Hungry Minds, $29.95, ISBN 0-7645-4874-3
Graphics and Design, 2001
A quick look at his biblography tells me that Michael Miller makes a career out of writing humorous self-help books in various fields, mostly in running e-commerces. Building Really Annoying Websites, however, is a bit of a con job. For one, he doesn’t develop the scripts used in this book. Secondly, good luck in trying to copy them if you are valiant enough to do so – some of the script takes up two pages in this book. I wish I can be like Michael Miller, really. I’ll go to some script website, maybe Lissa Explains, grab a few scripts and write a book about using these scripts, just like Mr Miller did. Alas, I’m not well-connected as he is so…
Despite being impractical for people actually looking for useful scripts for their website since they will have to transfer the codes on the book onto their website source code by hand (a CD-ROM would have come in handy here), this book makes a pleasant, irreverent read if you have $29.95 to spare or an extra slot in your library card. Like the book title promises, this book offers plenty of tips on how to abuse the more horrendous trends in web design. There are scripts for all kinds of pop-ups: simple ones, ones that float along with the visitor as the loser scrolls down to the screen, ones that keep popping up again and again every time the visitor closes the pop-up, ones that just cannot be closed at all, and even a pop-up bomb that will crash the visitor’s computer. There are tricks to hijack your visitor’s cursor, manipulate the visitor’s browser window size and color (including one that sends the browser window bouncing off the sides of the screen), fake cursor images to provide your visitor plenty of fun as he tries to figure out which cursor image is the real one, and other crazy nonsense. Also present are advice on how to choose the worst image and sound format to drive people crazy and tips and tricks on making your website completely unnavigable.
The thing is, I have seen many of these scripts in free script repositories online. Of course, those repositories never explain how these scripts can make visitors’ life really hard. Mr Miller’s philosophy is that he is adopting a tongue-in-cheek approach where he hopes that by pointing out obvious methods of abuse of these techniques, readers will become more cautious and use these tricks more carefully with better results.
For readers who don’t know where to look online but just need to have sixteen colorful pop-ups that play different music from each pop-up to welcome visitors to their website, this book will be what they are looking for. For others, this book is a pleasant, entertaining diversion that rarely offers anything useful beyond that. This book is fluff, in other words.