Author: Kyle MacRae & Gary Marshall
Publisher: Haynes, 2009
Aimed at: Non-programmers, complete beginners to website building
Pros: Clear, well illustrated advice
Cons: Over-emphasis on blogging
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
Publishers of the workshop manuals that car owners have relied on for decades recently moved into the sphere of IT. Having tackled the obvious hardware topics (see Computer Manual <ASIN:1844254402>, Computer Troubleshooting and Build your Own Computer<ASIN:1844254577>) authors Kyle MacRae and Garry Marshall have applied the same format of clear explanations, lots of full-colour pictures and step-by-step guidance to creating a website or blog. The book is aimed at non-programmers and is for complete beginners to web design, It adopts well structured approach and quickly moves through the introductory aspects (which are well worth reading as they point out some very important pitfalls) and gets on to practical questions such as whether or no to pay for hosting. The first step-by-step is on buying a domain name and web space. Having considered some options for website design including Microsoft Expression Web and Adobe Dreamweaver it adopts the free program NetObjects Fusion Essentials for the first tutorial on building a basic web page which comprises 20 steps and results in pages with text and photos. The next part of the tutorial (9 steps) uses more free software to enliven the page with a header image and the third (5 steps) uses free web space in order to post the pages online. The same free software in used in the next tutorial on building a more extensive site. There are more steps but there is clear guidance throughout. Creating a blog is covered in the next two tutorials - the first being about how to gather information to keep abreast of your chosen topic using RSS feeds and the second on the specifics of creating a blog. If you are not interested in blogging you may want to skip 50 pages.
So far the book has relied on "kit of parts" website building but in Part 5 it moves on to starting from scratch with HTML. It provides an explanation of tags, elements and attributes and uses a very simple step-by-step example to get you started, following this up with advice on the use of elements for markup, creating links between pages and adding images and tables. A second step-by-step puts this together to create a site using HTML. This site is extended in the next tutorial, on cascading style sheets (CSS), into something more sophisticated. The book rounds off with two useful appendices - on search engine optimisation and building an online shop.
This is a good introduction to web-site building for the beginner who wants to experiment without having to spend money on software.