Your Guide to Building a Web Site

By Lee Underwood | Posted August 18, 2005

Do you need to quickly get up to speed when building Web sites? Were you recently elected to create a small Web site for your company? Perhaps you work in a small office and just want a presence on the World Wide Web. Whatever your reasons this book offers a simple way to learn HTML and CSS.

A new book by Molly Holzschlag provides simple, thorough instructions and insightful techniques for building Web pages from the ground up. It's called Spring into HTML and CSS

A well-known author, Molly has written over 20 books, is an advisory board member to the World Organization of Webmasters and is a member of the Web Standards Project. She even teaches what she preaches at universities and colleges around the area where she lives.

The book is written for "non-technical professionals," meaning those people who are professionals in non-Web or computer related fields, such as doctors or lawyers. The information is presented in an easy-to-understand manner but is not condescending.

The book contains 13 chapters. These are divided into two sections, HTML and CSS. Each chapter covers a wealth of information with each topic covering one or two pages. That's the whole style of the "Spring into ..." series by Addison-Wesley. The idea is to present information that can be used immediately without having to read another three chapters to understand the concept. As you can see from the chapter listing below, everything is taken in simple, logical steps. Whatever information you need, you can jump right to it ("spring into") and obtain the information you need for your particular situation.

  1. Building an HTML Page
  2. Adding Text and Links
  3. Adding Images, Media, and Scripts
  4. Creating Tables
  5. Building Forms
  6. Working with Frames
  7. Using CSS
  8. Working with Color and Images Using CSS
  9. Styling Text
  10. Link Effects, Lists, and Navigation
  11. Margins, Borders, and Padding
  12. Positioning, Floats, and Z-Index
  13. CSS Layouts

Many people are stopped cold when they begin creating an HTML document. The reason? Non-text items used for tasks such as telling the browser how to display the page. In many HTML manuals that information can go on for several pages -- most of it covering concepts that someone just trying to create a small Web site doesn't need to know. (Remember, this book is written for the "non-technical professional.")

Each chapter is sub-divided into manageable sections. An example is the first chapter "Building an HTML Page." The sub-topics include "Declaring and Identifying the Document, Adding the html Element, The head and title Elements, The meta Element," and "The body Element." These important topics are each covered within one-to-two pages without sacrificing important information.

The book also includes two excellent annotated references covering XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1. These should help the reader gain additional knowledge in specific areas and also serve as a reference source.

The issue of standards continually comes up in Web design-related discussions. Most of the current "standards" (actually "recommendations") are issued by the World Wide Web Consortium. The use of standards by Web designers requires a level of understanding, which most people don't have. This is not uncommon. If you don't design cars for a living, you're probably not aware of the standards used in the automobile industry. That doesn't mean you can't build your own car, with a little help. It's a similar thing with Web sites.

The material that Molly presents here is in line with the current "standards." With that in mind, it's really not necessary for someone who is going to create a small Web site to have a complete understanding of the concepts and standards of the Web. Using this book, they will comply with the current "standards" without even trying.

If you're a "non-technical professional" interested in creating a small Web site for your business or personal use, this book may be all you need to do the job.

Adapted from webreference.com.

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