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The Non-Designer's Design Book

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,127 ratings  ·  381 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 ...more
Paperback, 3rd edition, 215 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Peachpit Press
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Dominik Piotrowicz There are literally hundreds of examples and illustrationts of how to fix bad designs! And about the cover - it is really outdated, the 4th edition lo…moreThere are literally hundreds of examples and illustrationts of how to fix bad designs! And about the cover - it is really outdated, the 4th edition looks nothing like that so check it out.(less)
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☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
- The Joshua Tree Epiphany;
- Very interesting explanations of the WHY of how some things matter visually and work better, ultimately;
- Some very brilliant examples that give even to me, a steadfast adversary of trend aimed at 'making all the things look pretty', a thorough appreciation of properly formated text, grafics, infografics, etc;
- Tips and tricks! Very cool!

A must read for consultants, editors and other miserable beings driven professionals tasked with endless formatting!

Trevor (I no longer get notified of comments)
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
3.5 stars. I'm a self-taught graphic designer and I just found this book to be too basic. I was hoping for something a bit more in-depth. This covers beginner stuff.. like "hey, you should line everything up the same way on the page" and "don't overuse crazy fonts".

I'm not saying it's a bad book - in fact, if you're just starting out it's a great place to start, but it was just super basic/entry level.
Su Myint Myat Moe
simple and easy-to-read about fundamental concepts
Apr 04, 2013 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 09, 2010 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
Erika Williams
Jan 19, 2012 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
m a r y l i z
Read this for my graphic design class this fall! I loved the class, and this book definitely had some great design principles. I'll be keeping this one around for reference. Nothing earth-shattering in this book; it kind of just establishes the basics. (Sometimes it was even a little too basic, honestly.)

3 stars
May 20, 2015 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
Nelson Zagalo
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic, art
Simple, direct and highly effective in communicating minimum rules for good graphic design.
Clare Carter
I read this for class and it was fine...definitely more interesting than a lot of other textbooks I've read, so that's good! But still a book for school ya know ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-physical
A little outdated but the foundation topics still remain the same.
Akash Khandelwal
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, crisp, and delightful. The book provides concrete advice to beginners setting their foot into the world of design. While the principles might seem intuitive to many, the very act of their conscious acknowledgement helped improve how I think about design. The advice has been accompanied by relevant examples and is often presented in a witty conversational style.

Giving it 4 stars because the book is weak in certain segments (especially the chapter on Colors) and is slightly dated in its ex
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was very informative. Learned bunches!
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Lots of actionable takeaways
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Practical and informative, perfect for beginners.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want a crash course on why some things look better than others / how to not design your next event cover photo like a grandma, this is a must (and very easy) read.

Super practical principles that I will carry with me for the rest of my life (the primary four - CRAP acronym). Will work better if you are immediately applying the learning!
Jan 22, 2015 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
Jul 05, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
I had to read this book in one day for my technical writing class because my professor assigned the whole thing randomly and I hated every second of it. I'm so mad right now, I'm literally seething with rage as I type this. I hate this class. I guess you could say this book was CRAP. ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall very good, and exactly what it says on the tin: this is an overview and introduction, giving general principles and outlining the basics with lots of repetition. There was very little in here that was truly new to me, but it was still good to have it laid out in an organized way with some explanation. I will no doubt be more aware of things such as alignment, contrast, and typefaces in the future.

It's not perfect. There were a number of little issues for me, ranging from simple typos to
Francisco Garcia
Apr 09, 2015 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.

Michael Gaudet
This is a decent book about the basics of type faces in print media. I was expecting a more general treatment of color and “design” as described in the book’s description, even after reading the entire preview sample. My fault for not thoroughly reading the table of contents, I guess! Worst of all, this book almost entirely disregards non-print media (except for a short aside or two in the color section on RGB). If you’re like me looking for suggestions in web font choices, look somewhere else.

Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: textbooks, design
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
Ola Saqour
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book simplifies the main concepts of visual (graphic) design. It helped me a lot as a student in my first graphic design course and I recommend it for any newbie in the field. As it has a lot of examples that you can learn from, I agree with other reviewers that the book's examples are unattractive in their final form which is a flaw in my opinion, but maybe that is because the author's main focus is to deepen and strengthen the main concepts of design while keeping it simple. Finally,You c ...more
Elizabeth Rose
May 04, 2016 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
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.
Nov 22, 2008 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.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic for someone who has never read a design book in her life, like me. Incredibly practical and exactly what I needed - I often wind up designing fliers, cards, and small advertisements but I never had the slightest idea what I was doing. Now I feel mildly competent.
Jenny (rapid tortoise)
It's a life-saver for people who, like me, are visually challenged.
I devoured this book in two days, learned about 4 basic rules and designed 2 ads which I didn't hate (and that means a lot). Definitely a keeper, will be re-reading it soon.
Mary Catelli
Jul 22, 2014 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.
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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. Williams has also spent years studying William Shakespeare, and in 2006 issued her book Sweet Swan of Av ...more

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