Top critical review
26 people found this helpful
Good for beginners, but nothing here for seasoned professionals
on 26 April 2009
I'm a professional web designer and have been in the new media industry for over 15 years. I rarely buy technical books these days since so much knowledge is available for free on the web, but I was excited to get hold of this tome by Elliot Jay Stocks since he's an excellent designer and I hoped to tap into what it is that sets him apart from the rest of us.
Unfortunately, this book doesn't do that. There isn't enough here to inspire you to create truly original, breathtaking designs. You'll have to look elsewhere for that kind of inspiration, such as on-line CSS galleries, and for that reason I think the title of the book is slightly misleading.
'Sexy Web Design' will be much more valuable to beginner web designers. Elliot takes you through a typical web design process up to the point of delivery of design comps. He looks at everything from initial research, to site structure, layout, colour, typography, style, visual flair and technical considerations. There are many ideas and concepts addressed, including colour theory, grid systems for layout, web safe fonts, etc. As a book outlining a sound web design process and a checklist of all the compromises and considerations that go into that process, it delivers pretty well.
It will also be very insightful for the more experienced designer who never plans their work and simply jumps straight into PhotoShop without thinking about what their website needs to achieve.
If you've been in the industry for a few years and worked to an established design process (Research, Requirements Gathering, Information Architecture, Layout/Design/Style) then this book won't teach you much. But if any of those stages are alien to you and you don't understand the full process, then this book is probably worthwhile.
Even though I think this book is useful for inexperienced designers, I do have some reservations. The main issue is a lack of detail. The book skips through at a brisk pace and you'll get through it in well under two hours. I would have liked to see a more detailed break down of some stages, for example: How to work with clients, how to brain storm and come up with concepts and refine them through collaboration and iteration. Kudos for linking out to useful websites where appropriate, but a little more text would have been welcome.
'Sexy Web Design' does seem overpriced. You're paying over £30 for about 140 pages of actual content (many of these being large screen-shots) and I don't think you get enough for your money. To be fair the price is because the printing is in full colour (and it's a beautifully designed book, no question), but for this price I'd expect something more detailed and definitive; as it stands it's a little lightweight.
As an overview of good web design practices, 'Sexy Web Design' offers lots of useful advice for inexperienced web designers. More experienced designers are likely to be a bit disappointed.