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Review: The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Posted on February 21st, 2010 by Neil Crosby. Filed under Blog Posts.

I’m not a designer. That much is obvious from looking at the websites I produce that haven’t been designed by someone else. That doesn’t mean I don’t care though; which is why on Christmas day last year I ordered Robin Williams‘ “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” (as recommended to me by Tim Huegdon).

I’ve only just got round to reading the book, but I’m glad I did. As a learning book it’s deliberately quite lightweight and easy to get through in a short time, in the same way that Steve Krug‘s “Don’t Make Me Think” is designed to be absorbed in a couple of hours on a flight. All told, I spent about three hours with this book, on my tube journeys to and from work this week.

Robin starts her journey by briefly explaining the concepts of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity (anyone spot an acronym there?), before moving on to explore each concept in greater detail. As Robin repeatedly tells us in her book, by being able to name the concepts you’re able to identify them and use them deliberately rather than accidentally.

The second half of the book deals with type; the different styles of typefaces, how to combine them and horrible errors of judgement to avoid.

Spread throughout the book are a bunch of mini quizzes and exercises designed to get you thinking about what you’ve just read. The quizzes are a nice touch, and I’m sure I’ve retained more knowledge because of them than I would have done if I’d just read through from cover to cover.

The book covers design in general, rather than being focussed on the web, print or presentations. Whilst Williams has written a book called “The Non-Designer’s Web Book” I specifically chose to buy this one because both I wanted a general overview book and because the web book is from 2005 (a lifetime ago on the web) and has some mixed reviews. “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” did not disappoint – it’s given me that overview that I was looking for, and I now feel a bit more comfortable that my designs will actually work.

The Non-Designer’s Design Book” costs £23.99 in all good bookshops, or currently £12.30 on Amazon.

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2 Responses to “Review: The Non-Designer’s Design Book”

  1. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Further to this, earlier this month I bought Steve Krug’s second book “Rocket Surgery Made Easy”, which is a little more involved than his first, and covers usability testing in depth. Consider it another recommendation. ;)

  2. Super – “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” was on my to-buy list, but it’s good to hear it’s worth the money before going and buying it.

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