Wow, this is a fun book. If you spend a lot of time on Web design and suffer occasional burnout, Fresh Styles
is the inspiration booster shot you need to get you back to the keyboard to whip up something new. Perhaps you'd like to try "gothic organic" or "pixelated punk"? Author Curt Cloninger, who's written for the Web developer forum Alistapart.com
, defines 10 "underground" Web styles using case studies of several Web sites, and discovers what makes them not just cutting edge but marketable, too. These site designs not only mimic print design, but embrace the medium of the Web with all its flaws (browser incompatibilities, sluggish download times, varying viewer operating systems, and screen resolutions).
All 10 of the design styles discussed in this book sprang from a dissatisfaction with the status quo, a love of the Web as a medium, and a passion for evocative, communicative design.
With such fun chapters as "1950s Hello Kitty Style" and "Paper Bag Style," hundreds of screenshots, and techniques for achieving these looks, Fresh Styles isn't just an inspiring kick in the pants but a cookbook/resource as well. Not everything here conforms to usability wisdom; for example, pages may not bookmark because they're in designer-defined pop-up windows or the entire site is one big Flash file. But the author encourages readers to go beyond the universally practical: "Go ahead and fiddle while Rome burns."
There are ideas here you may never have thought of using. The 8-bit gifs in the "SuperTiny SimCity Style" are the opposite of most designers' layered Photoshop creations. A link points to the perfect Web tutorial on how to get them right. For the "Lo-Fi Grunge Style," think Raygun, complete with TV scan-line effects and "that smudged, misprinted look." A sidebar shows how to mimic a noisy TV signal by placing scan-line patterns on their own Photoshop layer.
Grooviness is what this book is all about: groovy narrative, groovy illustrations, and a groovy layout by Carlos Segura. It's got a good vibe that makes you think that the future of the Web may not be so bleak after all. --Angelynn Grant
From the Back Cover
In a light and friendly voice, the author introduces the reader to new ways of styling websites. With specific examples for each of ten categories, he provides a wealth of techniques for the designer who wishes to apply these approaches in their own work. The styles are broken down into ten categories, which are:
* Gothic Organic School
* Wireframe Icon School
* Lo-fi Grunge School
* Paper Bag School
* Mondrian Poster School
* Pixelated Punk Rock School
* 1950's Hello Kitty School
* HTMinimaLism School
* DraftingTable/Instruction Manual School
Super Tiny SimCity School Further explorations in the book help designers determine which style choices would be most appropriate when changing the look of their own sites.