Whittaker is a lecturer in journalism, media and English in the UK, specilising in international journalism, and the academic slant can be seen in the book, which is quite theoretical. He doesn’t want to get too technical, but feels a good understanding of the history, structure, workings and limitations of the Internet are important so that designers can work within the limitations. Web production and management is now a career choice, rather than a hobby, and throughout the designer must remember that effectiveness is the most important aim.
Before a site is produced, questions should be asked: what do you want to achieve from it, are you prepared to put in the long haul to achieve not only the initial site, but the updates. The structure and homepage are important elements of design, with flexibility within designs to allow for different elements of content, whilst maintaining an overall consistent look. Whittaker approves of Bauhaus design, where form follows function, and “Less is More” is a motto. Although interactivity can be achieved through scripting and multimedia (he discusses various scripting languages currently available), these should not be used just because they are available, as they may interfere with the sites purpose, and users are not interested in the latest technology, but is good design which facilitates usability and content (can learn a lot from newspaper techniques).
Whittaker discusses the use of colour, and graphic optimisation, legal, regulatory and ethical issues, how to promote the site post-production, and how to optimise the site for good search engine rankings. He details building a site using Netscape Composer (although he feels there are many similarities with other editors), whilst stressing the need to understand HTML in order to fine tune the site. He stresses the need to test the site for technical and usability problems before uploading. A website accompanies this book. (January 2002)