In today's world it is almost impossible to brand yourself, communicate with customers, sell products, and provide services without having some kind of web presence, be it a blog or other website. And while there are many good web designers out there and many good pre-formatted do-it-yourself website builders such as Adobe's Dreamweaver and Apple's iWeb, some people just like to build from scratch.
HTML and XHTML are the standard codes from which websites are built. The code is read by a web browser which then renders the page. CSS (cascading style sheet) is a somewhat newer standard that allows you to format your site in a more global way so all pages within a site have a similar look and common elements.
The first edition of Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML and CSS received a great review here on Blogcritics a couple of years ago. The second edition, too, is a clear and easy-to-understand guidebook. It walks you through the setup of a website with an embedded blog from start to finish. All the software referred to is free to download and available for both Mac and Windows, and you can even download the sample code from the publisher's website and avoid tons of typing!
You start by setting up your basic site elements and adding shape and style using CSS to play with colors, text appearance, web link styles, borders, headlines, and basic page elements. Then there is a wonderful discussion of how to work with images, including how to adjust them, use them as background as well as inline, and how to make them more accessible. Tables, forms, blogs — all of these structural elements of a great site are covered in depth.