Book Review: How to Design Websites by Alan Pipes

Alan Pipes’ new book, How to Design Websites, aims to help designers understand the fundamental elements, tools and principles required to design and build basic websites. He’s done a good job of condensing a ton of information into a relatively digestible format, but this book isn’t for everyone

The Verdict

How to Design Websites by Alan Pipes: ★★★

Our Ratings System:
★★★★★ Run, don’t walk, to buy it
★★★★ Order it on Amazon
★★★ “Borrow” it from a friend
★★ Skim it at the bookstore
Don’t bother

How to Design Websites does an extraordinary job at explaining fundamental concepts of the web. For example, the section on color clearly explains the various file formats used online and the hex-based color system. I also appreciate the designer-friendly introductions to the topics of CSS, HTML and JavaScript.

Interspersed throughout the book are code samples—for example, Pipes provides great primers on the basic code to create multiple-column layouts using HTML and CSS. They won’t help you build a complex site, but they will get you started down the right path.

Another prominent element of this book are the four “trailblazer” sections that feature individuals who stand out in the industry. I seldom get much out of these sorts of profiles, but that’s a personal preference.

While I appreciate the detailed explanations of concepts such as file formats and the hex coloring system, the author also takes the time to talk about color principles. His explanations are sound and accurate, but I find their inclusion unusual. I assumed this book was targeted at graphic designers needing help with the technical aspects of the web. But if you’re new to the web and new to design, this book is spot on.