Review of Head First Web Design and Notes

I have created numerous web pages and websites as a hobby in last 12 years. But,I always wondered about the industry known as “Web Design” and profession “Web Designer”. I thought creating cool logo and graphics using Photoshop as skills of web designer.Also, I was aware of the fact that people who create Wordpress and Joomla templates are web designer. As you might have understood,I had no formal education of Web Designing. Reading any book on this subject was always there is “to do” list but had low priority. I bought the book “Head First Web Design” last week from Flipkart  to read it, while I was supposed to travel.If you are in USA you may buy it from Amazon. Now, I am glad I bought the book.

The book explains the concept of Web Design in interactive manner. It has a lot of images, examples and tasks. I read the book in just 2 sittings!! It’s so interesting.The book assumes that you have some working knowledge of XHTML and CSS. All the technical examples in the book use XHTML and CSS. Book explains in detail about process involved in Web Design and have a chapter  about “The business of Web Design” as well. Here is chapter wise summary of the book.

  1. Building beautiful web pages -  The chapter introduces about four core processes of Web Design.
    • Pre-Production
    • layout
    • navigation
    • writing (content)
    The chapter also introduces a terminology, Information Architecture (IA).Information Architecture is a process to break the content in chunk and arrange in in hierarchical order of one another.It is achieved by organizing the site content and building an IA diagram. Website Navigation is a product of IA.

    The chapter also introduces a term called StoryBoard in Web design.Storyboard facilitate visualization of the design and test basic layout before one can start coding the layout.

  2. Pre-Production – Pre-production involved developing a theme and Visual Metaphor for the Website. This would include -

    • Choosing a color palette for the website
    • Using visual elements to reinforce the theme
    • Design a layout based on content.
    Hand drawn Storyboards should be used to finalize and visualize the design before its finalized.The book has given example of developing a storyboard from a real life scenario. Authors have suggested following process for development of storyboard.
    • Make grid on a paper
    • Sketch your design
    • Add color and finalize your design
  3. Oraganizing Your Site – The chapter teaches how to find categories and section for content. The process is named as Information Architecture. Using card sort the content is broken into hierarchy and IA diagram is created. 
  4. Layout and Design – One need to put the design on computer screen. Considering this, a screen resolution needs to be decided, based on end-user PC.Authors have shown how to develop the \layout using CSS based grid layout. The chapter also introduces concept of “Rule of thirds (2/3 and 1/3)” or “Golden Ratio”, while designing content area in any layout.
  5. Designing with color – The chapter talks about
    • Choosing the color wheel
    • Concept of Color schemes
    • Triadic and Tetradic Color scheme
    • And a tool to choose color palette (
  6. Smart Navigation -   Information Architecture of a given site should serve as base of site navigation. Authors talk about horizontal and vertical navigation scheme as well as primary and secondary navigation for a site. They have also gave example when one may use horizontal versus vertical navigation besides other things related to navigation.
  7. Writing for the Web – There is some surprising data in this chapter. Did you know that people read slower on computer screen than a printed material. The difference is significant about 15% slower than printed material having same content. Also, reading habit for same person is different, while reading on printed material than reading in in browser. On internet people hardly read top to bottom and left to right, religiously. They tend to scan the matter and decide if they need to read first para or more.That means, writing on web needs to be different that writing a book. Authors have provided nice examples about “How to write for web”.
  8. Accessibility – US Census Bureau categorizes 19.6% of the US population as having some sort of disability. Book explains why we should consider including accessibility options in our web design and how we can achieve this. This topic is also necessary for people who are providing or may provide services to USA government agencies.As section 508 of US Federal Rehabilitation Act requires that Federal agencies make their electronic and information technology, including websites accessible to people with disabilities.
  9. Listen to your users – This chapter emphasises importance of user feedback about your website and listening to their demands. It describes techniques to enable “listing to users”, like survey, analytics etc in detail.
  10. Evolutionary Design – the book says, “A website should evolve (change incrementally) instead of changing radically all the time”. It lists a few ways to do it using Jquery, Lighbox and blogging.
  11. The Business of Web Design – The chapter deals with various aspect of running Web Design service as business. It starts with ways to deal with web design piracy, then moves to defining categories of professional services in world of web. Aspect of managing it as firm or company (this information is only valuable for USA based guys) and prevailing wages in Web Design industry. It also help you to write proposal letter for your business and estimating the job of web designing task.
  12. Appendix - Appendix of “Head First Web Design” is useful as well . It talks a little bit about 10 more topics which book didn’t cover in detail.

In India, you can buy Head “First Web Design” online from FlipKart while in USA you have option of buying it from Amazon. Is the review helped you to decide, if you want to introduce yourself with world of web design?


  1. That's a pretty interesting book and it looks like it's loaded with a lot of new information about web designing. As a newbie in SEO companies, I think this book would also help me improve my craft. I'm surely going to download this book.

  2. It's so much fun to make your own website. My sister and I are fond of getting templates but we are currently enrolled in a web designing course to know more about California web designs. This post will give us more knowledge and expertise.

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