Who's Dan Cederholm?
For most people the name Dan Cederholm will ring a bell, but if it doesn't, here is some background. Dan Cederholm, also known as Simplebits, is a well-known veteran web designer. There's also a very good chance you've read one of his other popular books: Bulletproof Web Design or Web Standards Solutions. Dan's most recent project is called "Dribbble," a community for sharing small (400x300 max) screenshots of your work. Anyway, back to the book now.
It's all about craftmanship
Craftsmanship is the theme that runs through the book. Dan shows us that there is a connection between craftsmanship and web design. This book shows you that attention to small design details can sometimes make a big difference by using this transitional approach. What I truly love about this book is Dan's writing style: down to earth and practical. He explains different scenarios and thinks about the things that should be taken into account when designing websites. While doing this he also keeps flexibility in mind. These are the small details that can turn a good design into a great design.
— Handcrafted CSS
It's okay if a design looks slightly different in one browser than it does in another
A fictional website called Tugboat Coffee Company is used as a case study. The book is focused on aspects to make a website bulletproof while demonstrating progressive enrichment techniques over more traditional labor-intensive methods. Progressive enrichment is Dan's adjustment to "Progressive enhancement" and refers to things we can do to enrich our designs for users who are using the most modern browsers. This means that things may not look the same in every browser, a subject that Dan talks about in Chapter 4. If you're doubting, here is the definite answer to that question.
Some of the subjects covered in this book are:
- building for unanticipated future use
- progressively enriching designs using CSS3 properties
- using RGBA color for transparency with an alpha channel
- modular float management
- crafting flexible frameworks
- fluid layouts using grid-based design principles
- craftsmanship details on typography, jQuery, and shifting backgrounds
Modular float management
There is one chapter that is written by Ethan Marcotte. It's about fluid layouts using grid-based design principles. This particular chapter was the one that I personally learned the most from because as a designer I hardly move away from fixed layout based web designs. However this technique requires that you make a mental click to step into the unknown. You have to release control a bit and that's a daunting thought for a designer sometimes. It's definitely a technique I'll keep in mind for future website designs.
For me, personally, this is a book I would recommend to any web designer who is forward-thinking and proud and passionate about his or her job. You see, I never have problems with starting a book, it's finishing it that is usually a problem for me. Either I lose patience or I just lose interest and skip parts and pages. I think it says a lot if I tell you that I completed this book in one week and I loved every bit of it. While reading it I was still in the middle of the CSS coding of this site and it gave me a lot of inspiration. So, thank you, Dan :)