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CSS3 for Web Designers by Dan Cederholm

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CSS3 for Web Designers

CSS3 for Web Designers

Image courtesy A Book Apart

This is an excellent book for getting started with the fun parts of CSS3 that work right now. It is short and easy to read. The ebook version also comes with videos embedded in the content so that you can see the animated styles in action without having to write any code.


  • Covers CSS3 techniques that work right now
  • Short and easy to read, I finished it in about 3 hours, reading it cover-to-cover.
  • Explains basics like rounded corners and multiple backgrounds
  • But also covers more advanced topics like transitions, transformations, and animations
  • Ebook version includes video and full-color images to show the styles in action


  • Some people may find it a little folksy
  • Does not cover media queries, multi-column layout, or web fonts—it is not intended to be a comprehensive resource on CSS3
  • Does not offer a lot of fallback options for techniques that don't work in browsers like IE.


  • Chapter 1 covers why you should start using CSS3 right now, and how you can do that without a lot of hacks or browser tricks.
  • Chapter 2 introduces CSS transitions and how to use them to smooth out changes to your designs that are triggered by events like hovering, clicking, or focusing on an element.
  • Chapter 3 takes what you learned in the first two chapters and demonstrates how you might use them on a real website.
  • Chapter 4 explains CSS transformations.
  • Chapter 5 teaches you how to use multiple backgrounds and gives some great suggestions for really interesting effects.
  • Chapter 6 shows you how to improve your forms to make them look better. it also shows you how to use CSS gradients to make the form fields more interesting and button styles to create buttons people want to click.
  • Chapter 7 pulls it all together by talking about what to do if your boss or clients don't want to use CSS3 for fear that it's not done yet. In fact, the best advice in this chapter is to just do it. Chances are your boss or clients won't even realize that it's CSS3 and be really pleased with it.
  • The last chapter also includes links to other places you can go to learn CSS3.

Guide Review – CSS3 for Web Designers by Dan Cederholm

This was a very enjoyable book to read, ignoring all the things you can learn for a minute. Dan Cederholm has a pleasant, colloquial style that is well suited to short books. He makes the boring technical stuff more fun. If you are used to drier, more technical manuals, you may be disappointed, but even if you are, the stuff that Dan is teaching in this book is too fun to be bothered with his writing style.

The book covers a lot of CSS3 and why you should start using it right now. It talks about how to do different techniques, explains what browsers don't support them. I particularly like Chapter 3 where Dan explains how to use the techniques he describes in the first two chapters in a real world setting. It can be difficult translating an instruction explaining how to create a gradient into use on a website, and this chapter does that for us.

The problem is that he only does that for the first two chapters. The remaining chapters have some examples from a website, but are not as explicit in showing where you might use a transformation or uses for multiple backgrounds beyond the site background itself.

I completely agree with the solution Dan recommends for dealing with browsers that don't support these features of CSS3—don't worry about it. He explains that you really should only be using these CSS3 embellishments on the “experience” layer, and then only in non-critical areas like interactivity, rewards, and feedback. If you are enhancing your site with CSS3 features, this will make customers want to upgrade to a CSS3 compatible browser. And if it's an enhancement, customers that can't upgrade will still be able to use the site.

This Book is For All Intermediate and Advanced Designers

If you already know HTML and some CSS, this is a good book to go further with. It doesn't teach any basics of CSS or HTML, so if you don't know either, you should take a class first. But once you have the basics, you’ll see that CSS3 is fun and easy to use.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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