Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design (Book review)

If you're looking for a Web design book that you can put on your coffee table without feeling like a geek, look no further. In Transcending CSS, Andy Clarke combines technical expertise with graphic design skills to create a book that is as beautiful as it is inspiring.

This book is a bit hardcore with regards to progressive enhancement. The principles of Transcendent CSS include going all the way with CSS 2.1 selectors and the parts of CSS 3 that have been implemented in browsers. Yes, that means using them now instead of waiting for all browsers to catch up. These are the principles of Transcendent CSS:

  • Not all browsers see the same design.
  • Use all available CSS selectors.
  • Use CSS3 where possible to look to the future.
  • Use JavaScript and the DOM to plug the holes in CSS.
  • Avoid using hacks and filters.
  • Use semantic naming conventions and microformats.
  • Share your ideas, and collaborate with others.

These are all great principles to follow when designing or developing for the Web, and the entire book is focused on these principles.

I have a couple of quibbles, as always. First, I do not agree with Andy's statement that element id:s like header and footer are presentational. At least they aren't the way I think when I use them. To me, "header" means "the first thing in the document" and "footer" is–you guessed it– "the last thing in the document". My second quibble is that Andy suggests using absolute positioning to create columns, and to use JavaScript to make sure whatever comes next gets cleared properly. That's fine, but I didn't see any mention of how you would make sure that users with JavaScript off would not get a page that is partly unreadable.

Don't let my nitpicking stop you from buying Transcending CSS though. It is very refreshing to see a book that is mainly aimed at graphic designers focus on content and structure first, and visual design later.

Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design
Author: Andy Clarke
ISBN-10: 0321410971
ISBN-13: 978-0321410979

Posted on April 20, 2007 in Reviews, Web Standards, CSS