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  1. I kind of become inspired over the weekend to actually read some web design books all thanks to the series of books by the publisher A Book Apart. Right now I am on book three of the series 'The Elements of Content Strategy", but I thought I catch myself up on reviews. I previously reviewed the first book "HTML5 for Web Designers", which you can read here and so I will be reviewing book #2, called "CSS3 For Web Designers" written by Dan Cederholm. Before I begin my review I would to point out this book is completed outdated in the sense that this was written in 2010 and since then CSS3 has updated a lot in the three years that this book came out. However, being a perfectionist in some weird way I still read the book knowing that fact. Like the first book, "CSS3 For Web Designers" is a light read at 120 pages and the point of this book was to let people know, back then, that many of the browsers such as Firefox 3, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer 9 could have some of the CSS3 built already into their perspective browser engines. Such as the ability to use transitions, animations, hover effects, border radius, text shadow, multiple backgrounds (parallax), and even RGBA. So, Cederholm packs in a lot information and examples to show you how powerful CSS3 would and has become since it was first introduced. As for the reading itself, its light and fun and doesn't really get to technical with some of the CSS3 concepts of which I know everyone will enjoy. On top of that, the author takes the time to explain everything and I will say this, I had a better understanding of the code what I could do instead of visiting a few hundred websites or using generators. Granted, I still will use them to get through the quick stuff, though I wish they had a parallax generator I could work with. Might have to do some searching later about that. But most enjoyable about this book is that he provides sample website he used to apply the CSS3 features and of course provided a couple of pages worth of useful links and resources to help get your hands dirty with CSS3 and attempt to stay current with the code. As for who this book is for, hard to say really just because most of the information is old and outdated. Though if your a perfectionist like I am when it comes to numbered books you may want to collect it in order to have all the books. Is the book critical reading? No but if your looking to take a break coding websites or whatever and need a light read, this books will help relax your brain a bit and who knows give you that aha moment.
  2. Before I begin, I am a huge Sitepoint fan, love their books as I have developed a great collection of their books. More importantly they are great read that provide the right balance of technicality and easy reason. Wish I did work for them because they are that good. Now that my fanboyism is out of the way about the publisher, let’s talk about “Photoshop CS6 Unlocked” 101 Tips, Tricks, and Techniques” by Corrie Haffley. First thing I want to point out this this is the second edition of this book as this Adobe Photoshop book deals with getting the most out of Photoshop CS6. Even better, I own one of the Adobe CS6 suites and so this book has scored more points! Of course, I will point out and for those that do not know me; I am a pretty crappy graphic designer. I can handle my own in the sense I can attempt to make things look pretty and have an eye for what looks good and what doesn’t, but other than that, I am last person to hire or use for a million dollar project. However, with this book it provides me a guide to help learn basic techniques and spruce them up a bit and like every great designer you need to master the basics to become a better artist. Naturally, 101 tips, tricks, and techniques is not enough to get the most out of Photoshop because we all know this software is hundreds of features with thousands of different possibilities. As for who can use this book, I have to everyone, not because I am huge Sitepoint fan or Photoshop person but these 101 tips, tricks, and techniques attack all three levels of skill and patience because it uses tools like the Convert Point tool, feathering, masking etc. and I know that people spend months making complex designs in Photoshop. However, if you are looking to spruce up your photos or website, Photoshop does it as well. More importantly, it is a much bigger book in terms of size as it gave the author plenty of room to show clearly how the tips work and walking you through them. Or if you’re a Sitepoint junkie like me, I would pick it up, granted the book has purpose for me since I do have the software. On top of that you learn a lot and it refreshes your skills if you have been out of the graphic design game for a bit or don’t want to hire an expensive graphic designer.
  3. In keeping up with reviewing Wordpress books, I have another book that I would like to talk about and it is called “Web Designer’s Guide to Wordpress” by Jesse Friedman and if you read my Wordpress: Missing Manual Review I am a person who has gone beyond the basics of Wordpress and want to design Wordpress templates. That is where this book comes in as this picks up where The Missing Manual book left off and gets your hands dirty right away. One thing I like about this book is that it sections off the Wordpress template quite nicely and it should because Wordpress is a bit complex and each section of Wordpress like the Header, Sidebar, Footer, Pages, and navigation each have a specific focus with very specific needs. In short you have to understand how they function independently first and then once you do that you can begin learning how they function together. Sure, you can skip all that and plug the code in and get a fancy website up and running. However, with HTMl5 being the new king of web design, you kind of have to take a few steps back and relearn everything. Yes, I know, for some they are Gods of coding and pointing and laughing so this guy is a moron, but if you want to design a website the right way and with the least amount of problems I hope you think about my words for a second. Though, I will point out that you can still use XHTML as most of the code you will be dealing with will be in PHP. With that in mind, let’s talk about the book. Friedman does, in my opinion, a good job breaking down everything and more importantly giving the reader ample time to learn about them. It is not a tell-all book or a Bible not at 271 pages but it gives you enough information to work with and get a Wordpress template up and running in no time. Interesting note about this book is he provides a chapter on working with Responsive Design. He doesn’t go too deep about the topic but from reading this particular chapter is that you need to take a cautionary approach with designing a Responsive Wordpress template because of Wordpress interprets HTML. I would think most Wordpress designers would agree that more time is needed when putting a Responsive layout together just because it doesn’t take much to break a website that is controlled mostly by PHP. Overall, this is a good starting book to start designing Wordpress themes and obviously there are quite a few books out that cover this topic. Nonetheless, this book is small enough to prevent you from scratching your head or making things more complicated than they need be. It’s a good easy ready but if you’re looking for more technical stuff Wrox’s Wordpress books will provide that.
  4. I have been working in the Wordpress environment for a few years now and I would say that I pretty good at using this CMS at setting quality websites. Granted, I wish I would have the patience to create and code templates but I would be wasting more time figuring out what I would want my website to have and not have. That being said, when I got my copy of Wordpress: The Missing Manual, I have been a fan of the series as the books are well detailed and really help get a beginner going on a specific topic. That is the case with this book as it covers everything you need to know about running your website or blog on the Wordpress platform. I don’t consider myself an expert in any way, but a majority of the book is kind of useless to me, web designers, and bloggers who use Wordpress. I am sure there could be tidbits of information that I may not be aware about but at the same time, I can keep myself more up-to-date on the Wordpress website or various blogs that talk about Wordpress. As for those who are experienced with Wordpress or want to get more out of it than what they have now, then sections three for five would be more practical sections of book to read, especially if you are looking to design your own Wordpress template. I will caution you though that this particular section only gets your feet wet, you would have to rely on the Wordpress repository to get the most out of building your own Wordpress template. Especially since the repository constantly gets updated with patches and security fixes or even recommendations from Wordpress experts themselves. With that being said, this book is only practical for people starting out or people looking to blog and write. If you’re a web designer and or use Wordpress as a CMS to build websites for your clients you are better off looking for other books about Wordpress.
  5. In volume two of the Smashing book series, we are introduce to ten more chapters from the boys and girls of the Smashing Magazine Network. Here the web designers tool set is greatly expanded in which topics of graphic design, mobile design, wireframing, psychology, and even e-commerce are discussed. At a comfortable 335 pages this book will show you how difficult a web designers life really is due to the fact that there are a lot areas a web designer needs to cover from the first meeting to the client to going live. Like volume #1, Smashing Book #2 condenses a lot of information you would find on their website and the various they have published as well. This is due to the fact that each chapter presented in this book can be a book in itself and once again they provide a great starting point for their readers and of course provide fresh prespective on what to think about when it comes to designing website. This book is only a year old, so the information presented is not totally outdate and so you can breath a sigh of relief because of it. Obviously, the point of the book is get you thinking and go out and research mroe about the topics and thus really build up your experience on the various ideas and concepts that are presented in here. Of course, one thing I do like about this book, is that the information is easy to read and understand and can be reference back to. Of course, once you log into their website, the information they bring daily will quickly dwarf the book by hundreds of pages. As they continually talk about those topics and thus if they were to add that information into the book, it could easily triple in size. Another great aspect of this book I like is the artwork for each chapter as they really pop with the use of vivd colors and great design. On top of that, at the beginning of the book you find almost 3000 names of people who have bought this book and those pages are all designed in a large S. I would defintely pick up this book to add to your collection of great web design information, especially if you have Smashing Book #1 and I will point out that Smashing Book #3 is coming out soon so you should defintely add that to your collection when it comes out later this year.
  6. When it comes to putting books together into a collective works, you will find a lot of them out there, from comics to art to images to even fonts. Usually this is done after months or years of them being put out at an individual level and so when these collection books are put together, all that information is condensed into a few volumns. Now take that collectors concept and https://www.smashingmagazine.com/ and you have one of three volumns of the best content from their website in book form. This book is co-authored by 13 individuals at various levels of experience in the web design world and at 315 pages broken down into ten chapters, Smashing Book #1 consists of a lot of information for one to take in. Like in most first volumn books, I think, This book covers covers a lot of introductory/beginner topics such as CSS layouts, typography, usability, color, optimization to name a few. Like I said, this is a condense volumn of hundreds of articles posted on their website, but on top of that each chapter by itself can be considered a book due to the fact there are litterally hundreds of books out there that cover every angle you can think of about color, typography, usuability and so on. However, the one thing I will point out is that most of the information is outdated by three years, but with a lot of the concepts presented in this book I doubt much has changed. Therefor, the book is worth getting to help give you a start on the hundreds of ideas and concepts that are presented in this book and obviously push you to find out more and see what current information is out there about what you have read. Another thing I like about this book is the writing from these various authors, its simplsitic in nature but they go into a lot of detail in explaining everything. Obviously if go to their website, most of the information you find in this book you will find there. However, I don't think you want to stare at the screen for hours on end, but I know most do. Because it is a great collection of information about the web and obviously the more you know the better you get at becoming a great web designer. Of course, I would recommend getting volume two of this book as it introduces you to even more topics, and if you have both of them, then go ahead and order volumn #3 as well since it will be the most updated book out of the three.
  7. In the seven years since I have been back in the web design gig, one name has become synonymous to web design and web programming books and that is Larry Ullman. He is mostly known for his Visual Quick Pro books such as PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual Quick Pro Guide (4th Edition), MySQL, C++, PHP and so on. Therefore, it does not surprise me when I won his newest book Modern JavaScript: Develop and Design at the Adobe User Group. That it would be loaded with a lot of information that you need to know in order to program in JavaScript. At 15 chapters and a whopping 595 pages, expect to take your time with this book because you will be learning JavaScript from scratch and I mean that literally. As you start from the basics of JavaScript to creating little JavaScript programs. While this book is technical in nature, the one thing I notice right away about this book, is that it doesn't feel like that. He breaks everything down and provides great visuals and color in this book. Usually, I never talk about that in my book reviews. You could say it provides the minimalist design and hits that big pop once you start looking at the book and reading along. While a lot of the information is known, he really sticks to word modern as he talks about the Big 5 web browsers, JavaScript Frameworks, tools that he uses and or recommends and so on. As I said earlier, with his many years writing Visual Quick Pro books, it definitely prepped him in preparing this book as it provides that same kind of flow. At $54.99 (Amazon $34.64), that price is well worth picking up this book, granted I am not calling it the JavaScript Bible, but once you get into it, you think it was. Thus, the reason I cannot really pick a chapter out of this book because this caters to everyone who ready to get out of HTML and into a web programming like JavaScript. So to Larry Ullman, I better see a PHP/MySQL book of the same caliber or tackle a challenging language like JSON or Ruby to make it interesting.
  8. In this review, I will be talking about a book, though almost a couple of years old, provides a interesting insight or rather how far HTML5 has come since this book came out. Titled "HTML5 For Web Designers" was written by Jeremy Keith in which he talks about HTML5 and what is about to come and or available and while most of what is in this book is old news by now. This book gives a small idea on how complicated HTML5 has become and I will say this good luck if this is your first language. The interesting part about this book is that it only comes in at roughly 90 pages and yet completely opens your eyes, heck it did for me when Keith talk about the <header> and <footer> tags because they no longer represent their original intentions. Meaning that when it comes to those two tags, they no longer belong at the top and bottom of the website, but rather they can represent the top and bottom of the content of itself. Best way to describe their new usage is by looking at a blog article in which the <header> tag now represents the name of the article, the generated link to the article, who wrote it, and of course when it was published. As for the <footer> tag, the copyright information still applies but you can expand it by including your sources, other links maybe some info on the author themselves. While you could produce the same results with div tags, the problem is though you can only use those two tags once, however, the <header> and <footer> tags can be used a 1000 times and your website will still come out producing valid code. Thus the power of HTML5, of course Keith talks about other topics, such as new ways to deal with audio and video, the <div> killer article and section tags, and even how HTML5 is slowly replacing flash and JavaScript, Granted the drawback to this book is its shortness, but this book is more of a fun read then technical, but I wouldn't have minded if he covered more in each chapter, but alas that is what those other books are for. However, if you check out the abooksapart.com website, this is just one of a series of books that are talking about the latest generation of design, development and concepts of web design, so go check them out after reading this book.
  9. In this review, I will be talking about second edition of Jason Beaird's book titled "The Principles of Beautiful Web Design 2ed". it is just one of many free books I have picked up from this great website and I would like to share it with you. In this book Beaird talks about all the various aspects of designing a beautiful website, from layout to color to typography to the usage of images and more. While this is pretty small for what it covers (Five Chapters at 196 pages). He still provides a great source of information, especially with current trends such as Grids, Fluid/Fixed/Responsive layouts, CSS3 and some HTML5 as well. In his first chapter titled "Layout and Composition", he spends his time in this chapter discussing the layout process a designer takes, such as what what the website is about, which questions to ask, should it be symmetrical or asymmetrical, inspiration and more. Definitely worth reading for you UX designers out there because how important this aspect of building a website is important to the boys and girls of UX. Another favorite part of the book lies in chapter two "Color" in which, Jason Beaird talks about the psychology of color, and spends the first seven pages talking about the meaning of primary colors such as red, blue, black, white, yellow, and even purple. Then of course, a topic I have been pondering about for awhile of course is topography and the fact I spend timing looking at fonts more closely, especially since CSS3 including the @font-face into its structure. Even though this is good book, the one fatal flaw its a bit short, especially in the topics that Beaird covers and so this book is gear more towards those getting into design and not those or are well aged in these areas. Of course, if you bought the first edition of the book most of the information is the same, but I find this version to be more polished and the book more reader friendly then its predecessor irregardless of the information that is in the two books. Of course, if your a huge fan of Sitepoint, then its a must have for your collection and I know I have.
  10. In this review, I will be talking about a book that is specific to graphic designers, called Logo Design Love. Author David Airey book specifically targets one aspect of graphic design and that is logos, and the goal of this book is not to talk about iconic logos or what ones are bad or good, but rather the design process. It isn't so much a step-by-step guide, but more of the process one takes either from inspiration from what he or she sees to fulfilling client requests. in the first part of book he talks about the point of logos and brands, the story they are telling and what makes a great logo. In the second part of the book is where you get your hands dirty, but the interesting part is the work a person has to do before they even begin the concept of design and I reflect back to the five W's; Who, What, Where, When, and Why. However he takes it a step further by talking about How and the need especially when it comes to redesigning an old logo from a well established company to a logo for an emerging company. Then, when a person feels they have everything they need to get an idea what the Logo should say, then they begin the design process itself; from concept drawings to color theory, to graphic design software. As for part three of this book, he provides useful information and tips to become more proficient and focus in Logo design and while this book is working on two years, the information that it provides would be invaluable to graphic designers and area for some to focus on to strengthen their skills.
  11. If you a designer or developer of the web regardless of experience and skill, odds are quite a few might be missing a key asset into their development process. Sure the pros know what to do and the beginners have an idea. However, what if I told you that there is more too it then sketching out your prototype and providing great content. "Oh come now SM I know everything I need to know to produce great websites, what could I possibly be missing?" A whole lot then you might think, and so this is were the following book will help you get started or fill in the crack and make you a stronger developer in not only design but the User Experience. Undercover User Experience Design by Cennydd Bowles and James Box, experts in the UX field, have written a great starters guide to a good portion of the UX aspect of websites, web applications, and mobile applications. Rather then being a step-by-step guide on what to do, they explore all the concepts and ideas one has to think about when building something for the internet or for the office. they talk about the design process, who you most likely deal with during the process, various tools to get you going, statistical and analysis information to think about and more. While this is a small book at 183 pages, but the odds are that after reading this book you will be surprised there is a lot more to it then the coding process. Consider it a starters guide because everything they have to talk about there are hundreds of more books out there on specific topics or more in-depth guides on how to become a more efficient developer and designer. As for my favorite section, it would have to be "Chapter 6: Working With..." Because this chapter gives a brief but interesting perspective of the type of people you would be or are working with when developing websites, software and applications. What I like best about the chapter is the fact that everyone of those people who can be categorized in those groups has a different way of thinking and doing things and so the best experience you will be getting if you are able to take a bit of everything from them. That way, as you transition from each part of the process you will be prepared and being able to change your mindset when dealing with Developers, Visual Designers, SEO, Marketing people, to name a few. Of course, this book offers some useful tips and other books to read when you complete, so it is definitely a book worth having as it provides your available information to make you and your crew better designers/developers.
  12. The next book I like to talk about is called Joomla 24-Hour Trainer written by Jen Kramer, who is also the author to Joomla Start to Finish and just like her first book this one also provide a how to guide to getting started with Joomla from downloading, to installing to maintaining a Joomla based website. However, there is an added bonus it comes with a DVD with videos tutorials that go along with the step-by-step process this trainer book goes through. Another thing I like to point out that this book also covers Joomla 1.5 and like I mention in my previous review, and also mention in this book, Joomla 1.5 is still the more popular version out there as Joomla websites are slowly converting to 1.7. So what is different about this book then her first one? Well, for one its double the chapters at 33, while her first book is capped at 15. Which means this book goes into a lot more detail and covers a lot more then in her first book. So what should a Joomla user to do? Well, my thoughts are this, while both books cover the same material and the trainer being the more updated version, I would recommend getting both books just because the compliment each other and well not everyone is keen on videos. Still, this book is still a great starting point just because it goes through the process step by step and by the end of the book you will have designed the website that is built around this book. That of course, is the other reason why you would want to get the first book as your are building your own website while in this book your building a website that you won't use. Now I am not saying there is nothing wrong with that just because a lot of books do this kind of stuff, but for some strange reason I am not keen on that kind of learning. Regardless of my thoughts though, this book is still filled with useful information and it will help you prepare for your Joomla needs and odds are when I start working into Joomla websites more often, they will provide a way to make life easier as well as yours when you build in Joomla.
  13. The next book I will be reviewing is one of two this author has written, and here is the kicker I actually know this author as she was the former head of the Master's program I am in and a former teacher at the school, was a co-leader in the Adobe and Joomla User groups as well, runs a descent size Joomla designing business among many other things as well. Now on to the book. Joomla Start to Finish - How to Plan, Execute, and Maintain Your Website is your beginners guide to running your very own Joomla website. To start, what is Joomla? Joomla is a CMS or Content Management System and to date is one of the most popular CMS's out there. So what does book have to offer? Well to make your life easier it starts off with how to install and configure Joomla on to you web host, descriptions of the various Joomla modules, adding content, Joomla templates, maintenance, tips and tricks, and more. While this isn't the Joomla Bible, it is still a invaluable source of information and while this book is already outdated as of Joomla 1.7.3, Joomla 1.5 is still pretty common enough in terms of Joomla templates, extensions, and modules. So, you could use this book to get you going and once you feel comfortable enough with understanding how Joomla works, you can go to the next step of upgrading from 1.5 to 1.7.3 and begin to work out all the new features 1.7 has to offer and believe me there are plenty. Like I said, this book is a great place to start, but when your ready to move on, there are plenty of books that get more advanced with Joomla.
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