Subtitled Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice, this book is for anyone who has to design a newsletter, job ad, flyer, business card, memo, report or whatever, but has no idea what separates good design from bad. Except, of course, that the first looks clear, professional, sophisticated and right, and the second is an ugly, unreadable mess.
Robin Williams has an easily readable style and manages to communicate sometimes complex and sophisticated concepts simply and directly. She rightly assumes that, though most people can recognise bad design when they see it, they don't know why it's bad and are therefore powerless to fix the same problems in their own work.
The bulk of the book is given over to explaining how, by sticking to four basic design principles--contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity--you can eliminate design gremlins from your work. In searching for a memorable and appropriate acronym for this principled approach, Williams admits she was only semi-successful.
The second half of the book deals with how to use type. Once again the approach is to explain simply, directly and with illustrated examples how the relationship between typefaces is defined.
As a college teacher, Williams can't resist the temptation to dot little quizzes, tests and mini-projects throughout the text. These are mostly good fun and reinforce what you've read, though even if you decide to ignore them they won't spoil your enjoyment of the book.
The Non-Designer's Design Book is the kind of book you could read in your lunch break. Its attitude is more "sketch in the margin with a pencil", than "complete the projects on the CD". It would be an ideal primer for anyone starting a design course, as well as those who want to improve the look of their memos. --Ken McMahon
From the Back Cover
Robin Williams wrote this one "for all the people who now need to design pages, but who have no background or formal training in design." Follow the basic principles clearly explained in this book and your work is guaranteed to look more professional, organized, unified, and interesting. You'll never again look at a page in the same way. Full of practical design exercises and quizzes. Runner-up for Best Introductory Systems How-to Book in the 10th Annual Computer Press Awards.
This book is for the secretary laying out an office newsletter, the entrepreneur designing her own advertising, the student wanting a better-looking term paper, or the professional creating a lasting impression with a new client. As a book of general design principles, it doesn't matter what computer one is using, or whether one is using a computer at all - the principles and terminology of good design remain the same.
Robin assumes that readers simply want to know how to make pages look better. She equips them with the four basic concepts used in virtually every well-designed job. Dozens of real-world examples enliven the text and demonstrate that Robin practices what she preaches: Good design does indeed capture the reader's attention.
In the second half, the focus is on type, specifically the problem of combining multiple typefaces. Robin demonstrates that in page design, as in life, a relationship is established that is either concordant, conflicting, or contrasting.
Each chapter is conveniently summarized, and there are practical design exercises, optional quizzes, and bibliography. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to feel at ease in the often confusing world of graphic design.