The Art & Science of Web Design by Jeffrey Veen should be required reading by any and every executive, web developer and marketing staff member in every company in the U.S. Okay, maybe I exaggeratre — but only a little. Veen “gets it.” Filled with commonsense arguments (like the initial quote) for function over form and form’s impact on additional function, the book presents the necessary marriage of the practical, the commercial and the possible of web site development. And it is presented clearly and comfortably. The Art & Science of Web Design is for anyone wanting to fully understand the practical purpose and potential of the web. If you’re considering a sizeable expenditure on your web site (i.e., hiring a web design agency and allocating several thousands of dollars), then you — everyone else involved — really should read this book before anyone steps into the first meeting.
The first chapter on the history and development of the web may be a bit daunting to the technophobic, but you can come back to it later if you wish. I agree with his thesis that good design comes from a deep understanding of the technologies it’s built upon. An artist must understand his or her materials to get the most from them. But it’s when Veen moves directly into the issues of development — interface, structure, behavior, browsers, performance — that he shines. He methodically takes the reader from the very core of web page development through the steps of adding additional functionality and efficiency by adding the skills of the engineers (the coders) to the vision of the designers (artists) to meet the goals of the architects (developers and copywriters).
And that’s my only caveat about The Art & Science of Web Design. It gives an excellent overview of how a web presence should and can work, however, Veen assumes a larger budget than most small organizations can allocate initially. I do, however,highly recommend any business person preparing to develop a web site read the The Art & Science of Web Design to get a thorough grounding and understanding of professional web site development and maintenance. Just don’t let the book discourage you. It is possible to build a professional, functional web site for considerably less, but this title will help you know where you may be heading as you grow and let’s you start with “the end in mind.”