The Principles of Beautiful Web Design Paperback – Feb 10 2007
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About the Author
Jason Beaird dual-majored in graphic design and digital media at the University of California Florida. When he's not working on websites, he enjoys disassembling electronics and using them in his artwork. Jason writes about his adventures in design and technology on his personal site, jasongraphix.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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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