Web Standards Creativity (Book review)

Some people tend to think that using Web Standards will somehow stifle their creativity. That usually changes once those same people have learned about Web Standards and how to use them. For me it's quite the opposite. Having standards to work with lets me spend my brain cycles on solving other problems.

Web Standards Creativity is a book that wants to show you that creativity and Web Standards can go hand in hand. In the book, ten well known web designers (if you've been reading standards and accessibility blogs for a while you will recognise all of them) get together and contribute one chapter each, explaining their creative approach to solving a specific problem while remaining standards compliant and accessible.

There are three main parts to this book, each with a slightly different focus:

  • Layout magic consists of five chapters that contain examples of advanced CSS layout techniques, which include making use of advanced CSS selectors and PNG alpha transparency.
  • Effective print techniques applied to CSS design is made up of two chapters that take some techniques that work well in the print world and adapt them to the Web. Grid design and typographic principles are explained in depth here.
  • DOM scripting gems comprises the final three chapters of the book and explains how DOM scripting can be used to improve your website. The examples include a printing technique that saves paper, resolution dependent layouts, and an accessible sliding navigation menu.

I think it works out rather well, though the writing style and attention to detail varies with the author. That's probably unescapable in a book with ten authors, but it was slightly distracting to me.

Overall the examples keep the promise the book makes in that they are creative, standards compliant and up-to-date, but there is just a little bit too much inaccessible image replacement going on for my taste. Not a huge problem, but I would have liked to see at least one example of image replacement that has a fallback for when images aren't available, or at least a mention of the issue to make the reader aware of it.

A couple of problems I had while reading this book are related to its physical appearance rather than the content itself. Every page is in full colour and printed on paper that is a bit too glossy for me to read comfortably. I had to keep adjusting the angle I was holding the book. And the text is really hard to read on some of the pages because of the colour combinations. Colour contrast is important for readability in print as well as on-screen.

All in all though, I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for techniques that go beyond theory and useful tips that you can use in your projects now.

Web Standards Creativity
Authors: Andy Budd, Andy Clarke, Ian Lloyd, Cameron Adams, Rob Weychert, Ethan Marcotte, Dan Rubin, Jeff Croft, Mark Boulton, Simon Collison, Derek Featherstone
ISBN-10: 1590598032
ISBN-13: 978-1590598030

Posted on September 18, 2007 in Reviews, Web Standards