Review – Taking Your Talent to the Web

Matt Mickiewicz

Taking Your Talent to The Web written by Web Design Legend Jeffrey Zeldman and published by New Riders is a book that covers a broad spectrum of topics. Everything from interface design, to the functions of different Web development team members is covered. Zeldman begins the book by painting a picture of a Web designer, their role, responsibilities, and tools of the trade. In broad strokes, a picture emerges as to exactly what a Web designer is and their role in web development and communication.

The Nitty Gritty

After getting the basics out of the way, and answering questions such as "What is a Web Designer?" the book delves into the different technologies that Web designers use in their day-to-day job.

HTML, Photoshop, Style Sheets, JavaScript, SSI, and Rich Media are all touched upon over five chapters that cover 200 pages. Must-knows such as Web palettes, image optimization and cross-browser compatibility issues are all discussed, though none with sufficient depth to satisfy the day-to-day needs of the typical Web developer.

I commend Zeldman for dwelling into the subjects of Usability and Information Architecture. Too many web design books on the market jump around this topic by taking the artsy view of web design. But in the end, a Website is for the users, and the users must be able to use and navigate the site to accomplish their goal. Kudos to Zeldman for realizing that a Website is more than just a digital painting.

The book is interspersed with plenty code snippets, some of them quite lengthy. Alas, no Website from which the code can be downloaded is mentioned. My sympathies go out to anybody who tries to type out the two pages of JavaScript starting on page 317…

The Writing Style

The writing style used in the book is excellent, with loads of light-hearted humour in each chapter. After the first few chapters, some of the jokes got downright tiresome, simply because there were so many of them. While I don’t blame the author for trying to spice up the book on an otherwise bland topic, there is a certain point at which a book becomes about humour rather than web design.

Another thing that bothered me about the writing is the constant references to "we" and "our". Without any co-author being mentioned on the cover of the book, I’m beginning to wonder whether Zeldman has a split personality disorder. It appears that the author is trying to deflect any criticism of his beliefs and opinions by using "we" and "our" as opposed to "I". If you’re making printed statements in a book stand by them!

Who Should Read it?

That being said, I actually managed to get through the entire book despite the tedious humour. Taking Your Talent To The Web is perfect for print designers and art directors who are considering making the transition to the Web. Zeldman provides a very solid overview of what’s involved, in a clear and entertaining style.

Individuals who wish to turn pro, as well as professionals who want to a refresher course on the entire spectrum of Web development topics, will also benefit from reading the book.

New Riders, known for its quality books, doesn’t let down with the 400+ page book Taking Your Talent To The Web. At $40.00 US or $59.95 CDN, it’s not cheap though.

Rating: 4/5

Click here to Buy This Book on Amazon.com

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