Excerpts from book:

This book is a catalog of the mistakes that I've made while building more than 100 Web sites in the last five years. I wrote it in the hopes that others won't have to repeat those mistakes.

In a society that increasingly rewards specialists and narrowness, Web publishing is one of the few fields left where the generalist is valuable. To make a great site, you need to know a little bit about writing, photography, publishing, Unix system administration, relational database management systems (RDBMS), user interface design, and computer programming. I have thus assumed no specific technical background among my readers and have tried to make the text self-contained.

I knew that I'd succeeded with my previous book, Database Backed Web Sites when, flying out to San Francisco, I happened to sit next to a Harvard MBA. He grabbed the book from my hands and read it from cover to cover during the six-hour flight. When he finished he said "I learned from every page. I don't have any technical background but I found all of the explanations very clear. The book was funny and easy to read all the way through." I was adjusting my position so that I could pat myself on the back when he commented on the cover: "I never would have bought this book if I'd seen it in a bookstore."

Mercifully that previous book is out of print, though the lessons I learned from the people who used it are incorporated here.

George among the leaves. Melrose, Massachusetts. For the manager in charge of a Web publication or service, this book gives you the big picture. It is designed to help you to affirmatively make the high-level decisions that determine whether a site will be manageable or unmanageable, profitable or unprofitable, popular or unpopular, reliable or unreliable. I don't expect you to be down in the trenches typing Oracle SQL queries. But you'll learn enough from this book to decide whether in fact you need a database, whom to hire as the high database priest, and whom to allow anywhere near the database. You'll be able to have a conversation with a database expert. If you get bogged down in some of the tech chapters, I encourage you to skip to the end where I present a vision of the future informed by my 22 years at the same email address.

For the literate computer scientist, I hope to expose the beautiful possibilities in Web service design. I want to inspire you to believe, as I do, that this is the most interesting and exciting area in which we can work.

For the instructors who've been using my book as a course text, I've added "More" sections at the bottom of each chapter pointing to in-depth reference material.

For the student, I've thrown in lots of my photos so that when the class is over, you'll have a nice coffee table book.

For the working Web designer or programmer, I want to arm you with a new vocabulary and mental framework for building sites. There can be more to life than making a client's bad ideas flesh with PhotoShop and Perl/CGI.