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The Principles of Beautiful Web Design Paperback – Feb 10 2007


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Amazon.com: 77 reviews
171 of 175 people found the following review helpful
A good design primer Feb. 12 2007
By Tommy Olsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm not a graphic designer, I'm a techie. This book is a good introduction to graphic design for the web that even I can understand.

Jason Beaird takes us through the design process in a number of steps: layout, colour, texture, typography and images. He shares his wealth of in-depth knowledge in a way that makes it accessible even to those of us who do not have a university degree in design. He doesn't dumb it down, he just explains things very well using an easygoing literary style sprinkled with good-natured humour.

By itself this book will not teach you good web design. It doesn't go into any technical details and it (naturally) focuses on the visual part and aesthetics. Things like semantics and accessibility are subordinate and some of the practices he suggests are less than ideal from those points of view.

There are even some fairly serious errors in the code samples, but those are most likely introduced by the editor rather than the author.

If you know your way around (X)HTML and CSS, but struggle with making your sites more visually attractive, this book is a very good resource. It won't automagically make you a top-notch designer, but it will teach you the foundations and - most importantly - explain WHY things are the way they are.

If you are a web design beginner the book is a good resource for the graphic design part, but don't pay too much attention to the technical parts.
68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Wow - a gap that has needed filling for years March 2 2007
By TheOriginalH - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having "stumbled" into web design almost ten years ago, with no real visual design background to speak of, I have over the course of time picked up principals. This was no easy task, and meant trawling countless websites and articles, being intimidated and awed by the breadth of knowledge and theory that is required to even suggest that you have an idea of what visual design is all about. Some of the articles I read required obscene amounts of concentration and application to the task at hand, as well as some difficult and surprising mental leaps.

A couple of years ago, "The Zen of CSS design" went some way to solidifying some of the pricipals I had learned, and helped guide me in new directions, yet still at times was a little inaccessible and while it is a great reference for themed ideas and principles, this new book has frankly blown me away...and I really wish it had been written a long time ago!

I possess several SitePoint books, but only two others have I read cover to cover in almost one sitting, and then revisited; Kevin Yanks's PHP book and Stuart Langridges Java/ECMA script and DOM book. Not only was the content of these books superb, but the writing style was infectious and consequently the ideas were absorbed quickly. The same is most definitely true of this publication.

Targetted largely at the coding/programming end of the market, it essentially provides the reader with a firm grounding in the ideas, theory and some history of visual design, breaking it down into sensible chunks and providing just the right level of information to leave you not only with a solid base, but thirsting for further knowledge.

This publication could have saved me quite literally weeks and months of stumbling research had I discovered it years ago, and even now is a brilliant refresher for those of us unfortunate enough to have pursued a "proper" degree ;).

For budding and established web designers, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Tremendous resource for web site design May 21 2007
By James Holmes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is perhaps one of the best books I've read in a long time, mostly because it's targeted specifically to folks like myself: those who are technically sound but graphically impaired. My solid skills behind a camera translate not at all to good site design and layout, so I was really excited to look through this book when I first heard about it.

Beaird has written a very concise, gloriously illustrated work that does a tremendous job of covering everything from layout/composition to textures and color. Throughout the book Beaird uses real-world examples of sites that illustrate the particular point he's working on. Sitepoint's willingness to spring for full-color printing helps nail down Beaird's content.

The book clearly discusses layout fundamentals like balance, grid theory, and symetry/asymetry. The chapter on color hits color psychology ("Feeling a bit blue today?"), palatte selection, and the value of using color wheels to pick complementary and contrasting colors.

The rest of the book is every bit as golden, hitting texture, typography, and imagery. There are a number of terrific resources for fonts, colors, and images with a mix between free and commercial resources.

This isn't a book to find out the details of how blocks flow and clear in CSS, nor is it a book to learn about the latest and greatest in AJAX/Javascript. What this book does cover, and covers well, are the higher-level, vital concepts you need to grok before you start wiring up AJAX controls and laying out <div> elements.

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design isn't just for lame design folks like myself. I imagine even accomplished web designers could learn a thing or two from it. It's that good.
98 of 110 people found the following review helpful
This is NOT a book on design principles May 30 2007
By Marten K - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A more appropriate title for this book is `things to think about when making a website and how me and my friends do it - for dummies'. The book does a fine job for such a title.

This book does NOT articulate a set of principles and explain their application; there is little to generalize to other problem solving contexts (or my context at least).

I am new to web development and for other self directed learning (Java, XHTML, AJAX and OO) I have started with a funky Head First book followed by more formal academic books (Booch, Bloch, Dietal, Larman, Jeremy Keith).

This book is neither funky or formal. Where the Head First series successfully uses cultural references and idioms to engage the reader in learning complex concepts and principles, this book uses similar devices with no obvious intent other than being familiar. Where the formal books locate material by referencing a broader academic context, this author references the somewhat creative work of his own and that of his friends. There is no bibliography and this is not a primer to the broader discipline.

The author admits difficulty in `verbalizing the procedures' because much of his design is `subconscious' (p24), he follows with four pages of stream of consciousness explanation on the realization of a design that includes over sixty `I' references - and scant reference to design principles. There is NO discussion of the design principles underpinning well-known successful sites, nor how principles unfold in various contexts such as corporate sites, e-commerce sites, blog sites, sales sites, Gothic music and games sites, and so forth.

For example, fixed versus liquid layouts is addressed with pros and cons listed. The author concludes that 'the decision [is]...determined by the target audience and accessibility goals of each individual web site' (p29). However, principles for determining audience needs and their accessibility goals for different contexts is NOT really covered.

There seems disdain for academic rigor and technical knowledge: `the rule of thirds or...rule of turds' (p10). `besides, my maths is a little rusty' (p9) `Describing ...emotional connections ... with colors can be a hippy-esque topic' (p39). There is no sense that the author is in command of the discipline, instead he appears embarrassed by its technical aspects.

Color blindness and accessibility are NOT covered. `Principle/s' is NOT listed in the index.

I give two stars as it may be useful for some, as demonstrated by other reviews; and the book is well presented. However, I will fulfill my needs by looking for more substantial and perhaps non web directed books on color and graphic design.

[addendum 24 Nov 07 - See my review on "The Complete Color Harmony" by Sutton and Whelan The Complete Color Harmony: Expert Color Information for Professional Color Results (Color Harmony)for a book I used for principles of color]
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
For programmers? April 23 2007
By Joshua K. Briley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I will agree with one of the previous comments about the confusion on the intended audience. This book skims the surface on the basics of design. There is some good information in this book if you've got no design background at all. From that standpoint, it's obvious how someone who's spent their entire career inside a development framework would benefit, if they chose to move over to the design world. Stating it is intended for programmers and developers is simply misleading.

The author picks a company for whom he designed a site. Although he covers some interesting topics throughout the book, the project he chose to demonstrate is far from inspiring. Seems as though he could chosen a more interesting project.

I read this book the same time I read "Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design" by Andy Clarke. It is much more inspiring and in depth book in regards to DESIGN. You'll learn some really amazing CSS techniques as well. As of late, I find New Riders publications to outdo Sitepoint books on similar subjects.

I'd wait to purchase a used version of this book...


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