Creating a Website: The Missing Manual, 3rd Edition #bookreview

Creating a Website: The Missing Manual, 3rd Edition
By Matthew MacDonald

(O’Reilly, $29.99, paperback – Kindle edition, $9.99)

 “If you don’t have a web presence, get one–quick!”

How often have you heard or received that stern advice? The implication, of course, is that you are the compleat 21st-century loser and nobody if you don’t have your own website or at least a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account — something digital somewhere that others across the planet can access via the Internet.

In truth, some of us do need websites, and some of us don’t. Some of us want websites, and some of us don’t.

If you need, want or currently have a website or multi-site web presence, consider having Matthew MacDonald’s Creating a Website on your bookshelf, very close to your computer, particularly if you intend to build websites and/or maintain them yourself.

 “This book won’t teach you to become a professional web designer. However, it will help you learn the critically important art of Not Making Bad Websites,” MacDonald writes.

Yes, his well-written book does start—briefly—with the sub-basics, including an introduction to the Internet and browsers. After all, not everyone is born with innate knowledge of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Google Analytics.

But this hefty and well-organized, 563-page how-to guide moves quickly into the process of creating and posting a basic web page. Then it delves deeper into the process of designing efficient websites that are well-organized and relatively easy to maintain.

Very importantly, it also introduces readers to ways to promote a website and make money with it, using Google Adsense, Amazon Associates links and PayPal merchant tools.

Creating a Website will not teach you how to become a hotshot Java programmer. It does give a basic overview of JavaScript, a “simplified” programming language that can help you add interactive features to your website. The author includes “enough background so you can find great JavaScript code online, understand it well enough to make basic changes, and then paste it into your pages to get the results that you want.”

HTML5 is still under development and doesn’t work with all browsers. But this third edition of MacDonald’s book, part of O’Reilly’s popular “The Missing Manual” series, gives a quick introduction to HTML5 and its semantic elements (some of which are still embroiled in controversy).

The book provides a handy HTML reference guide, and the chapters of Creating a Website are supported with a good index.

The chapter lineup is as follows:

– Chapter 1: Preparing for the Web
– Chapter 2: Creating Your First Page
– Chapter 3: Putting Your Page on the Web
– Chapter 4: Power Tools
– Chapter 5: Text Elements
– Chapter 6: Style Sheets
– Chapter 7: Adding Graphics
– Chapter 8: Linking Pages
– Chapter 9: Page Layout
– Chapter 10: Multipart Pages
– Chapter 11: Introducing Your Site to the World
– Chapter 12: Web Promotion
– Chapter 13: Blogs
– Chapter 14: Making Money with Your Site
– Chapter 15: JavaScript: Adding Interactivity
– Chapter 16: Fancy Buttons and Menus
– Chapter 17: Audio and Video
– Appendix A: HTML Quick Reference
– Appendix B: Useful Websites – Index.

I have some do-it-myself websites that are long overdue for complete reworks and better designs.

With Matthew MacDonald’s Creating a Website to guide me, I feel confident that I can handle the tasks and at least create and maintain sites that are, in his words, “Not Bad.”

 — Si Dunn


  • Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, photojournalist, and book reviewer. His published books include: DARK SIGNALS, a Vietnam War memoir; ERWIN'S LAW, a private-detective novel; and JUMP, a novella about a combat veteran suffering from PTSD and alienation while trying to work for newspapers as a journalist. Several of his feature screenplays recently were under option to movie producers. He spent nearly 15 years working as a technical writer and software tester in the telecommunications industry. His current programming interests include Go, JavaScript, Python, R, Angular, and other languages and frameworks. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of the University of North Texas.

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