Review categories > Website Design Books > Creating Killer Web Sites
By: Charley MorrisReview for 'Creating Killer Web Sites'
Rating: 6 of out 6
Written By: David Siegel
Page Count: 305
Cover Type: Softcover
Published By: Hayden Book Company
Date Published: 10/1997
List Price: $49.99
Author's Site: http://www.webdevelopersjourna...
This is an
excellent book about Web design. The main focus is on
creating attractive, functional pages, although there is
insightful advice on many subjects. Author David Siegel
is the owner of a well-known Web design firm, Verso, and
the author of various other works, including Secrets of
Succesful Web Sites, which takes up where this book left
off, and delves into project management as it relates to
Siegel explains how to create
"third-generation" Web sites. I think we can all imagine
what a "first-generation" site is. Grey background, with
text and graphics presented in a linear way, one after
the other. Lots of horizontal rules and bulleted lists.
David Siegel has no truck with horizontal rules or
bullets, by the way. He points out that the proper use
of white space eliminates the need for such crudities.
A "second-generation" site has the traditional
structure of a home page with links to various sections.
For many sites this remains the best way to present
So what's a "third-generation"
site? It has nothing to do with what technologies are
used to create a site, but with the way the site is
designed. Rather than a simple top-down hierarchy,
Siegel's third-generation site offers various paths
through the site, with an entrance and an exit. An exit
for a Web site? Well, Siegel points out a fact of human
nature: having a defined exit paradoxically makes people
tend to stay longer. And having definite entry and exit
points makes a site feel more like a "complete
experience." The crux of the biscuit is that
third-generation designers spend a lot of time thinking
about the paths that different visitors will take
through the site, and design accordingly.
describes different organizational methods that might be
used for different types of sites. Needless to say, an
"entry tunnel" is not for everyone. He also discusses
the use of metaphor in site design, giving several good
and bad examples. Throughout the book, there are plenty
of pix of existing Web pages, as examples of the
Next it's on to preparing
images. Here is a very well-written, in-depth guide to
the subject, with lots of tips on how to get the best
results on the Web. If you follow his advice to the
letter, you'll find yourself spending lots of time
preparing graphics, as well as getting to know Photoshop
(and other packages) inside-out. By the way, you'll also
find your graphics looking a lot better. Siegel is a
perfectionist when it comes to graphics, and this
chapter alone is almost worth the price of admission.
Laying out pages has always been a Web
designer's biggest headache. At the moment, tables are
about the only tool we have to work with, until the CSS
cavalry arrives. When it comes to page layout, Siegel
belongs to the less-is-more school. Use properly
proportioned white space to divvy up your page, not
pokey-looking horizontal rules and bullets. He also
abhors the practice of using a blank line between
paragraphs, instead of indenting in the traditional way.
There's an in-depth chapter on
rendering type, as you'd expect from a guy who designs
typefaces for a living. Using anything other than Times
or verdana still means creating individual gifs, and
it's a big chore. Siegel has some tips for keeping all
your headlines, subheads and so forth organized.
Having covered graphics, layout and type in the
first section, Siegel proceeds to describe several Web
sites, each illustrating different techniques. He takes
us through a page makeover, bringing a site up two
generations by reorganizing it and spiffing up the
graphics. Next he designs, from the ground up, a
personal site, a storefront for a small retail store,
and a gallery or online photo exhibition. Each site
presents different challenges, but Siegel's solutions
always show his strong emphasis on simple but elegant
More case studies? The way to learn is
by doing, especially in the fast-moving Web scene. The
next chapter presents 15 short descriptions of sites
that earn Siegel's praises.
The next chapter is
a Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) primer. Whenever Netscape
and Microsoft decide to abandon their arms race, and get
back to serving their customers, we'll all have a far
more powerful toolbox: HTML 4.0 with CSS. Until that
glad day, however, we can either keep creating pages the
old way, create 2 (or more) versions of every page, or
try to find some happy medium.
The book winds up
with a thoughtful look at some of the new technologies
that are just coming out, including new graphics
formats, new font tools, and new audio and multimedia
This is an excellent book,
well-written, well-organized and packed with useful
information. As a design book must be (but some ain't),
it is well laid-out, and the pictures look great. This
book is about design, mainly visual design. To get into
the business end of things, check out David Siegel's
other book, Secrets of Succesful Web Sites, an equally
fine book about project management on the Web.