Customer Reviews: Universal Principles of Design
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on December 15, 2003
This is the **most essential design book** I've had the pleasure of learning from. If there was only one book I could only recommend to design students or for client education, this would be it! The organization of the book follows it's own principles, the content is specific and accurate, and it cites and gives credit where due (also promoting deeper study of a subject/concept). I truly value it because of the quality summaries of design principles I've learned elsewhere consolidated into one book. The ONLY thing I would change about the book is to use a Serif typeface on the body texts for better readability.
Excellent writing, excellent topical content, and excellent diagrams and examples.
My compliments to the authors, as well as Rockport (whose books I usually despise for lacking substance despite their nice graphics).
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on July 27, 2004
The problem, it seems, as manifested by places like The Design Museum, is that the concept 'design' has become equated with appearance. This narrow perspective allows designers to shirk the responsibilities they have to end users in the design process. All too often a newly graduated designer will seek to stamp their personality or ideas on a product, flagrantly disregarding the basic principles of design.

In one fell swoop, this book destroys any excuses designers may have. It is itself an elegant, highly accessible and successful example of good design. Each concept is covered in narrative, by reference and by example(s).

From Occam's Razor, Affordability, Hick's Law to many areas not immediately obvious, the breadth of the book is wonderful, and no subject is anything other than easily understood.

This coverage is no mean effort, and the beneficiaries cross all industries.

Mandatory reading and reference for anyone who calls themselves a designer.
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on August 1, 2004
This isn't a book about design, it's a collection of distinctions revealing the human experience. I've already used many of them to improve my marketing materials, my websites, how I speak to clients, and how I relate to the world. It's a just a wonderful ontological exploration. The wonderful references alone justify the cover price.
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on April 12, 2004
---"The best designers sometimes disregard the principles of design. When they do so, however, there is usually some compensating merit attained at the cost of the violation. Unless you are certain of doing as well, it is best to abide by the principles" from the Introduction.--- Really a cross reference whether you are designing for screen, print or industry, to tune and power up your designs. Simple 100 design principles laid and explained clearly by example. You will be amazed how instantly it works out. But if you are looking for an inspiration look for other items like "Big Book of Design Ideas"
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on December 16, 2003
This is one of the best books I've seen lately, combining theory from usability, perception and design. The book consists of small explanatory texts on the left pages, with examples on the right. The chapters of the book are in an alphabetical order; this means for instance that principles from the Gestalt Psychology are devided over different chapters (closure, constancy, good continuation etc.) However, on the bottom of every page is a 'hyperlink' to related chapters. To categorize the chapters the book has a categorical table of contents, with categories like perception, learnability, usability, appeal and design decisions. Students from technical courses, to whom I showed the book, immediately liked it.
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on January 16, 2004
Much of Universal Principles of Design lacks depth. The reason for this is that the text needed more colloboration than it appears to have asorbed. For something that aspires to be a sort of objective compendium, the topics (and particularly the examples used) are grounded firmly within the author's sphere of knowledge. I correctly guessed both where the authors lived as well as their occupations long before I had finished reading merely because they use so many examples from Houston and software. Unfortunately, this lack of research and colloboration outside of the two authors and their own knowledge creates a shallow, uninformed book.
Universal Principles of Design is far less academic and objective than it proports. For example, if I had based one of my principles on an example I would have researched it beyond merely using internet heresay (DVORAK v. QWERTY, for example). That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, as the text itself is neat, modernist, clean and is, at times, interesting and informative. However, Universal Principles of Design lacks the academic depth needed for usability and never extends beyond introductions and formalities. The book is something that aspires to belong more on the coffee table as a chic relic of interest in design than as a usable, practical text to earmark, underline in, and really utilize as a day to day guidebook.
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on June 17, 2010
The Kindle version is from 2003 and has 100 principles. The latest 2010 version is in hardcover and has 125 principles. I wanted the Kindle version so that I could search, highlight and create notes electronically. I was disappointed to discover the Kindle version was not also the latest version. I now own both :|
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on September 23, 2005
I'm a senior in a Visual Communications and Design program. One of my professors highly recommended this book, so I decided to buy it after looking at the price here on Amazon. I didn't know what to expect.

I was greeted with nice satin-finish hardcover with no dust jacket (I dislike those anyway). When I opened the book, I noticed that each spread is completely new principle of design. The right panel has amazing illustrations or photographs VISUALLY explaining each principle, while the left panel explained the principle in a way that I have a new level of understanding and presented in a way that makes me appreciate all the genres of design (from Architecture to product design to marketing). As if this was not enough, each article has references to the complete "seminal" work that started this principle and usually a more up-to-date reference that explores this principle in today's world.

I join along with my Professor, BUY this book. You will be gaining such a treasuretrove of knowledge that my four year degree has only taught me to appreciate and learn. This is concise stuff that runs the gamut and I am finding exceedingly practical. If there can be a book where all you need is right here, then this is it.

When I become a professor, years down the road, this will be a mandatory book for all design students.
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on March 20, 2007
A well thought-out work, with concise topics covered on each page. More of a reference work than a "how-to" book, but if there is a topic in design in which you are interested, this book will give you a great start.

My quibble, mentioned before by some others, is that the body text is done in a very small, light gray, sans serif font. To be honest, this is very hard to read, with my failing eyes. I am not sure why a book discussing the core elements of visual communication would be printed in a way that the content could not be read....
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on December 16, 2006
The title makes it clear this is not an in-depth treatise, but an overview. As such, the marginal references are excellent launching points for deeper research on any of the principles.

I'm also using it as a sort of checklist for design, watching for the application of these overarching concepts in whatever I'm creating. As a web designer, programmer, song-writer, and fiction writer, the concepts have application in virtually everything I design.
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