Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Non-Designer's Design Book ” as Want to Read:
The Non-Designer's Design Book
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Non-Designer's Design Book

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,946 ratings  ·  188 reviews
Fatbrain Review Most experienced designers agree: though HTML offers unlimited opportunities to present information, it is a lousy place to learn design techniques, and all too often publishers let HTML limitations dictate pages that are ugly, boring and difficult to use. Don't be boxed in by HTML -- set your creativity free by learning basic design principles to use in c ...more
Paperback, 3rd edition, 215 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Peachpit Press (first published July 1st 1994)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Non-Designer's Design Book, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Non-Designer's Design Book

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I read this book about a year ago and I’m going to complain about it first, and then rave about it.


Some of the text inside is too faint – it is actually quite difficult to read.

Some of her ‘examples’ look quite unattractive even when they are ‘finished’.


This is a very clever book. If you are visually hopeless, like myself, it talks you through what to look for in step by step, no assumptions. This is a book that explains both the four elements of visual design (I’ll get to that

This book succeeds in fulfilling its promise: educating visual novices about design and typographic principles. It's remarkable to me that this book works so well when I've seen others fall flat (I'm looking at you, Nancy Duarte!) in educating a beginner audience about design principles. It's especially impressive when you figure in the fact that this book is not very long or slickly produced. Hell, it's not even in color! But I think this is a part of Williams' success. The book's message is si
Francisco Garcia
As a software developer I feel identified with designers. In our natural form we tend to "derail" into building something amazing and not so much into something useful or market ready.

The problem tends to be fixed with maturity, but only after lots of interactions with people having other skill sets.

This is a great book to start the foundations that a non designer should have when talking to a designer. You will learn about core issues that should be discussed, but only the very basic ones.

The Non-Designer's Design Book was clearly written by a non-writer. I'm not a designer so I won't dispute the validity of what the author, Robin P. Williams, teaches. But getting through this book is just so excruciating because her writing is so amateur. She's a writer in the most basic sense of the word: she knows words and knows that sentences usually need a subject and predicate. That's about as far as her skill extends.

One of my biggest critiques is that Williams writes in a vacuum. She wri
This is quite possibly the best graphic design book I have read. The first part teaches you the four basic principles of design, CRAP. Or contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. It gives a clear overview of each concept and then provides examples of when it is working and when it is failing. It also asks you to actively get involved, not by pointing out all the errors, but by asking you to look for them yourself. Once the four basic principles have been detailed, it moves on to an equall ...more
Chelsea (Books for Thought)
A little outdated but the foundation topics still remain the same.
Very accessible intro for beginners. I always thought you "just have to have an eye for good design" as if it were an inborn trait... but of course there are principles you can learn, and this book strikes me as a good place to begin.

There are plenty of before-vs-after examples, which works really well for me: showing exactly how each principle can be applied.

Some of the "after" examples are still cheesy---but at least they are cleaner and more consistent than "before," and I think that's the po
Jacqueline O.
Jan 23, 2015 Jacqueline O. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Graphic Design Students
I bought this book for an advanced Technical Writing class, then ironically had to drop the class because I got a full-time job. I just picked up the book again and read it all the way through.
The good points - this is a quick and breezy book with a lot of examples. I felt most of the examples clearly illustrated the points that the author, an experienced graphic designer, was trying to make.
The bad points - the section on website design was extremely out of date. Recent research on how people u
Felipe Farias
Is a really nice book, the way it is organized, is very didactic. It start talking about the four basic principles of design: proximity, alignment, repetition and contrast. Always using real examples. The other stage of the book is about typography, explaining in detail about types with or without serif. As the title already explains, is a book for beginners. If you are just beginning to study design, I recommend this book.
Yevgeniy Brikman
A delightful book full of concrete, actionable advice that is perfect for amateurs that want to improve their design skills. This book won't make you a professional designer, but it gives you a vocabulary for thinking about fundamental design principles, including colors, fonts, alignment, repetition, contrast, and proximity. The book includes many examples that show how you can use each of these principles to improve a design step by step. By the time you're done, you've trained your eye a bit, ...more
This books proves that you don't know what you don't know until you know it! :)
I will never look at a page of print with the same eyes again.
This easy to read and humorous book taught me enough to just be dangerous with fonts and contrast and colors.
But seriously a few hours reading has immensely improved the look of the documents that I prepare for work, school and my personal stuff.
This is a great book and should be on every designer's shelf. The explanation of design fundamentals is clear enough for the beginner, and it is easy to read; devoid of technical jargon.

Ms. Williams breaks design down to four basic principles - proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast - and explains how they can be put to work, enabling the budding designer to notch things up right away. She explains why they work and gives excellent examples to illustrate her points. Fonts used in the exa
Henri Hämäläinen
This book had been a long time in my reading list. I've wanted to read The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin P. Williams for few years already. I've read some design books before and customer experiences are also my favorite work subject. Design is such a big part of experiences, that I've wanted to learn much more about that subject for some time.

I had read so many good reviews about the book, that expectations towards the book was high. When I received the book and started scim the book thro
original review:

I have no idea why I picked this up well over a year ago, but I'm glad I finally found the time (read: about an hour) to read it. It gives an overview of basic design principles, easily remembered using the mnemonic C.R.A.P. (for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity). What I found most interesting, however, were the chapters on typography.

I'm consistently amazed by the designers that I work with who are easibly able to identify a
Wow! This book is very easy to read and full of good ideas for considering the effects of visual choices (font size/style, color, organization, etc.) on communication. I found myself much more aware of options in the texts I viewed after I read it--and more willing to consider choices in the texts I create. I will definitely bring this into lessons that deal with written communication since even a traditionally-styled piece of writing says something with its font choices, white space, etc. In to ...more
Can you tell when graphic design is awful, but you can't quite put your finger on why? Do you find yourself trying to create flyers or posters that just seem...bland? This book is a super-fast run through of the very basic elements of graphic design. It's not a substitute for design school--it's not meant to be. But for all of us who can't afford to hire a graphic designer for every piece of design work we need done, this is a fantastic manual that covers everything from alignment to color theor ...more
Neat little book!

It starts from the fundamentals (proximity, alignment, repetition and contrast), with lots of examples, then proceed to teach about a few color principles and typography. I found the bad-vs-good examples very helpful to learn how to improve things that aren't that great yet.

Although I'm not a professional graphic designer, I think what I learned here will help me do better in all those little things I do every now and then: reports, presentations, blog posts, probably even my em
Julie Bozza
It does what it says on the tin! An excellent introduction to the principles of design and typography for anyone wondering where to start - or indeed for anyone needing to clarify why some things work, and what to do about the things that don't.

Update: I bought this, The Non-Designer's Type Book and The Non-Designer's Web Book all together. Not sure if that was the author's intent, but there you are.

I've now read them all, and found them all useful in different ways. But this is the one I found
O livro é super legal pra quem não tem nenhuma noção de design, como eu, haha. Foi uma leitura que precisei fazer para a aula de Editoração Eletrônica, e me ajudou muito a pensar melhor na hora de diagramar as coisas.

A escrita é bem didática, bem leve e fácil de ler. E os exemplos ajudam muito a visualizar o que a autora está ensinando. Adorei o livro!
Yousef Shanti
This book convinced me that anyone can go about writing a book and have a "best seller" badge on the cover.
The author focused too much on self-promotion and attributed common-sense rules and laws to her self.

Bottom line: this book is for absolute novices and the visual examples will prove it.

Jeffery Moulton
This book is full of crap. Well, make that, C.R.A.P. Okay, I'm almost certainly not the first to make that particular joke, but I couldn't resist.

This book is a legend in design circles (which I observe only from the periphery). It simplified design to a few basic principles (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity) and made those principles accessible to everyone, even people who have no design experience or even talent. That is what makes this book exceptional.

I use this book in my tech
Steve Morey
A fine book introducing some basic rules about Graphic design.

The first half of the book takes you through 4 simple rules to apply to all your design work. Delivered with a simple and easy to remember acronym. I can testify that applying these rules does make a difference to even the simplest of documents that you may create. the first half is worth the price alone.

The second half deals with type and needs more thought to apply and as such is a little heavier going and is more difficult to app
Bulent Duagi
The book presents 4 basic design principles: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity.
It also has lots of examples and exercises, useful for training one's visual literacy.

Recommended especially for non-designers, it will most probably add new perspectives in how you see the (graphic) designs around you.
Ionut Maxim
Awesome and painlessly intro into the graphic design world, great if you plan to sketch a poster, business card or got started in web design.

I had the courage to recommend it to newbies and non-designers and they found it clear, concise and accessible.
Derek Baldwin
Easy to flick through over a day or two, picking out the most important bits, the bits I already knew but had forgotten I knew, and so on. Loses marks for Mac-centricity and over-use of the word dorky (possibly a link there).

Dorkily, Derek (non Mac owner)
Jun 16, 2008 Martha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: editors/writers who do design/layout tasks for newsletters, web sites, house ads, etc.
The cover design is a little blah, but don't let that put you off. This is a great book for any nondesigner who find him or herself required to do graphic-design tasks, whether it's because their job description is expanding into areas that require a bit of design knowledge or they have volunteered to lay out their local PTA newsletter. You probably won't become a professional graphic designer as a result of reading this book but it quickly gets you up to speed on important basics that will impr ...more
Delivers on the promise of its title, showing a non-designer how proper use of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity can make pages easier to read and understand. All carefully explained, and lavishly illustrated with examples,

A few more of the many useful things I learned from reading this:

The difference between conflict and contrast.

Just Say No to Times, Helvetica and Arial.

For best readability in body copy, use a classic oldstyle serif face such as Garamond, jenson, Caslon, Minion, or
A great book for anyone who would like a bit more design theory to spruce up their work without delving too deep into the field. Some of the examples in the book seem a bit dated but the theory behind them is timeless and incredibly helpful to get you into a designer mindset with your projects.
An excellent introduction to design principles (contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity) with lots of examples for practical application. I will be designing my next business cards differently.

There's also a section on designing with type. Some of the type stuff I didn't agree with, but I think that has more to do with my disinclination to use certain type categories than a flaw in the theory.

I would've liked more examples relating to web sites since I don't have a lot of print needs for news
This is the best design book for non-professionals that I've come across. Williams does a fantastic job, both through text and imagery, of explaining her four basic principles for good design -- contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. Her advice can be applied to all forms of visual communication, including forms you wouldn't necessarily think of before reading this book. She didn't write more than she needs to, instead letting example images do much of the teaching.

You'll never look at
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
  • The Information Design Handbook
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
  • User Interface Design for Programmers
  • Designing for the Social Web
  • The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
  • Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems
  • Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design
  • Visual Thinking for Design
  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • Designing Interactions [With CDROM]
Robin P. Williams is an American writer of computer-related books. She is particularly known for her manuals of style The Mac is Not a Typewriter and The Non-Designer's Design Book, as well as numerous manuals for various Mac OS operating systems and applications, including The Little Mac Book.

More about Robin P. Williams...
The Non-Designer's Web Book The Non-Designer's Design & Type Books, Deluxe Edition The Mac is Not a Typewriter The Non-Designer's Type Book  The Non-Designer's Presentation Book: Principles for Effective Presentation Design

Share This Book