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Designing with Web Standards (3rd Edition) Paperback – Oct 15 2009

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 3 edition (Oct. 15 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321616952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321616951
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2 x 22.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #357,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

About the Author

Dubbed King of Web Standards by Business Week, Jeffrey Zeldman ( was one of the web’s first designers and bloggers. He publishes A List Apart “for people who make websites;” runs Happy Cog™, a leading web design studio; and co-founded An Event Apart, The Deck, and The Web Standards Project.

Versatile user experience designer/developer Ethan Marcotte served as a steering committee member of The Web Standards Project, and has worked with clients including New York Magazine, Harvard University, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Books to which he has contributed include Handcrafted CSS, Web Standards Creativity, and Professional CSS. Ethan writes and does technical editing at A List Apart, and is a popular educator and conference speaker. He would like to be an unstoppable robot ninja when he grows up (

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Useful book, clear examples, interesting links. I read it from cover to cover. Good reference, basic. I would have liked to have more design examples, but i guess i'll have to browse sites and look at their source code for this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2db03f0) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2cbee34) out of 5 stars Shows Importance of Web Standards Nov. 23 2009
By katherine Hicks - Published on
Format: Paperback
During the prehistoric era of the internet, there was no real guideline for making a website. It was done how one pleased: put a table here and there and viola, you have your layout. But tables were not meant for layout, they were meant for tabular data. Examples such as these are seen in "Designing with Web Standards," and how they can lead to the detriment of the webmaster.

While "Designing with Web Standards" is not necessarily code-intensive, it provides plenty of real-life situations where web standards are important. It is not a guide to creating your website; rather, it is a guide to improve upon it. Jeffrey Zeldman demonstrates that web standards will, in the long run, save you a lot of trouble.

This book is a good read for those who wish to clean their websites and overall make the website less time-consuming and easier to manage.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2cbee88) out of 5 stars Required Reading Nov. 25 2009
By Richard Fink - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As used by Jeffrey Zeldman and co-author Ethan Marcotte in the third edition of Designing With Web Standards, the term "web standards" is a catchphrase that refers to writing web pages using, as a basis, a group of free and open technical specifications. The core specs being HTML, CSS, and Java­Script. Think of them as the three legs of a tripod upon which all else rests.
In no way futuristic, this has already happened. HTML, CSS, and Java­Script are at the heart of publishing in the 21st century. DWWS3 is largely about authoring with these and other related specs in smart and efficient ways that could, more simply and accurately, be labeled best practice. The first edition of DWWS in 2003 was in large part a work of advocacy. But six Internet years have passed and today it's main­stream. As I've labeled it on my blog, Readable Web - [...], the third edition is, simply, Required Reading.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa494c180) out of 5 stars Still a classic! March 1 2011
By Gary E. Albers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There have undoubtably been enough useful reviews of this book already written to enable anyone interested to form an accurate assessment of its contents. Some reviewers have rated it poorly because it was not the comprehensive CSS instruction book they expected. Perhaps they were misled, in part, by some of the five-star reviews that were a bit over-zealous in their praise of it as a book about CSS. With that in mind, I'm hoping another short review will help clear up some of these misunderstandings.

First, the book is NOT a comprehensive treatment of (X)HTML or CSS. It is, however, perhaps the best book around about WHY web standards are important and how they can be utilized to produce semantic markup properly separated from presentational styling, improve code weight, increase accessibility, and deal with cross-browser incompatibilities. Toward this end, Zeldman uses enough good code examples to get his message across. Although it is true that a large portion of the book is dedicated to hard-core preaching about the value of modern standards, the included code is succinct and useful. In particular, his dissection of an actual well-designed website in the last chapter is a gold mine of valuable information.

Zeldman has been at the forefront of the effort to evangelize web standards for many years. He and others (e.g., Cederholm, Marcotte, Moll, Budd, etc.) deserve much of the credit for informing designers about the advantages of standards-based design techniques and getting browser manufacturers to shift from their history of internecine warfare toward endorsing common standards. That has not been an easy task. I suggest that we should all cut Zeldman a little slack if he seems at times to be a bit too passionate. It has always required passion to kick money-lenders out of the temples!

Finally, although this is not a primary text on HTML and CSS (of which there are many), it would undoubtably be of value for any aspiring website designer to have on the shelf next to the main text. I suggest this is especially true considering the recent "victory" of HTML5 over the (X)HTML path. In attempting to respond to the constraints of the real world, HTML5 allows much "sloppy" markup to survive. The need for better discipline in the world of website design will be with us for some time to come. Hopefully Zeldman's book will continue to steer designers in the right direction.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa494c078) out of 5 stars Inaccuracies and lack of structure Jan. 15 2012
By HTML5 Maniac - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't understand the extreme popularity of this book. I think there are much better titles on the topic, from which "Web Standards: Mastering HTML5, CSS3, and XML" by Leslie F. Sikos is my new favourite, and it is superior compared to this book.

The readers od Designing with Web standards cannot learn the top reasons why so many websites are invalid, and--what's even more important--how to create fully-standard compliant websites while considering the most aspects without crossing the line of unreasonable support for obsolete browsers.

One thing is for sure: the authors might be famous Web developers but they are not good writers at all. They provide very few sample code, many of which apply various hacks for backward compatibility (mainly to support IE6). For example, providing hack for a transparent PNG image using JavaScript just to support IE6 is a huge mistake (writing about IE3 and Netscape 4 is another). One of the golden rules in website standardization is to avoid browser targeting, and writing clean, fully standards-complaint markup and styles instead, and provide a less advanced user experience in earlier browsers (still the information is there). Version targeting is a bad practice true standardistas do not use.

There are no skeleton documents that could be used for step-by-step development, especially when starting Web documents from scratch. Evidently, the authors are not true hand coders even if their knowledge and influence on Web standards are unquestionable.
Although Zeldman correctly interprets some advantages of XHTML over HTML, he recommeds the Transitional variant of XHTML 1.0, which actually allows strictly presentational elements and attributes that have been deprecated in the Transitional variant of HTML 4.01 way back in 1999. If you do not use them--which is exactly the right policy, there is no reason to prefer XHTML 1.0 Transitional over XHTML 1.0 Strict (although it is true that is was an unfortunate decision of the W3C to deprecate the fundamental target attribute of the anchor element in the Strict variant). He mentions HTML5, but do not really writes about its XML serialization, XHTML5, which is now the most advanced markup language. He evidently knows the advantages of the XML syntax, yet emphasizes HTML5 as the markup language of the future Web instead of XHTML5 (even if WC3 and other bodies suggest the HTML syntax too for general-purpose projects). According to the title, it should be a book for Web standardistas, not just for "ordinary" Web developers.

The book features color screenshots about entire webpages--thus occuping huge space--instead of the relevant portions of them. There is no reason to provide color images about almost empty screenshots (e.g., Figure 3.3). Actually, the book shows more bad examples than good ones. This holds for both the images and the code listings.

Although many standardized technologies are described in the book, they are not differentiated clearly from de facto and de jure standards, and non-finalized specifications. Moreover, the technology-specific discussions become obsolete quickly.

Several important topics are missing from the book. Writing a book on Web standards without chapters about validation, standardization bodies, conference and website resources, or step-by-step guides is pointless. Web standardization is much more than writing standard-compliant markup or style sheets. The RSS and especially the Atom news feed standards are also missing from the book. There is nothing about Semantic Web standards such as RDF.

The book has no structure at all. Even if a reader remembers a CSS technique read somewhere in the book, he won't find it later due to the lack of structure, the large overlapping between the various chapters, or the incorrect heading levels (e.g., the HTML markup language family, the XHTML markup language family, and HTML5 are on the same level although they should be on different levels).
Some vital concepts are also missing from the discussions, e.g., the Open Web Platform, which would make readers understand the relationship between a variety of Web standards.

The topics are in an illogical order. Terms should not be described without proper introduction. The relationship between topics should be taken into account, and those topics that rely on other ones should be described later.

The importance of Unicode in character encoding is not emphasized, and no special characters or ideographs are mentioned that are used by a large share of natural languages throughout the world.

In the typography chapter, some outdated, obsolete techniques are described in detail before the conclusion which clearly states: they should not be used because of their weaknesses. Bravo.

There are some serious errors in the chapter on accessibility. It is simply not true that table based layouts do not affect accessibility. They do. Just imagine the text the screen reader software of a blind user would speak out loud when it reaches a table used for layout (which is actually one of the worst practices in web development ever). Tables used for layout break the logical flow of the content. In spite of what is written in this book, the requirements of Section 508 and WCAG 1.0 are not compatible. The authors confuse machine-readability (semantic content) with accessibility, which is another huge mistake. And simply because they don't want to (or can't) describe Web accessibility in detail, they suggest three books instead. The newly introduced structuring elements of HTML5 add semantics (meaning) to elements, but you should not confuse this kind of meaning with machine-processable metadata used on the Semantic Web. The authors did.

Even if they might be rendered differently under very old, obsole browsers, declaring font size in pixels instead of ems is a well-known accessibility and usability barrier, yet used throughout the book.

There is a chapter about the DOM, but the tree representation is totally missing, and the book dives into DOM scripting from one sentence to another.

Some of the sample codes use entities instead of directly written UTF-8 characters, which is not the optimal solution (e.g., copyright sign).

The book is ridiculously verbose and redundant. For example, it is described correctly at the very beginning why using spacer GIF images is a very bad practice, but in the accessibility chapter there is a suggestion not to add attibute value to the alt attribute of spacer GIF images.

The "witty" comments and "jokes" are really annoying. What's more, the text flow is constantly interrupted by badly written, incomplete citations. Another common problem is that single-line, evident code fractions are described on whole pages, wasting paper and the reader's time.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa494c264) out of 5 stars Good but Nov. 30 2009
By Brian Edwards - Published on
Format: Paperback
Overall good but I question the intended audience of this book. It seems to be directed at people who already know a lot about web design but then goes on to explain the basics. It glosses over a lot of the important issues and seems to ramble on and on about the trivial. The book doesn't really get started until part II. Part 1 could be 1/3 the current size if it didn't repeat itself every few paragraphs. I do like the philosophical/theory type of talk that Zeldman delves into but it just needs to be tightened up. Maybe in the 4th edition?

Anyway, part II is where the book really shines. He explains a lot directly and indirectly by which I mean he selects examples that give you specific code but that also give insight into comprehensive design decisions even when doesn't directly address them. Chapter 17 is a perfect example of this. It makes you really ponder your design decisions.

All criticism aside, I ordered the companion book "Developing with web standards" because I like Zeldman's third edition so much.