Bulletproof Web Design

Reviewed July 25th, 2006 @ 01:59PM

[Book Cover] Bulletproof Web Design

Bulletproof Web Design does an incredible job of teaching, step-by-step, how to make your website ‘Bulletproof’. The author introduced the book by defining what it means to have a bulletproof website. He used the example of a police officer wearing a bulletproof vest. No, it is not 100% protection against a bullet — but it decreases the chances and is extra protection. When applied to a website, this means that your website can handle the ‘bullets’ being thrown at it. These are things like text resizing, use of assistive devices, no CSS, no images, and a few other examples.

The thing I liked most about this book is that it wasn’t preaching web standards — It was simply walking you through each chapter — with each chapter building on the last — and showing you techniques that work. The book itself does an incredible job of keeping your attention through the use of images, highlighting, and full code listing. For those who can’t quite grasp CSS (especially positioning and the like), this book is extremely helpful through its thorough explanations and visuals. Screenshots are provided each step of the way to let you see your progress.

Each chapter introduces you to new ways of handling things like text display, link display, navigation, list elements, layouts, floating, positioning, and a few others. Each chapter first take an example of a website (or aspect of a website) that is not bulletproof, then re-constructs that example with semantic XHTML and CSS to show you the results. The last chapter of the book brings it all together and shows you how it could be used in a production environment, with each piece of the puzzle being put together. The author doesn’t dwell on the array of hacks and filters — but simply lists the ones that he uses and how they get the job done (and why they are needed).

Using proper XHTML and CSS is sometimes misunderstood. This is where many will start with a bad case of classitis and divitis and start going crazy adding extra markup. The author does a great job of creating very lean, structured, semantic XHTML. This is the XHTML that is friendly to browsers and other devices alike, as well as rich in meaning. Using proper elements to get the job done is vitally important to the meaning of the website itself. He focuses on this aspect, and with each chapter discusses the importance of the structure and not adding unnecessary presentational markup to your pages. It is this separation of presentation and content that ultimately makes using proper CSS a wise choice.

Quite frankly, this is one of the best CSS books I have read — and I would recommend it to both the beginner and advanced CSS developer. This review doesn’t even do the book justice — mainly because you need to buy it and read it to really enjoy the context as a whole. There are many things I could explain in more detail, and there are many different things that I learned through reading this book (some of which were things that were needed immediately). This is a no-fluff CSS book that brings everything together nicely, and a must have for any web developers bookshelf!