Part I of the book covers Preparation. This is the only book I’ve read that actually asks the question "Do you really need a site?" and answers it by providing a comprehensive list of reasons why you might want to put a site online and cases in which you might not need a website. Chapter two covers what you need before you can start creating your website, roviding a good starting point for Internet/Computer newbies. The next few chapters cover webhosting and domain name issues, including an extensive guide on choosing a webhosting company. In Part I of the book you’ll also learn how to setup a newsletter, accept payment online and add interaction to your site via CGI-Scripts. The extensive coverage of accepting payments will prove extremely useful to those who want to start selling online.
Part II of the book covers the design of the site, including a quick overview of HTML, setting up autoresponders, choosing an authoring tool and creating an effective website. You’ll learn how to lead your visitors through your site, how to make it easy for them to move around, as well as how to avoid overwhelming the visitors to your site and more. I especially liked the advice that said "Think USEFUL not Cool," as it is a mistake that many on the Internet make and most website design books propagate.
Part III provides an extensive overview of website promotion. You’ll learn how to survey the internet for locations where prospects who would be interested in your site hang out, about search engines and directories, press releases, real world PR, tracking traffic and much more. The book ends with two checklists, one covering Webhosting and the second one about promotion.
Although 99% of the information of the book is extremely valuable, there are a few things that I don’t agree with and that could get you into trouble in the long run. For example Peter Kent recommends that you limit the number of colors in your graphics to 16, which is totally absurd. He also states that you do not need to learn HTML to create a website, which is possible although it will cause problems for you over time. Some of the Search Engine advice is also a bit outdated, especially the information about getting your site listed in Yahoo.
But I’m just being extremely picky here. Overall the book is an extremely valuable source of information and ideas for all webmasters. Both novice and expert Internet users and webmasters alike will find this an informative, and enjoyable book. Whether you run a site as a hobby or for profit, this book is a must read for everyone.
Update: A second edition of the book has been released which includes updated links and information. Still a must-read.
PoorRichard.com – Sample chapters, table of contents and more from the book.