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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 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, 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.
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on July 31, 2002
I purchased this book last week and I have already found it to be one of the most useful resources in my research of the web design field. For those of you considering purchasing this book I will warn you that it does not cover in detail any topics related to web development. It also doesn't teach winning concepts using HTML or how to design graphics using the latest version of Photoshop. It is, however, a how-to book to guide you through the actual design process.
I recently entered into the web design field as a freelance artist, but after working with only three clients I realized that I needed direction that extended beyond the usual topics discussed in design manuals. I was specifically having trouble strategizing for meetings with prosepective clients. Most people who will contract you as a web designer will have no concept of the process it takes to design a professional business website. This book will give you an adequate game plan in dealing with these types of clients. It also provides several useful tips on how to effectively manage a web design project. Many intermediate designers (like myself) will find this book to be a little too basic in scope, but I have found it to be an excellent purchase nonetheless. I highly recommend it.
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on August 24, 2001
What a find this book is. The chapter on Creating Search Engine Friendly pages, especially the funny and eye-opening side section called "Search Engine Myth Busting" was worth the price of the book itself. I just came out of a meeting with a web client where we discussed this exact topic, and now they think I'm a guru! The author has definitely done her homework. She separates the wheat from the chafe and lays it out clearly. I especially liked the areas where she explains how to handle managing different parts of the project, like "if you're the project manager and someone else is doing the designing, here's what you hand over, here's what you should make sure they know," etc. She does the same if you're the designer ... "here's what you need from the client, here's where you shouldn't proceed until you get their approval." People in this business know that with larger projects there's usually a lot of chefs messing with the broth. This book helps you to keep that under control without ruffling feathers. Exactly like the title says: How to create a web site in a *professional* way. There's lots of production info here too (like fonts that will always work, where to find and how to add CGI scripts), but just the right amount of information is presented... not too elementary, not too advanced, exactly what I needed -- since I've been avoiding using some of these more advanced things since I never really understood what they're about. The appendix is incredible. I didn't know about the web-design listserv for example, or all the places where I can get free, useful CGI scripts with help files. All in all an incredibly helpful from-the-trenches sort of guide full of primo information, by a gal who really knows how to write. I can't wait for her next book! (I hope it's on e-commerce.)
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on November 23, 2001
This book provides a solid foundation for beginning and aspiring web designers. Covers almost all apects on web site production, but not in a detailed manner.
One deficiency this book has is that it does not even mention testing for usability, which is an essential element in making professional and usable web sites and making the production and updating processes much less headaching.
The book name is also deceiving. The book puts an emphasis on prodcution rather than design. No detailed descriptions on how to design in web applications like Photoshop and Dreamweaver, nor how to use CSS, DHTML, etc. However, she does mention many useful resources in the chapters as well as in the appendix.
Bottom line: Get this book if you are an aspiring or beginning web designer, don't get it if you are anything more than that.
For a similar but more advanced and detailed book, check out Kelly Goto's "Web Redesign: Workflow that Works".
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on November 27, 2001
I thought I would share my letter to the author as it best sums up my most favorable opinion: "It is definitely rare that I would feel so moved as to write to the author of any book. But--I just wanted to thank you for writing such a helpful and easy to digest book about the web design process. I have a background in art and design but have been stammering through the web design process somewhat independently for the last few years. As a result, I have been in search of a book that could enlighten me on "the way it's really supposed to be done". Your book has been so helpful to me and was a source of encouragement to me through my last project. I also have to say I get a real kick out of the tone of the book--I hope you have a few more in you!! I certainly have had my share of dry/dull geekie books--fortunately your book will not topple that dusty stack. Again, for what its worth, thank you!!"
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on August 20, 2001
I'm going to reread this book every time I start working with a new client on yet another web site. It's a straightforward treatise on web design as a whole--very useful in planning and keeping a web project on track. I'm going to take the "Essential Pre-design Tasks" section and use it as an outline for those initial teeth-pulling planning meetings with clients embarking on their first site. I may also send copies to professional web design firms I've worked with who never ask half these questions before diving into an orgy of Flash animation. Whether you're designing, art directing or commissioning a web site, this is the most useful book you can have on your shelf. (And the author is an entertaining writer-- in English, not html.)
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on May 7, 2004
First off, for me, the book is 1-2 stars, but it turned that I am not the target market. I thought it better to rate it based on how it addresses those it is intended to.
This book is a quick-read containing good common sense in the process of developing a website. It's organized in the way you would go about the process from identifying what the site should become through publishing it. It also does a good job of giving ideas while staying away from the HTML and specific technologies.
If you already have a good understanding of developing software of any sort, most of the book rehashes what you should already know. There are still some design considerations that may be new, but for the most part not worth the price of admission.
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on September 16, 2001
It is seldom that you find such a beneficial book so easy to understand. As both a professional and casual web designer, I not only uncovered many things in this book that I knew nothing of, but my knowledge of things such as professional design planning was increased exponentially. This is a MUST HAVE for anyone who considers themselves a web designer, as a reference or as an educational guide. Concepcion, being a seasoned magazine writer, approaches very complex tasks in a down-to-earth manner, making it easy for beginners to understand, while not alienating someone more advanced like myself. I know what all of my fellow webmaster will be receiving for Christmas this year.
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on September 27, 2002
I recently purchased this book (along with many others) to brush up my technical knowledge of web design. I was rather dissappointed in the novice nature of this book. There was some solid information about how to manage your time and projects; however,I felt that a chapter dedicated to setting up your internet connection was unneccesary. My two cents: great book for the true beginner (and by beginner I mean someone who has only seen a webpage once or twice in their life and has somehow decided to delve into webdesign).
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on November 30, 2001
This book fulfills its title promise by providing comprehensive professional information on where and how to start when designing a web site. The text is clear, logical and easy to read. The author included a glossary and a host of resouce information. The page design is well done and inspiring. I learned far more from this book than from a $420.00, 6-week state university course on web design. Ann Marie knows her stuff! I recommended this book to my class peers and to the university.
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