- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (Oct. 6 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0735713286
- ISBN-13: 978-0735713284
- Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 367 g
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,034,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Web Design on a Shoestring Paperback – Oct 6 2003
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At the height of those flush dot-com days, Carrie Bickner, in her role as Web developer for the New York Public Library, was about to embark on an ambitious site redesign project, one that would entail bringing aboard information architects, graphic designers, editors, and writers. Then the stock market suddenly tanked and the bottom fell out of her budget. Reduced to a two-person staff, she quickly learned how to do a lot with a little. And with, Web Design on a Shoestring, a lean but power-packed book, Bickner, along with some fellow "shoestring warriors," shares this knowledge and shows how each phase in site development can trimmed back without losing control, quality, or beauty.
Using case studies and countless anecdotes throughout the book, she begins with some steps for good project planning: find a clear focus for the site, figure out what resources (hardware, software, people) are already available, and, (this will cause a knowing smile for many readers) keep the number of decision makers small. She outlines how to document the goals and requirements, both functional and technical, and advises keeping this documentation where every team member can see it. The book covers user testing, proving that usability checking neednt be sacrificed when moneys tight, and theres helpful advice on what makes good written and visual content.
But the pot of gold in this book is in the chapter on content-management systems (CMS), especially ones that save money like templates, cascading style sheets (CSS), server-side includes (SSI), and open-source CMS solutions. Bickner discusses how employing good markup and adhering to Web standards can make your site work on the widest range of browsers and devices and even goes over some fine points of proper XHTML. She finishes with some sage words on choosing and registering a domain name and comparison shopping for domain hosting.
The checklists at the start of each chapter and little "Budget Threat" sidebars make Web Design on a Shoestring a handy desk companion for any money-strapped office. And isnt that every office these days? --Angelynn Grant
About the Author
Carrie Bickner is the Assistant Director for Digital Information and System Design for The New York Public Library. Bickner writes for AListApart.com as well as several Library Journals and Technology Electronic Reviews. She is the co-author of The New York Public Library Online Style Guide, a manual for transitioning to CSS and XHTML. She is a popular speaker at conferences like Web Design World, The Public Library Association annual meeting, and South by South West (SXSW).
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If he (and I aim this at any solo entrepreneur, or anyone else with limited resources) had read Carrie Bickner's book first, he might have spent as little as a tenth of his eventual cost, with greater satisfaction, and the ability to update his site more easily and inexpensively in the future. Bickner takes a holistic view, looking at the fabric of the site from initial planning, to hosting, to web standards. She's also ready with suggestions along the way to economize, whether it's by backing-off features you can't afford, through savvy design choices, or in careful selection of service providers.
Be warned: this book assumes a fairly broad array of skills and knowledge that one person alone might not likely hold. You may gloss over her suggestions for planning, usability, copywriting, and design without understanding their necessity. Likewise, the technical discussions of CSS, XHTML, content-management, and web hosting may be too detailed or obscure for your liking or experience. This is not a guide for beginners. If you've never launched a site before, use this book with trusted colleagues who have, and who are willing to share Bickner's perspective.
Though she mentions it only in passing, her New York Public Library Style Guide is a wonderful parallel resource that ties her into the web standards community. Once you tap into Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyers, or other folks in and around alistapart.com, you'll appreciate even more how Carrie Bickner's simple little book is tied to the cloth of the web universe. This is a handbook (not a cookbook) that you might have around for a while.
Whether the economy is strong or in a slump, there's always a company with a shrinking budget that requires cutting funds for the IT and other departments. Furthermore, companies are creating a standard budget for their Web sites like any other portion of their business and they don't get the outrageous amounts of money like those who did in the '90s. With much of the cost going towards hardware and networking, Web managers are stuck with the short straw and have to make do with the little resources they have available.
With the availability of quality free or low cost software and guidance from Web Design on a $hoestring, these Web sites can survive and even thrive. Doing things on the cheap isn't limited to software as project management, team involvement, content, and technologies have an equal hand in building a successful site.
While the most of the advice is common sense, Bickner offers a few tricks most people even the tech-savvy may not consider. For instance, many shy away from CMSes (content management systems) because of their high price tag. Disregarding CMS is a mistake with the viable and affordable solutions available, but it doesn't mean going shopping and just looking at the price tags without paying attention to the features. The process is similar to purchasing a computer in that it's important to determine what features are needed before shopping. "Content Management on a Tight Budget" describes the features to consider and offers suggestions for bargains.
It's tempting to skip user testing and save the bucks, don't do it. Use the suggested workarounds for conducting tests without sacrificing cost and quality. Layout, markup, and images may not sound like something to worry about when under a tight budget. However, it's how they're used that can make the difference when it comes to bandwidth costs.
Buying this book is cheaper than spending resources on researching and brainstorming waves to save money. The book also saves time in providing a handful of resources for various categories such as CMS. So rather than searching every CMS in the world, use the material to narrow down the search and start from there. No starting from scratch. The book provides the necessary support to get the design team working on solutions right away.
Since the dotcom bubble burst, web designers have been expected to deliver whizz-bang websites for pocket change. They are supposed to do the work of five people with a fifth of the budget. This book is intended to help the designer who is trying to work within a tight budget.
"Web Design on a Shoestring" is packed with tips on planning, testing, and building websites when working with small margins. It is full of helpful advice about where to go for low-cost resources, such as image libraries and web hosting providers. Plus there is a special section about saving time and money by designing with web standards.*
I heartily recommend this book to any web designer who is feeling the pinch, and to others who would like to make a few extra bucks for their efforts.
*For more on designing with web standards, I recommend a book by Jeffrey Zeldman, called ... er ... "Designing with Web Standards". Some might say that they were a match made in heaven...
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The title of this book is both accurate and simultaneously misleading; it does teach how to make web sites on a shoestring, but it also...Read more