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Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
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Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  5,124 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Whether a marketing campaign or a museum exhibit, a video game or a complex control system, the design we see is the culmination of many concepts and practices brought together from a variety of disciplines. Because no one can be an expert on everything, designers have always had to scramble to find the information and know-how required to make a design work - until now.

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Hardcover, 216 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Rockport Publishers
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 ·  5,124 ratings  ·  143 reviews


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Always Pouting
Boring and redundant, all this information is easily accessible online and most of it is so obvious and intuitive to begin with. It didn't even need to be a whole book most of the principals build on top of one another, easily could be reduced down to like five pages maybe.

John
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I learned *so* much from this book. It gave names to things I had "felt" before about design, taught me a bunch of new things, and reinforced the little I already knew about design.

Highly recommended.
Ryan Price
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only the most useful book I have ever read. Lots of things you may have heard of, applied to modern examples from the world of design - not graphic design, not architecture, not web design or product design, but just plain old design.

The Rule of Thirds, the 80/20 Rule, the Golden Ratio, Okkham's Razor and so many more great articles, and the "links" at the bottom of every page really inspired me to want to include related information everywhere I present text.
Anthoney
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I feel Designing is a more an applied branch of Psychology then just being about aesthetic, and this book has convinced me all the more. The book by itself so wonderfully realizes all the concepts of designing and to design, in its own format, structure and presentation, that the book's presentation itself can serve as one of the example on a great design. Each design principles are elaborated so clearly, lucidly, concisely with the relevant examples, and then summarised, all of these in just on ...more
Adam Norwood
Dec 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: design, web-design
The alphabetic, single-page-per-topic presentation kept the content simple enough for a wide audience to understand, but it also felt like a hindrance (and perhaps the magic number of '100' was also a contrivance, but maybe that's just coincidence). Some of the entries felt like duplicates, using the same clip art as examples or the same phrasing between topics. Overall it felt like the book needed an editor to enforce better consistency -- after reading the various entries I could pick out the ...more
Tedb0t
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: designers / makers
Recommended to Tedb0t by: Saw it in an art supply store
Shelves: design
This is a great resource for any kind of designer, especially of the interaction, interface or industrial sorts. It consists of 100 fundamental concepts common to all matters of design, such as the 80/20 rule, Hick's law, Ockham's razor, mapping, etc.. Nicely typeset and layed out, with simple, effective diagrams for pretty much every concept. Highly recommended for people who like to make things both look and work really, really well.
Mara
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I go back to this book again and again whenever I feel stalled out.

It's easy for design to get overwhelming- or maybe that's just me, but, in any event, this book is a fantastic resource to page through when you have what I think of as the opposite of designer's block. With so many innovations in programming, UX, design and information architecture coming out all of the time it's easy to lose a sense of how to make things just "feel right." This book is a great way to get back to the basics of
...more
Dave
Jun 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone working in technology
Shelves: business-work
I think this could actually benefit anyone who works with or presents information, but it should make a solid impact for software designers. They should have this in every bathroom in every software company on the planet -- great for just perusing. Any page of this book contains at least one really good idea for improving something you work with. The layout and graphics are (as expected) stellar.
Mohammad Shaker
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
A less joyful review compared to 2 years ago. The book is a very good intro to the crossway between design, behaviour and psychology.

"cracking book! I can read 1000 more pages of this one. Absolute joy while reading it. Surely a reference book that I'll get back to again and again."
Scott
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
Fantastic reference for all designers to keep on their desk. I especially like the question-based reference guide (located just after the table of contents) - this helps guide your study of the principles taught in the book.
iniputi
Finally finish this book after abandoning it for so long!

Filled with many principles of design, it is just what i am looking for in such a book. However, some of the explanation of these principles are hard to understand for me. I found myself doze off on the explanation at the end of the explanation, and had to re-read the explanation a few times. Maybe because i am not a native english speakers, eh?

I count the first read of the book as an action to familiarize myself with these principles. Wi
...more
Kerri Grier
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
Incredibly informative reference material on design principles. I really liked how each principle was laid out. The table of contents were also laid out in multiple ways depending on how you wanted to use the book which was a thoughtful touch. Some of the images were pretty dated though - it'd be nice if they came out with a revised/updated edition!
Roxanna López
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

This book is full of fascinating and useful information. I only found one example that was not well explained and one huge misinterpretation of evolutionary theory which detracted from the quality of the book. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.
Ben Haley
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
UPD is a short read and if you are doing creative work, it will inspire you.

UPD is a sort of design dictionary, devoting 2 pages to over 100 major design concepts covering a breadth of subjects including psychological traits like cognitive dissonance, design techniques like prototyping, and user interface principals like the signal-to-noise ratio.

Each definition includes a description of the principle, guidelines on how it is applied, and picture based examples of the principle in action. I foun
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Scuppers
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, to-get
Universal Principles of Design reminds me of a book I had when I was younger that had different letters of the alphabet and big, glossy pictures of things starting with that letter.

As with the alphabet book, I'm not sure how comprehensive or useful "Universal Principles" would be as a reference to everything you might expect to ever see, (it's not an encyclopedia or even a dictionary), but the pictures are cool, and the content's interesting.
Beth
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love the density and efficiency of this book. On-page discussions of design ideas that are relevant to all aspects of design... graphic design, industrial design, systems, curriculum planning. It has cross-references to related topics within the book. I pick it up just to charge my brain sometimes
Savina
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book! One of the only textbooks to ever hold my attention so tightly that I almost missed my trainstop reading it. A great blend of useful tips and the psychology/design principles behind them. I will be keeping this on my shelf for a long time to come.
Nick
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An elegant, useful compendium of principles of design and thinking.
Maria Cerase
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simple and clear. A breeze to read and also full of relevant real life examples of applied design principles.
Jacob McLaws
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
Finally finished this one. Packed full of good stuff. A great read for any designer.
Oliver Leventhal
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Universal Principles of Design" by William Lidwell is easily one of the best books on all kinds of design I have ever read. It is simple, informative, and straight-forward. Each page has its own unique design principle, and contains an easy to understand summary for the rule. The book provides examples that illustrate the principles in practice, giving the reader an idea as to how to use these concepts. When I picked up this book I thought it was going to be uninteresting; however, I quickly re ...more
Samuel Oktavianus
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Universal Principles of Design is a reference book containing hundreds of design principles—from psychological biases to visual theory—presented in alphabetical order. Since this is a reference book, you can navigate to your preferred section easily. Every section/principles have real-life examples, useful tips & gorgeous illustration (although it's a little dated since the book is published back in 2003).

On the contrary, I believe that most of the "principles" in the book are superficial for ex
...more
Oz
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Topic: Usability Laws + Design Principles

Why Read It: Gives you ammo for design debates, rationalizes design decisions

When to Read it: When you doubt the usability of your product or a particular feature

Make no mistake that this is a reference book. Hop around the book and dip into the sections or laws that are relevant to you. And then feel more confident when you can rationalize your designs :)

I almost don’t want to share this book because it is the secret weapon of some of the best UX Designe
...more
Jean Bitežnik
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book for designers of all trades.

The book is structured in alphabetical order, each chapter explains one principle and gives an explanation + a (well) known example for each design principle.

The one tip I would have if you're a designer is not to read it page to page (as I did) but go through parts that interest you or that are relevant to your current project so you can absorb information better. I took the time to read it and tried to think of my own examples for each principle and wher
...more
Mandy
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent presentation of 125 principles of design with tables of contents organized alphabetically and by the type of problem you're trying to solve. Each principle is presented in a spread with an explanation on the left page (with references for further reading) and with examples of the principle (with great captions) on the right. I read the book cover to cover (so alphabetically) and will hang on to it as a reference for problem solving.
Li Li
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-development
Very useful book if you want to get an overview of design principles.

Quite some ideas you might be familiar with, but when summarizes into principle, they become simple and comprehensible.

A great introduction and index-like book for everyone who wants to understand what design principle is.
Praveen Sinha
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was a collection of principles from various subjects of economics, architecture , psychology. In essence design does include those principles. However, giving a list of tools in the hands of a person does not help in utilising them in a meaningful manner in the process of creating a solution. It is not much of a help in the era of always on internet connectivity.
Stefan
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather splendid collection of buzzwords you might get to become familiar before chatting with aspiring UX designer, product manager, architect, most of the critics, etc. A few surprises, a few bit outdated behavioural models, but overall a great book, check out http://universalprinciplesofdesign.com too ...more
Emanuel Serbanoiu
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a really great resource and I got to read it at right time in my design career. It helped me understand a lot of principles and got to see how to use some others that I knew about in the context of design. I would recommend keeping this close because it will help consolidate design decisions.
Jb
Good overview, and great pointers. Examples are good too, although sometimes a bit hard to get.
Some concepts overlap.
No recap of multiple principles on some examples. Could have been useful.
Marked ~40 principles that are essential to my j0b as product manager. However, no big discoveries or true guidelines. Simply confirming what I observed already.
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