Non-Designers Design Book (1st Edition)
Author: Robin Williams
Publisher: Peachpit Press
One of the great habits in the world of computers is a love of naming things. Patterns, refactoring techniques, types of security hole, all of these become easier to research and discuss once you have a common vocabulary. This book applies the same principle to basic design. It improves your design skills by helping you identify and recognise good and bad examples of the core principles.
The first six chapters of the book provided the most benefit to me. They introduce the four basic design principles: proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast. Each concept is clearly explained and illustrated. A number of examples are presented, each one presents a design flaw that the reader is shown how to improve. The process of working through bad designs made the ideas more solid to me, and verified that I understood the text.
The second part of the book, which focuses on typography and fonts, didn’t hold my interest, fonts don’t interest me. These chapters are well written and the information is valid - I’ve referenced sections since putting the book back on the shelf - but their value depends on how much you want to know about the subject. And I didn’t.
It’s worth noting that this book specialises in the design of mostly textual, printed things. Newsletters, business cards, newspaper adverts, all of these are used to teach you concepts in frequent and easy to follow examples.
Summary: I opened this book knowing almost nothing of design, typography or layout. Now I’ve closed it I understand the basic principles of what works on a printed page. Without an investment of days. 7⁄10.
Update: While looking up the ISBN of this book for thew review I noticed that a second edition is now out. This review is of the firest edition.