Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way (Book review)

Finally a book that teaches beginners how to build websites with modern methods. An entire book that does not recommend layout tables, spacer GIFs or invalid code is a fantastic thing. And yes, it is a beginners’ book. Keep that in mind before buying it.

You may know the author, Ian Lloyd, from his work with and for being a member of the Web Standards Project. Both accessibility and web standards are of course very important parts of building a website the right way, so Ian certainly has the knowledge required to write a book like this.

Being a beginners’ book, Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS is not meant for web professionals who already know about web standards. It is the kind of book you can refer web design novices to without being afraid they’ll learn something outdated that they will later need to unlearn. It is also useful as a starter for people who are familiar with old-school web development methods and want to catch up with standards-based web development.

The book starts with the basics. The very basics. One of the first headings in the book reads “What is a Browser?”. Don’t worry though, it gets more advanced than that later on.

After that very basic start, Ian explains the basics of everything you need to know to create your own website. Everything from XHTML and CSS to getting your site online and setting up a blog is covered, all in a very friendly voice that makes even difficult subjects easy to understand.

Something that can come in handy even for more experienced web professionals is the XHTML reference in the back of the book. It isn’t intended to replace the full W3C recommendation, but it explains in plain English how most elements and attributes can be used.

Thanks for writing this book, Ian. Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS should immediately be made required reading for every single course on web design or web development across the world.

As with all SitePoint books, there are sample chapters you can download to find out if the book is right for you.

Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS
Author: Ian Lloyd
ISBN: 0975240293

Posted on July 15, 2006 in Reviews


  1. Okay, that absolutely seals it. Yesterday at the London WSG meetup I was asking various people what book my girlfriend should read since she’s wanting to start learning about web development. The consensus was that this book was the one to go for. With yet another vote for it here, this is the one I’ll be buying her.

  2. Thanks for the review! I’m always wondering the best thing to suggest to people who are either stuck in their tabling ways or just starting HTML/CSS :)

  3. Thank you very much for this review Roger - you’ve provided a perfect quote for my reviews page on the book site. The cheque’s in the post ;-)

  4. And it’s about time! Good job, Ian.

  5. Any suggestions on other books for more advanced web site design and specifically tableless CSS designs. It is really cool to see the Web growing beyond plain html.

  6. July 19, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Ian: Thanks again for writing such a great beginners’ book! Looking forward to the cheque ;-p!

    jason: I have several other book reviews coming up in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can browse my older book reviews.

  7. This looks like an interesting book and may be what I am looking for.

    I am writing pages using valid XHTML and CSS, and trying to make them as accessable as possible, (Thanks for the series a while back on that Roger), however, my actual(X)HTML knowledge is starting to get a bit out of date. For example I have no idea where to use the lang= attribute but know that I should be using it especially as I often write documents with using several words in foriegn languages.

    I know that I can get all of the information I need from the W3C but it is so fractured over there. If I want to know what I should be doing with XHTML I have to read 3 or 4 of their documents - not an easy feat.

    That said, is this the book to help me get my semantics in order and up to date, and to make sure I’m using everything as I should or is there something more appropriate out there?

  8. Joe, some people like to have things in a nice and neat hard copy format. especially I think when they are starting out. It’s a good reference tool when you’re not sure where to look on the net. In addition, while there’s a lot of great stuff on the net, there’s a lot of crump, so a recommended text is at least something you know you can trust.

  9. July 25, 2006 by Bethany

    Thanks for the recommendation! I never know where to start when I talk to people about web standards. I’ll have to point them in the direction of this book.

  10. Sounds interesting. I’m wondering if it contains something about SEO optimization. I mean its one of the most important parts in site building.

  11. I have the following questions:

    • does it contain any explanation on PHP or Ruby on Rails? At least some simple (I hope they are simple indeed) things… I think one would need it to create a contact form or simple guest book.

    • that would be interesting to read in plain English about the advantages of using CSS and other “right” things in comparison with layout tables, etc. Does the book give a simple explanation? I think it important not to follow the standards blindly but to understand why you are doing that.

    • also, I wonder if the book includes some helpful tips on the graphic design.

    Thanks a bunch!

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