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

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  2,541 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
A lot has happened in the world of digital design since the first edition of this title was published, but one thing remains true: There is an ever-growing number of people attempting to design pages with no formal training. This book is the one place they can turn to find quick, non-intimidating, excellent design help from trusted design instructor Robin Williams. This re ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published February 12th 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
Mar 05, 2008 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Thiago d'Evecque
Livro incrível de introdução ao design para pessoas leigas e sem nenhuma visão pra isso (eu). Tudo é tão didático que é impossível não aprender.

O principal do livro são os quatro princípios fundamentais do design: contraste, repetição, alinhamento e proximidade. Conceitos que eu não fazia ideia mas que, depois de explicados, parecem uma questão de bom senso.

A quantidade de detalhes é o bastante para conhecermos o assunto e não tornar o livro maçante, específico demais. Williams ensina sobre quai
Dec 09, 2013 Quan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2010 Reid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

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
Apr 09, 2015 Francisco Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

May 20, 2015 Jerzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Erika Williams
Jan 20, 2012 Erika Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth Rose
May 16, 2016 Elizabeth Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Non-Designer's Design Book is of immense practical value to anyone who doesn't have formal training in the field of design. This volume focuses on graphic design, devoting about half of the book to a study of typeface. There is enough information here to orientate someone with no concept of design (like me), but this Williams makes no pretense of this being a master class.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who lacks a degree in art, but has to make their own business cards, fliers, or b
Aug 15, 2016 BHodges rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny that such a great design book could have such an ugly cover. The cover on my edition is much better.

Robin's book covers the basics of design in an easy-to-read style. I've already noticed a big difference in my projects.
José Luis Sánchez
Leida la traducción al español titulada 'Diseño gráfico' editado por Anaya Multimedia. Un libro claro, ameno y que expone la materia de manera magistral.
R.E.S. Tidmore
May 28, 2016 R.E.S. Tidmore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have read in a long time. The information I have learned is already being applied in my promotional material for writing events. I am so glad I found this book.
Jan 19, 2016 Moe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
simple and easy-to-read about fundamental concepts
Aizhan Kimanova
Oct 12, 2016 Aizhan Kimanova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Книжный вызов. Книга 20 – Дизайн книга для недизайнеров
Эту книгу должен прочитать каждый, кто так или иначе сталкивается с продвижением себя, компании, своего бизнеса, своих проектов и идей. Автор Робин Уильямс предупреждает, что после прочтения этой книги «вы больше никогда не будете смотреть на страницы, как раньше». Я 100% подтверждаю, что это правда!
Прочитав эту книгу, я каждую страницу, буклет, журнал, визитку, сайт, баннер, рекламу оцениваю в соответствии с принципами, которые описала в эт
Jacqueline O.
Jan 23, 2015 Jacqueline O. rated it liked it  ·  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
Rhiannon Root
Jun 10, 2016 Rhiannon Root rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not everyone is meant to be a designer, but you can still make your projects look neat and professional. Enter: “The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and typographic principles for the visual novice” fourth edition by Robin Williams. This no-nonsense, but cheerful little book will help you learn how to design things better.

The book goes through the four principles of design as well as typography and color. Williams effectively uses examples and shows you how to improve the flawed projects. (Ex
Jenn Wells
Not a fan. It started out alright but gradually it went from "I guess that's her humor" to "is this author for real?" She names principles after herself, tells you not to be a wimp more times than I can count, and generally sounds a bit conceited.

I was also not a fan of many of the design examples. I'm not sure if it was just to emphasize the principles she was talking about but the examples pushed it to such an extreme it wasn't always a practical or attractive layout anymore. Her type choices
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
Nov 22, 2008 Mindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Murilo Andrade
Apr 18, 2016 Murilo Andrade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_2016, design
I loved this book. As a non-designer myself, I fit well in the title's description =)

The book is very easy to read, full of examples, generally following the pattern: wrong example, followed by possible manners to improve it. There aren't many exercises, but I particularly was more interested by the examples.

It starts with an anecdote, which the author calls the Joshua Tree Epiphany, where she describes an episode when she was a child she identified a weird-looking tree in a book, the Joshua tre
Apr 10, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lidos-em-2015
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!
Mary Catelli
Jun 28, 2016 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-other
A book I've found useful in designing both webpages and book covers.

Covers a great many issues in how to organize and display your material for most impact. Without reference to its content, which once or twice tweaked me as a little excessive. Particular attention paid to fonts.
Feb 16, 2016 Hillarie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To be more accurate, I'd give it 2.5.

I read this for a class last year and recently reread it. I'm not sure why the professor assigned it, as the information is basic. I'm also not sure why I decided to reread this during work, but I did. Here we are.

If you truly don't understand the basics of design, this book is a great start. I have three major problems with the book:

1. Williams comes off as condescending to her readers.
2. This book drags out. I understand that it helps to give specific exam
Jul 23, 2014 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chelsea (Books for Thought)
A little outdated but the foundation topics still remain the same.
Jul 08, 2015 Byrne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was on my Amazon wishlist for about a decade before I finally sprang for it.

The good: great, memorable summary of design principles. Lots of decent before/after comparisons (although the "after" is never *that* great)

Bad: author's voice is chirpy to the point of being annoying. Lots of the designs are kind of small-business-y, in a way that's not bad unless you're not trying to be a small business.

Overall, wish I'd read to sooner, but not the last design book anyone should read.
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
Aug 27, 2007 kareem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2011 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
« 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 »
  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
  • Before and After: How to Design Cool Stuff
  • User Interface Design for Programmers
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
  • Designing Web Usability
  • Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • The Information Design Handbook
  • Designing With Web Standards
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Bulletproof Web Design: Improving Flexibility and Protecting Against Worst-Case Scenarios with XHTML and CSS
  • Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
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...

Share This Book

“Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You’re in control. You own it.” 0 likes
More quotes…