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Poor Richard's Web Site

Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice On Building a Low-Cost Web Site

by Peter Kent

Poor Richard's Web Site cover

Everybody's doing it. You neighbor, your best friend, the grocer, the butcher, the candlestick maker. But for the life of you, you cannot understand how a little bit of type gets turned into what is for all intents and purposes a home movie screen. It used to be enough to just run the video camera. Now you have to be able to produce the movies without a stage. Shakespeare would be smashed out of shape. The Globe Theater has become your desktop. But in order to become a player, you need to know the script.

You've even gone to the bookstores, tried valiantly to figure out which megatome for the electronically challenged has the magic bullet buried in its pages, but five double latte´s later, your are surrounded by empty paper cups, your heart rate is definitely not feeling healthy, and you still haven't found what you're desperately looking for. The illuminating insight, that one piece of information, that "aha" experience in which the mystery of creating visuals out of mere words falls out of the sky and lights your way to becoming a webmaster.

Well, look no more.

There is help for the great sea of nongeeks who don't want to watch the global experience pass them by. Peter Kent's book Poor Richard's Web Site takes you by the hand and explains all the stuff geeks consider common knowledge. The kind of things they don't even know you don't know. If the truth be known, the kinds of things they could care less about.

All this in a format that doesn't assume you're a dummy to begin with, or worse, encourage you to out-and-out call yourself one. You don't have to take on the role of the court jester to get a little basic information about how to make the transition from the world of words to the world of the stage.

Peter Kent doesn't talk down to you. He will tell you up front that you may not even need a web site. But if you want one, he'll tell you how to think through the design for your pages. Make no mistake, the planning that comes before you start looking for nifty graphics to liven up your site is the most important part of web site design.

But even with the best of planning, there comes a time when you have to deal with reality. How do you get your plans on the magic screen. Peter Kent walks you through the tangle of electronic paths you will need to traverse to become the master of your domain. More importantly, he tells you how and why -- in non-technical terms -- you have to tread these virtual boards. He doesn't just wave his hands in the general direction of technology writ large and toss you upon the world of the web stage to virtually kill your audience.

Peter Kent believes that web pages need to do something more than just sit there. They are not, as he says, billboards. So he takes you beyond the simple creation of a page and tells you the kinds of things you will need to do to get people to come to your site and stay there long enough to get your message. So this book isn't just about how to create your web page, but how to publicize it and market what you're offering. This is the stage view often lacking in the geek books, books which tend to be much more interested in telling you how to do everything you can possibly do technically with a web page, but overlook the point of why you're doing it in the first place. Like Benjamin Franklin in the original Poor Richard's Almanac, Peter Kent is fond of sprinkling aphorisms amonst his explanations. One of his favorites?

The Internet is a giant jobs program for computer geeks.

There's no need for me to go into the details here of the book's table of contents and all the nitty gritty lists that lowly book reviewers usually pad their assessment with because Peter Kent has put up this information at his web site. In fact, his web site nicely illustrates the kinds of things you should do to make your page more than a mere billboard. He practices what he preaches. Well, almost. His Poor Richard's web site is not really quite the simplicity in design he preaches, but it doesn't crash my old browser and it loads before I can make it to the kitchen and back with my coffee mug.

Many authors are putting up web sites to promote and publicize their books, provide a place for their readers to give them feedback, and most important of all, keep readers posted on any information that might have changed since publication. Peter Kent has over 800 useful web addresses for those who are building their own web sites scattered throughout his book. He has collected them all together in one place at his web site, and he adds to this list constantly. Even though you've bought the book, Peter Kent gives you many reasons to return to his pages on Poor Richard's Web Site time and time again.

Indeed, this is the book for the rest of us. We now have the script we need to appear upon the world's web stage with a persona even Shakespeare could applaud.

Break a leg!

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