Bulletproof Web Design — Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS by Dan Cederholm
Let me start off by saying I’m a programmer, not a designer. Before reading Bulletproof Web Design, I had a basic understanding of just enough CSS structure and concepts to get by. This approach lead to very inefficient markup that was hard to read and maintain. What I was missing was a deeper understanding as to when to use the different constructs and why. I found this and much more in this book.
Dan Cederholm used a brilliant format in Bulletproof Web Design. Each chapter takes a single concept illustrated by an example site that employees a traditional “unbulletproof” approach and explains the pitfalls of the traditional methods. He then deconstructs the page and rebuilds it step-by-step using semantic XHTML and CSS. The books step-by-step approach of modifying only a couple lines of CSS and explaining the results make the book a quick, yet informative read.
The book starts by explaining why and how to design your site for flexible text sizes. He uses this as the driving point for the rest of the book. How to make your navigation, tables, tabs, lists, widget boxes, rounded corners, and layouts flexible. How to design your site to be valuable to users who either can not or choose not to use images and / or style sheets. The book ends with the step-by-step approach of creating a page that ties every concept together.
Reading the book has made me feel much more confident in my CSS usage. I have already seen the payoff as I have used the methodologies in the book to both design new widgets and to refactor existing code. I feel lucky to have stumbled upon it and am looking forward to reading his sequel book, Handcrafted CSS — More Bulletproof Web Design.