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5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty Enhances Usability.
Fresh Styles is another beautifully designed book from New Riders. It is easy to flip through, fun to read, and generously illustrated in full color. Curt Cloninger presents a convincing case for abandoning the current trend toward cookie cutter web sites, and he provides plenty of examples for inspiration. He briefly examines the reasons for the development of these...
Published on May 9 2002

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Box and You
I'm a developer. I program. I make the html that makes the pretty pages. I figured that this book would help me come up with some designs (for those oftentimes rare moments that I'm given a design project). I'd impress the boss and get more design projects. It didn't quite work out that way.
This book made me feel like I was in design class. A basic page and its...
Published on Oct. 7 2003 by Jess


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3.0 out of 5 stars The Box and You, Oct. 7 2003
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
I'm a developer. I program. I make the html that makes the pretty pages. I figured that this book would help me come up with some designs (for those oftentimes rare moments that I'm given a design project). I'd impress the boss and get more design projects. It didn't quite work out that way.
This book made me feel like I was in design class. A basic page and its "template" was defined, and then there were more examples that if you squint and shook your head, then you could see it fits that template. I don't think it's so black and white. If so, then they aren't that fresh, are they?
If someone is stuck for design ideas, I'm not sure this book would necessarily help since it's giving more templates. We're trying to move away from looking like everyone else, right? But some ideas for colors did come from this book, so that's good.
I enjoyed the idea of boiling down a lot of web designs into a few basic themes, templates, etc. but think that doing so might make it that much harder to break out of the box and be fresh. Or, if you're like me, once you know the rules, you can break them more easily.
I also liked the little bit of a history lesson that came with this design class. It's quite amazing what some people did with their websites back in the day, and quite amazing how not so far they have come.
Perhaps this book would be better for the true designer and not so much for the developer wanting to be a designer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars has its faults, but still rocks, Sept. 27 2003
By 
Sarah Jade (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
I love this book. I am a student in webdesign and I had no idea what to expect when our teacher asked us to buy this book. when I started flipping through it and read a bit about the gothic organic style, I fell in love instantly.
one problem designers often run into (including myelf), is that once we come up with a good style, we tend to use and re-use it a lot. we get too comfortable with it. this book allows you to explore other techniques and break out of your shell.
sure, I wouldn't follow it word for word. some things have always annoyed me, such as cross browser/platform capabilities, window sizes, loading time, functionality and so on. this book doesn't think much of it. but this doesn't mean we can't use elements of the styles described and reflect the general essence of it in our own works.
I challenge you to at least try each style. just make a layout and navigation scheme, with no content. just to get a feel of the style. don't think about browsers, window sizes and whatnot. then place these layouts in your portfolio and see what your potential employers think of it.
it is quite challenging, but the result is amazingly refreshing. this book is a must-have for every webdesigner to break out of their rut.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fresh? Nope, a Little Stale Around the Edges., July 15 2003
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
I bought this book for the same reason many did, inspiration and to get out of the design rut I felt myself in. I was tired of going onto the web design newsgroups and hearing about tables versus css and non-validating pages and usability and browser compatibility.
It was nice to see someone advocating something that might not have been coded "by the book." That thumbed its nose at "fuddy duddy" web design. But this book careened a little too far off the path for my taste.
I was taken aback that anyone could suggest, as this book did, that the designer was being "playful" by hiding navigation elements. This is just bad web design, no matter whether you are designing a web page for a cutting edge alternative rock band or for a law firm.
The section on Sim City smashes any theories of usability all to hell. I was literally raked over the coals in a web design newsgroup for committing the unpardonable Sin of specifying pixel sizes. I'd love to see those same people review the sites featured in this book. Especially any site based on the Sim City design... 8px? Uh, yeah, RIGHT! You sure better know who your audience is before you undertake wild site designs like most of the ones featured here.
And entropy8 -- or more accurately, its new incarnation, entropy8zuper.org ... I'm invoking the rule my mother taught me long ago: If you can't say something nice....
I'm not sure how much this book would help anyone who designs web pages for a living. It's a nice coffee table book, but it's not a book that will sit beside any of my other HTML or web design books. No, they won't have it. And neither will I.
Now, I'm off to e-Bay to see if I can unload this four-day old unrefrigerated fish.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great for web artists, less relevant for others, Aug. 15 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
I've worked in web site design and development since 1995 and I've seen how people (even those with a lot of computer experience) sometimes struggle to get through web sites and accomplish the tasks they need to do. While this book offers a beautiful layout in the form of colorful screen shots and sidebars, I didn't find much of it very insightful or applicable. In fact, one chapter is devoted to a style the author characterizes as "Punk" due to the focus on subverting visitors ability to navigate a site. The author proposes that one can learn good design principles from the subversiveness of the punk style, but I really didn't find this particularly insightful. Many of the styles highlighted in the book would be difficult to incorporate into sites that you're hoping people will actually use. I can sympathize with the author's frustration with the usability geeks and their metrics on how people traffic sites, but I didn't find many of the styles in this book applicable to "real world" projects. Many URL's cited are already "404" and I disliked the "hacker" approach to coding and developing some of the visual effects. For example, one section of the book details how to write chunky text using HTML tables and cell background colors....Who in the world would do this in a real job, especially given today's section 508 rules?! The intent to inspire through this book is noble and it is a beautiful looking book, but not a resource I would really use given my observations and experience within this field.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Source of Design Ideas, Aug. 10 2002
By 
J. Enright (Jacksboro, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
if your target audience has a gigahertz under the hood, a broadband connection, a 21 inch monitor, and is surfing for entertainment.
Otherwise, the book makes a good point here and there, and a couple of chapters have some useful ideas.
If you're designing usable websites for the typical web surfer, or for intranet users, or for anyone else that is looking for information or merchandise instead of entertainment, this book is not a good choice for a working reference. The author emphasizes the bland results that often come from rigidly following the "rules" of usable website design. He glosses over the findings of innumerable studies that show that web surfers want to get what they came for and move on. Many of the "role model" sites in the book are pretty. Most are confusing, painfully slow to load, and outright annoying if for some reason you need to return often.
Truth is, most of the sites presented as cutting edge design are exactly the kind of site I back out of just as soon as I can. Studies have shown that I'm a fairly typical user in this respect. The design paradigms presented in this book will most likely result in web sites that appeal to a very small audience and irritate typical users. Particularly the user who sat down with a credit card to buy a gift because he or she was too busy to head for the mall.
Buy the book for its chapters on simplicity and it's message of designing "outside the box". But design websites with Neilsen's work on your desk.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Very thin on visuals, examples, ideas & techniques (content), June 7 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
A promising idea : find common design themes from the best of the net and provide a portfolio of design ideas for each. Unfortunately, this book entirely fails to deliver on all counts.
For each of the ten arbitrarily chosen 'styles' Mr. Cloninger has picked, he provides only *very* few examples of each. This is meant to be a book with a wealth of inspirational ideas? -- what are we meant to be looking at? Of the pages with ANY pictures on at all, most have a SINGLE screengrab PER PAGE! As most chapters only discuss a small handful of sites many of these images are from the same site too.
The choice of examples is suspect too, the design of some of them is just terrible. Others like MTV2, have been in every web publication since well before their launch. The consideration of just how Form is to complement/bow to/mostly ignore Function is an integral part of every web design but, when wanting VISUAL design ideas I just really dont need to see screenshots of Jakob Nielsen's site.
Too many of his styles, for example "Pixelated Punk" and "Gothic Organic" have little commercial use. Others, like the "Mondrian Poster" style, are so profuse that it would have been of more creative use to show those who break as well as make the rule.
The design of the book itself is terrible(although the cover itself is great). The text is oversize and pads out the book, the layout is unimaginative and practically the same every page. Original ideas are few and techniques we are tutored with are of the level of tiling background images and pattern-filling in Photoshop.
I fail to see where the use of this book may be, perhaps, to a web/design novice wanting to make their first homepage.
Eye-candy from the Underground? I really don't think so. Not inspiring...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty Enhances Usability., May 9 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
Fresh Styles is another beautifully designed book from New Riders. It is easy to flip through, fun to read, and generously illustrated in full color. Curt Cloninger presents a convincing case for abandoning the current trend toward cookie cutter web sites, and he provides plenty of examples for inspiration. He briefly examines the reasons for the development of these rules and regulations in web design and then points out the pitfalls of adhering too closely to any of them. Cloninger thoroughly explores 10 styles, giving several unique examples for each one, and going into it's purpose, history, and function. Yes, he gives his 10 "fresh style" silly names but it's all in good fun and it works for the purpose of the book.
I find this book extremely useful and it is one that I will keep out of a small selection of web reference books. This isn't a recipe book and although it does contain technical advice, there are few code samples. Cloninger isn't giving out style templates that the reader is meant to copy. On the contrary, his intention is to examine the various styles and give us some insight into how they developed, the reason they were used for that particular project, and what did and didn't work in their implementation. Using this approach, he succeeds in turning them into flexible templates that are a springboard for new ideas and "fresh styles" of your own.
It has been mentioned that some of the websites used in the book no longer exist or have changed dramatically. This is not a problem and does not detract from it's value or usefulness, since all of the necessary examples are printed in the book. It simply illustrates one of the author's major points, that the web is in a constant state of flux and transformation, and will remain in that state. There is no point in attempting to pin it down or render it safe, predictable, and homogenous. It is far more desirable to develop a set of skills and flexibility that will allow you to transform and develop along with your medium. Otherwise, it might just leave you behind. The author is successful in offering a balanced approach between usability and innovation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A "Help" Book for Brain Freeze, Dec 12 2001
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
FRESH STYLES FOR WEB DESIGNERS
Eye Candy From the Underground
Curt Cloninger
PUBLISHER: New Riders
REVIEWED BY: Barbara Rhoades
BOOK REVIEW: Fresh Styles is the book to add to your library when your brain has run out of new ideas or you are in a "brain-freeze" mode. It is written in print size that won't give you eyestrain to read it and plenty of color is used to enhance what you are reading.
Ten different styles are discussed from "Super Tiny SimCity" to "Paper Bag". Don't know what these terms mean? Chapters eight and five respectively will give you the low-down on these styles. The "off-the-wall" styles featured in Fresh Styles will get your creative juices flowing again and maybe even add a new style to your repertoire.
The back cover has a built-in bookmark lip and while there are only four pages for the Content section, there are 13 pages in the Index. This should provide you with a way to locate what you want to find in the book. Each chapter ends with a listing of web sites mentioned in that chapter, therefore providing online visualization of work.
If you have ever run into the "brain freeze" mode (and what designer hasn't?), then be sure to add Fresh Styles for Web Designers, Eye Candy From the Underground" to your library of reference material.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eye candy for creatively-dehydrated web graphic artists, Nov. 18 2001
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
A very good inspiration source. A very good design reference.

Great visuals, great text.
A whole lot of screenshots of cool websites saved my time on surfing. But rather than just looking at hip designs and trying to figure them myself, half of the text in Fresh Styles guided me through each design, with highly readable explanations, so I know how to take advantage of them in the correct manner. The other half of the text are just the author's snipes at web usability theorists. He shouldn't have worried that much about being different to other web theorists, because usability is not a religion, I can buy both Jakob Nielsen's book and Curt Cloninger's book. No problem.
Curt Cloninger
The author may not be a world-class web designer (his personal website is a copycat of one of his favorite websites, while his commercial website is not fresh at all) and the sample websites do not represent the whole web (some are just his friends' unpublished mockups), but the courage to dissect and summarize the hippest styles into 10 categories is truly remarkable and useful.
Buy the book. Read the book. But apply as necessary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Digital Art Historian, Oct. 9 2001
By 
Andrew B. King (Ann Arbor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground (Paperback)
A new group of cutting-edge Web designers are changing the face of the Web, embracing its quirks. Like a new-age digital art historian, Curt Cloninger traces the influences of past masters on the current masters of Web design. Cookie-cutter corporate conformity is out. Morphing the masters is in.
Cloninger covers 10 new underground Web design styles, with names like SuperTiny SimCity, Mondrian Poster, and HTMinimaLism. He traces the roots of these styles to the past. He shows current masters of each style, how to perform some of these techniques, and which commerce projects apply for each style. After reading this book, you'll expand your design vocabulary.
The idea is to create a compelling experience through great design. Branding matters when selling products. The "usability legalists" say that "an elegant design that is unusable will fail." Cloninger agrees but proposes this corollary: "a perfectly usable site which lacks elegant and appropriate design style will fail." He says that the Jakob Nielsenizing of the Web, avoiding "bad usability" at all costs, has fostered an entire generation of safe, bland, copycat Web sites that "are about as engaging as a book on usability testing methodologies."
Cloninger is out to shake things up. He says that to succeed a site must have a "focused narrative voice, an angle, a plan, a consistent point of view to unify its disparate elements and give it a cohesive personality." To Cloninger, creative visual design is an integral part of this site-building process. Inbred conservative copycat design is boring, so Cloninger explores the personal sites of today's leading Web designers. What's wonderful is the way he classifies these styles, relating the present design style to the past with great insight and humor. Roll over Mondrian, tell Kandinsky the news.
I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.
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Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground
Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground by Curt Cloninger (Paperback - Aug. 22 2001)
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