Design book recommendation

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    I'm looking to buy a book on PRINCIPLES of design as it applies to web page
layout/usage.  I am a hardcore web
programmer so I have no interest in reading all about the software the author
loves, but no one has ever accused me
of making a good layout, web or otherwise, so I'd at least like to get a basic

    By way of comparison, I bought Robin Williams' book, "The Non-Designer's
Design Book", and it was an eye opener
for me.  The book essentially identifies four layout principles and she bolsters
her arguments by example, and she
also illustrates what happens when the principles are not followed.  I look at
layout on a paper differently now,
with more appreciation.  Based on this, I was going to get one of her books on
the Web (The Non-Designer's Web Book),
but there were a few reviews which said that much of the text is devoted to
covering software.

    I specifically want to understand the principles because rules without
principles are useless for me.  As a
general rule, I prefer somewhat opinionated authors that back up their opinions
(that means I'd rather have a book
that says "don't do X because such and such will be the result" as opposed to
"you could try X or you could try Y or
maybe even try Z").  My goal in this is to gain an understaning of layout/usage
from the user's perspective.  I'm not
under the illusion that I'll turn into a great designer, but perhaps I can
become a better critic.

    Thanks for your suggestions,

Re: Design book recommendation

Csaba2000 wrote:

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Web site guide: excellent, a must read for beginners and even experts. I
highly recommend this site. Full book, 8 chapters.
WEB STYLE GUIDE, 2nd edition

I assure you that this site will still be excellent and worthy in 1 year
from now and in 5 years from now.

Other worthy sites:
Quality Assurance tutorials at W3C

Using web standards in your page

Open source web design /

Jacok Nielsen usability site

Javascript and Browser bugs: /

Re: Design book recommendation

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Hey Matt,

    No offense, but that's exactly what I don't want.  I'll try to explain why.
It's sort of like learning how to dress stylishly.  You can use the "extrovert"
method of looking at what the latest fashion designers are hawking and
seeing what everyone else is wearing and then go with something similar.
Or you can use the "introvert" method and put on some assortment of
clothes and if it doesn't contravene any set of clothes principles (like
don't mix dots and stripes) declare it wearable.  I'm always better at the
"introvert" method in all arenas (not just clothes).
    Here's another analogy.  One of the principles discussed in Robin
Williams' book concerns the alignment of page elements - that page
elements shouldn't be arbitrarily placed; there should be an alignment
relationship between them.  Even though what's considered hip may
change, this principle still holds.

    My understanding of your post is that for me to design a web page
that is stylish by current standards I'll have to actually see what's currently
out there because styles change too frequently.  I'm not in disagreement,
but that's not what I'm looking for.  Rather, I want to understand what
principles are in operation when I and other people like the stylish new
pages and the old favorites.

Here's two 'for example's.  What are the design implications of having site
navigation based on a "pane" on the left vs. having a "pane" on the
top vs. some alternate method (I use the word pane because I don't
want to suggest underlying technology)?  Or what are the implications
of having a drop down menu system vs. the little +/- signs that
expand/collapse?  I don't want a "You should do this one" answer.
I'm looking to be able to say, "I shouldn't do this one because of
such and such."


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Re: Design book recommendation

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I highly recommend Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense
Approach to Web Usability."  While he writes specifically aimed at
large, commercial sites, his principles apply equally as well to small
and/or personal sites.  This book DOES NOT discuss actual construction
- nary a mention of code, tags, or style sheets.  He DOES express
emphasis on usability, and he's funny as all hell.  Published in 2000,
I believe.

Re: Design book recommendation

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page layout/usage.

The grid: a modular system for the design and production of newspapers,
magazines, and books by Allen Hurlburt

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