Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

ZDNet book review: Design for Hackers

That's hackers as in coders and people who take joy in understanding systems; this is the book if you want to take the same joy in understanding design. This is one of the books I've enjoyed reading for review the most and learned the most from, in technical terms. I've been learning about colour space models since 1991 when I first covered Photoshop and I still learned new things; I finally understand Hue and Lightness. I've had some fantastic designers and artists explain proportion and guiding the eye through a design over the years, but this book gives you systematic examples (and makes much more sense of the impressionists for me than many art critics). And I'm a very amateur font geek so it was great to get a potted theory of type structure and why it matters. I was a bit irritated by the emphasis on Mac as the only system designers use and the only example of good hardware design; the analysis of good design in the Mac world worked better than the moments of uncritical adulation. But all in all, an excellent read.

For a book so packed with fascinating and informative details, Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty starts much too slowly. The author is so keen to tell you what he's going to tell you, what difference he hopes it will make to you and why design literacy matters that the first 40 pages are essentially an extended introduction (even if reminding people to sketch out ideas is always a good thing).

Skip to the meat of the book where Kadavy dives in and takes something many people know instinctively — Comic Sans is not the right font for serious design — and analyses why, in a way that makes immediate sense. Instead of simply declaring that something is good or, in this case, bad design, he shows you why.
Read the rest of my review on ZDNet
Tags: articles, book review, design, review, technology, writing, zdnet

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