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on 26 April 2006
Make no mistake, this book is aimed at folk that may be interested in the general ideas behind the design process. It will be of little help to those that already have a knowledge of the fundamentals of design.

A simple to follow and intuiative layout makes for easy reading. The straight forward language and abundance of picture examples showing good and bad design means that the reader absorbs all the information readily and can pick up the design tips without taxing themselves too much. It covers a great deal of ground without making the reader break into a sweat. The pace of the book is lighthearted and friendly.

This is the type of book that you can read and absorb within an hour. It excites you to start designing you own newslatter, brochure, business card, letterhead, poster etc. as soon as you have put it down. Having learned about things like, layout, type styles, proximity, heirachy, contrast, alignment etc, you will be armed with enough basic knowledge to ensure that your efforts will certainly not look amateurish anymore.

This is the type of book that can be picked up and read by anyone aged from 13 to 130 yrs. you dont need to be technically minded or a whizz kid designer to benefit from this little gem.

there are a few quizes at the back of this book that help re-inforce the info in the readers mind.

All good stuff!!
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on 21 March 2017
I bought this as I'm due to start a new job where I'll be expected to do some design work, and it brilliantly describes all the basics that I had a vague idea about in a coherent, logical way. It's not too long neither and has good examples and as such is a good bite-sized design guide!
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on 14 February 2006
Don't let the apparent simplicity of this book fool you. It's one of those little things that forever changes your worldview. Definitely aimed at people new to font, type and page layout (as I was) Robin knows how to communicate the essence of page design...in her own words, she's definitely teaching you how to handle the fishing rod! Even if you think you have a natural affinity for design, the teachings here really sharpens your eyes and offers a language to describe what you've always intuitively known. Her four basic principles (proximity, contrast, repetition, alignement) equip you to become a far better designer. Half way through the book I started to redesign even my resume...and improved it to no end! Thanks Robin.
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on 9 March 2010
I'm not a designer. That much is obvious from looking at the websites I produce that haven't been designed by someone else. That doesn't mean I don't care though; which is why on Christmas day last year I ordered this book.

I've only just got round to reading the book, but I'm glad I did. As a learning book it's deliberately quite lightweight and easy to get through in a short time, in the same way that Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" is designed to be absorbed in a couple of hours on a flight. All told, I spent about three hours with this book, on my tube journeys to and from work this week.

Robin starts her journey by briefly explaining the concepts of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity (anyone spot an acronym there?), before moving on to explore each concept in greater detail. As Robin repeatedly tells us in her book, by being able to name the concepts you're able to identify them and use them deliberately rather than accidentally.

The second half of the book deals with type; the different styles of typefaces, how to combine them and horrible errors of judgement to avoid.

Spread throughout the book are a bunch of mini quizzes and exercises designed to get you thinking about what you've just read. The quizzes are a nice touch, and I'm sure I've retained more knowledge because of them than I would have done if I'd just read through from cover to cover.

The book covers design in general, rather than being focused on the web, print or presentations. Whilst Williams has written a book called "The Non-Designer's Web Book" I specifically chose to buy this one because both I wanted a general overview book and because the web book is from 2005 (a lifetime ago on the web) and has some mixed reviews. "The Non-Designer's Design Book" did not disappoint - it's given me that overview that I was looking for, and I now feel a bit more comfortable that my designs will actually work.
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on 30 August 2007
Coming from a fine art background rather than graphic design, and having done design work for many people over the years, I have always had nagging doubts that I might be committing design crimes without realising it. Was I choosing the right typefaces? Was I striking the right balance between design and readability?
The answer is, that what has taken me many years to learn by trial and error, the author has condensed into a clear, easily understood, step-by-step read. It has also taught me quite a few tricks I had never considered.
You are taken through a series of single designs, looking at different aspect each time: Contrast, repetition, structure etc. and by the end you have a professional looking layout that can hold it's head up high.
Highly recommended as an easily digestible read for beginners, or others who just needed to know some of the important design rules without going too deep. Wish I'd read it years ago.
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on 29 June 1998
As a professional graphic designer at a community college in Maryland, I deal with VIPs (Visually Illiterate Person) every day. Whenever a non-designer co-worker asks for advice on a DTP project, I recommend this book. If they are in my office, I pull out my copy and SHOW them how good it is. This small, easy-to-read book communicates basic design principles clearly without using fancy jargon. The ample "before and after" examples speak volumes-- with a glance, the reader can see the difference between uninformed design and design with the basic principles used. Anyone who uses a computer for Desktop Publishing should be required to own this book! P.S. All of Robin's books are this good!
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on 10 February 1997
Trying to put together a professional-looking web site or other publication? Wondering why your stuff doesn't seem to grab the reader?
Read (it's VERY easy) Robin Williams' "The Non-Designer's Design Book". You'll find short, clear explanations of the major principles of quality layout and presentation, with PLENTY of examples. Also included is a fine introduction to typefaces and font terminology.
Exercises (with answers) help to drive the points home, and the excellent bibliography will lead you to more in-depth study.
As a Design novice (or, as Ms. Willams would label me, a "Visually Illiterate Person") I can't imagine a more gentle, informative, helpful or entertaining introduction to the topic. A MUST-READ for would-be web page artists!
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on 24 June 1997
This book is a true gem. It provides excellent help in the area of grahpic design for creating images that look good together. It also gives many hints on improving current grahpics. Rather than just providing pages of examples (like some books), this book provides simple and practical rules (in addition to examples which demonstrate the rules). In fact, the rules apply to more than just desktop publishing, but just about any area of design. Another plus, the book packs so much useful information in a concise, quickly readable format. Please note, this book is not a book on desktop publishing, and it does not teach you how to use a specific application (in fact, for the most part, this book, does not even assume you are using computers).
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on 12 April 2013
This has to be one of the best books I've read.

I'm a web developer (not designer at all) and after reading this book it's the first time I feel like I can actually design something because it tells you the principles of design in plain English and concentrates on making sure you can name these principles, as once you've named them you can understand and implement them.

There's no wishy washy arty design stuff in this, much more 'concrete' principles that are actually described and well defined.

If you're a developer who thinks you can't design because you don't have that 'flare' or creative spark (I was) then this will change that!

If you're interested in a more in-depth review here's a link to my blog:
[...]
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on 7 September 2003
A really useful and easy read. You don't feel you are being talked down to or that the author is trying to blind you with science. It carries you on a journey of learning. It won't make you a professional designer, but it teaches you to use CRAP(*) to make sure your designs aren't!
Robin is a brilliant communicator and you feel that she is there beside you helping you discover what makes good design. Lots of illustrations help get the points across.
(*) CRAP is the acronym for four key principles of design that are logically explained throughout the book. I won't steal Robin's thunder by saying what it stands for. You'll have to get the book for that. It's worth it.
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