal of "filler" material in it that was not very relevant to the exam. Also, given that I studied this book intensely and scored a near perfect score on the practice test while only an 87% on the real test, I would say there were some questions that the book did not cover. When I took the foundations test, I used the "For Dummies" book. Although I've never liked the idea of buying a book with I title like that, I do admit it was very well written. It covered just the material that was on the test, no more no less. Hopefully they will put out a Site Designer book in the same format. In the mean time, this Bible will get the job done.
While this book covers all aspects for the CIW Site Designer Exam, it tends to concentrate on some aspects more then others. For instance, it hardly covers databases, but it really goes in depth with FrontPage. It appears the author leans toward certain applications more then others and has a slight bias. Finally, I would recommend this book for those taking the exam.