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The state of web design education is improving but there always seems to be a gap in our industry between curriculum and employment. The topics covered in this book help bridge that gap, providing a solid, essential foundation for any aspiring web professional. Whether you teach web designers, want to be a web designer, or just want to make sure you're up to speed, I highly recommend this book....Read more
In many ways, Curt Cloninger's newest book is the antithesis of my own. He states this clearly just a few pages into the first chapter: "There are two basic ways to teach design. The first is to teach general fundamental principles, follow them step-by-step, and let the specific visual aesthetics arise from the principles. The second is to show samples and examples--to begin with a bunch of visual examples of work, and then work backward to distill the basic principles."
Cloninger goes on to explain how his book takes the samples and examples approach but that both should be used in conjunction with each other. I whole-heartedly agree. The Web Designer's Idea Book also takes the learning by example approach, but the difference is that Fresher Styles intentionally side steps mainstream design patterns to focus on the counterculture and design outliers of the web.
There are 8 distinct styles that Curt introduces and characterizes in the book: "No Style, Late(st) Modern Style, Psychedelic Minimalist Style, Dot Matrix Style, 1996 Dirt Style, Corkboard Sprawl Style, Fullscreen Fashion Style & Hand-Drawn Analog Style". If you think this list sounds a bit absurd, you should know that he admittedly left out "1970s Dayglow Vector Style, Dusty Cowboy Style & Chrome Sheen". The purpose of this distinctly idiosyncratic taxonomy isn't to canonize the web; it's simply a quirky, off-the-cuff lens through which new design ideas can be discussed and digested.
This combination of unusual design examples and curious categorization is certainly deliberate, as is the psychedelic design of the book's cover. The intention is not to teach tried-and-true design technique, to make you a more efficient designer, or even to showcase the latest trends. Instead, Cloninger aims to invoke thought and avoid what he describes as inbreeding among web designers. The problem is that the circle of influence through which individuals become web professionals is a rather narrow one. We all learn by the same popular tutorials and we all align our work to the archetype designs of the industry. This book will force you to think outside this tiny box, simply by showing you that there is no box.
For a little more information about each of the styles, check out Curt Cloninger's quirky promo site, which I would guess falls into the Psychedelic Minimalist Style: [...]
As a web design author, I often get asked what books I recommend. This of course depends on who is asking and what they want to learn, but one book I often pass along is Curt Cloninger's original* Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground from 2001. The specific design examples are quite outdated now, but to me, that book was a pivotal source of inspiration at a time when everything online seemed to be either boringly corporate or awkwardly amateur. Cloninger helped me to see the web differently; I learned to creatively tag design trends and techniques so that I could mentally catalog them for my own use.
This process of mentally classifying design inspiration has become a critical part of my growth as a designer as well as my ability to explain web design to the non-designer. In The Web Designer's Idea Book, Patrick McNeil takes the task of cataloging current trends and styles to a meticulous new level. Within the book's 256 pages, McNeil has sorted over 700 screenshots of stellar site design by color, design style, type, theme, element and structure. Within these 6 chapters, he has defined a total of 75 individual design categories. Some examples of these categories include: Blogs, E-Commerce, Minimalist, Wood, Pink & Blue, Muted, Rays, Gradients, Tabs and Massive Footers. Then, within each of these seemingly exclusive categories there are a few paragraphs explaining when, how, and why it should be used along with an average of 8 or 9 example screenshots.
Obviously, reading this book will not teach you to be a great website designer. What it will do is expand your design vocabulary and train you to break down your favorite sources of design inspiration into bite-sized chunks that you can use in your own work. I spent a good portion of the cold, rainy weekend reading through the text in each category and pouring over the pages of screenshots. I saw quite a few familiar examples of good design, but was amazed by quantity of inspirational sites that I had never heard of. If I had one complaint about the book it would be that I wish all of the screenshots were full-size, or perhaps if they couldn't be, that there was an archive of the full-size screenshots posted somewhere on the web. Regardless, I'm sure the book will be a huge source of inspiration for me for years to come. Then, when it is too old to serve as inspiration, it will most certainly be an excellent resource for web design history.
* As I was writing this review, I discovered that Curt Cloninger just released a sequel to this book: Fresher Styles for Web Designers: More Eye Candy from the Underground You can be sure that I'll be reviewing this book as well in the near future.
I have a G5 iMac at home running 10.4.11 that has a bad network adapter. I downloaded the drivers from startech.com, ran the installer package, rebooted, plugged it in and it worked great. I guess they've resolved the issue that the previous reviewer had. BTW, don't ever install drivers that come packed with a product like this. There are usually newer ones available from the manufacturer's website....Read more