A rarity amongst technical books in that Stevens doesn't try to paint HTML5 as a magic cure-all, but rather a specification with its share of half-bak...moreA rarity amongst technical books in that Stevens doesn't try to paint HTML5 as a magic cure-all, but rather a specification with its share of half-baked ideas.
Steven's particular bugbear is HTML5's new sectioning elements, which he argues serve no purpose for users, screen readers, or search engines. After reading The Truth About HTML5 you'll swear off using or ever again. Before you do however, I'd recommend seeking some balance by reading Heydon Pickering's article The Importance of HTML5 Sectioning Elements (http://coding.smashingmagazine.com/20...) which specifically addresses some of Steven's concerns.
The second half of the book is far less controversial, and is essentially a tour of HTML5's highlights - audio, video, canvas, etc. - with links to a a lot of examples. (less)
If you've spent a decent length of time working with clients in your web design practice you will have encountered the difficulties and conflicts that...moreIf you've spent a decent length of time working with clients in your web design practice you will have encountered the difficulties and conflicts that can arise in the designer/ client relationship. Often clients are seen by designers as a necessary evil, and a roadblock to good design. Paul Boag takes a different view: that clients are intrinsic to the design process, and that listening to their input and understanding their business needs leads to better results for everyone.
At its core, Paul's message is one of diplomacy. His strategies show how conflicts can be avoided by involving clients in the web design process, making their business goals a priority, and being willing to give and receive feedback constructively.
This book would be of most use to someone who doesn't have a lot of experience working directly with clients, but there are still plenty of nuggets for more experienced web professionals. I found Paul's tips for building trust and earning a client's respect especially interesting - once your client views you as an expert and trusts your input, half the battle is already won.(less)
If you're a freelance web dev (or any type of freelancer, I suppose) and feel you're not earning as much as you should be, this ebook will give you th...moreIf you're a freelance web dev (or any type of freelancer, I suppose) and feel you're not earning as much as you should be, this ebook will give you the confidence you need to bump up your rates. The author suggests some good strategies for marketing your freelance business, communicating with clients, and scoping projects, so that your clients come to view you as a valuable business consultant rather than a "web guy".
The book is very brief (I read it during my commute) and about half its volume is comprised of worksheets and case studies - interviews with freelancers who've successfully raised their rates. The book doesn't suffer for its brevity, but I think there is scope for Dunn to expand the book into a more complete business guide for freelancers.
One complaint: the book is only available in PDF format, which seems short sighted in this day and age, since PDF is poorly suited for eInk devices such as Kindle. I had to spend an hour of my time converting the book to mobi format, and tweaking the formatting to make it readable.(less)
Robert Hoekman, Jr is a user experience designer and consultant who is best known for his books about interface design, Designing the Obvious and Desi...moreRobert Hoekman, Jr is a user experience designer and consultant who is best known for his books about interface design, Designing the Obvious and Designing the Moment. His self-published book Big Deal: On Being Famous to Almost No One tackles a far more personal subject. In Big Deal Hoekman, Jr recounts his rise to the top of the web design field, and describes how his craving for professional notoriety eventually devastated his personal friendships, marriage, and sense of self worth.
The form of celebrity Hoekman Jr discusses in Big Deal has been dubbed “micro-fame”:
“My name is Robert Hoekman, Jr, and in certain rooms, under certain circumstances, at certain moments, surrounded by certain people, and when all these very certain things come together, I am a big fucking deal.”
In other words, Hoekman, Jr might be unknown to the general public, but within the web design industry he is a bona fide rock star.
From the unique perspective that this notoriety affords, he takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the conference rooms, hotel bars, book signings, photo opportunities and corporate retreats that consumed his attention as he rose the ranks of his profession. Along the way we rub shoulders with a veritable who’s who of the web industry: Matt Mullenweg, Jeff Veen, Jeffrey Zeldman, Caterina Fake, Luke Wroblewski, to name but a few.
Ultimately Hoekman, Jr’s craving for recognition and approval forces a crisis in his professional and personal life, and he has to face up to the root causes of his obsession with fame, and deal with the fallout.
This makes for fascinating reading, especially for a web design nerd such as myself, but I was left with the nagging feeling that Hoekman, Jr has – perhaps unwittingly – used his book about the pitfalls of fame as a platform to reinforce his cool kid credentials.
The nonstop cataloging of his professional achievements came across at times like bragging, and I wish he had dialed the self promotion back a notch. Even in the book’s later chapters, where he describes a dawning awareness that his obsession with fame is destroying his marriage, the laundry list of book signings and speaking engagements barely slows down. It is as if he wants to remind the reader that even though he no longer cares about being famous, he still is famous.
It is said that that pride comes before a fall, and in Big Deal Hoekman, Jr talks candidly about the flipside of his micro-fame: spiraling self doubt, professional rejection by Apple and Yahoo, isolation from friends, and the collapse of his marriage. It takes guts for a writer to expose their weaknesses so openly, but it feels a little like sitting in on someone else’s therapy session (in a psychotherapy cliché he lays much of the blame for his low self esteem at the feet of his mother). I imagine the process of writing Big Deal was extremely cathartic, but I question whether the experience of reading the book is equally enlightening.
The problem is that Big Deal is all about Hoekman, Jr, and frankly I’m not sure that his personal experiences provide enough material to do the book’s topic justice. If more of Big Deal had been devoted to examining the impact of micro-fame in a broader context – the cult of celebrity engendered by social networking services like Twitter, say – the book might be better rounded, and have a broader appeal.
Despite the reservations I have outlined above, I still found Big Deal very enjoyable. There is no doubt that Hoekman, Jr is a talented writer, and has penned a book that can accurately be described as a page turner. I finished the book in one day, and certainly wasn’t left unsatisfied. Hoekman, Jr paints a very human picture of his life as a web industry A-Lister, and in a field where technical manuals are the norm Big Deal is quite unlike any other web design book I have read.
Andy Rutledge’s Design Professionalism is a plea for designers to take their professional practice more seriously, both for their own benefit and the...moreAndy Rutledge’s Design Professionalism is a plea for designers to take their professional practice more seriously, both for their own benefit and the benefit of their clients and peers.
The book is packed with indispensable business advise for aspiring and practicing graphic and web designers, but its tone is at times arrogant and divisive, which will alienate some readers.
Within the first few paragraphs Rutledge dismisses existing definitions of professionalism as “filled in every case with irrelevancies, contradictions, non sequiturs, errors, or all of these” and “lacking in logic, integrity, and morality”. AIGA’s Standards for Professional Practice is similarly criticised for being an “irrational document that is filled with indefinable terms, vacuous and unenforceable standards, contradictions, and immoral ideals.” (You can read a point-by-point critique of AIGA's standards in Design Professionalism’s appendix.)
A section on moral absolutism is similarly divisive:
“As one means of classification, everyone on earth falls into one of two categories: those who hold with moral absolutes and those who do not. […] What’s more, since professionals trade sovereign value for sovereign value, a so-called professional lacking a capitalist morality is a hypocrite. In any event, only those in the former group—those with integrity—can be professionals. The latter group cannot be trusted in a professional capacity…or any other for that matter.”
The book finds its stride in subsequent chapters, where Rutledge tackles more practical concerns. The sections on education, career path, contracts, bidding, project management and speculative work are clearly written and informative, and address many of the professional and ethical quandaries that a designer is likely to face. Rutledge still doesn't pull his punches however, such as when he dismisses most academic web design programs as “without merit”.
To some extent Rutledge’s forceful writing style is well adapted to the topic. A profession requires a code of ethics by which to abide, and this code needs to be uncompromising in order to be effective.
What troubles me is that the standards laid out in Design Professionalism, and formalised in the Code of Professional Conduct, are Rutledge’s personal opinions and not necessarily representative of the industry as a whole. In many countries designers already have professional associations representing their interests – AIGA in the USA, AGDA here in Australia, and so on. Rutledge may hold some of these associations in low regard – he calls them “social organizations” – but at least their professional standards are the result of community consensus. I wonder what sort of community consultation Rutledge undertook when he was preparing his own Code of Professional Conduct? Did he solicit input from other designers, design agencies and industry bodies?
Without the broad consultation required to draft an industry wide set of professional standards, Design Professionalism and the Code are ultimately one person’s opinion about how designers should conduct themselves.
Design Professionalism is a provocative manifesto intended to shake the web design industry out of its complacency. In this regard, I think the book succeeds. It’s just a shame that Rutledge chose to deliver his message in a confrontational “us against them” style that makes his ideas less accessible than they should be.(less)
The fact that these articles are still engaging and relevant ten years after they were first appeared on Joel's blog is a testament to his writing tal...moreThe fact that these articles are still engaging and relevant ten years after they were first appeared on Joel's blog is a testament to his writing talent. Joel's background is in developing Windows software but his razor sharp and humorous observations should appeal to anyone who works in the web or software industries. (less)
If you need a nudge to get started with CSS3, look no further. 'CSS3 For Web Designers' is one of the best technical web design books I have read. It...moreIf you need a nudge to get started with CSS3, look no further. 'CSS3 For Web Designers' is one of the best technical web design books I have read. It is concise enough to read in one sitting, and like Dan's other books is fun to read and filled with practical examples.(less)
This book was a fast and accessible read, but compared to it's sibling publication, 'CSS3 For Web Designers', it lacks the wow factor. For anyone who...moreThis book was a fast and accessible read, but compared to it's sibling publication, 'CSS3 For Web Designers', it lacks the wow factor. For anyone who hasn't been following the rollout of HTML5 this is a good primer, and a starting point for further study.(less)