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Book Review: Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks

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"Let's start working" says Elliot Jay Stocks at the end of Chapter 2, and I really enjoyed Sexy Web Design as soon as Chapter 3 began. But more on that later.

Sexy Web Design (SWD) is described as a book for a web designer – anyone "responsible for the look, the feel, or the mood of a web site." But SWD isn't a tutorial — wisely so — because this area is too vast to cover in any one book. Instead it explores the areas a web designer needs to know about in order to become successful at his or her craft. Particularly it focuses on those areas that you need to zero in on in order to create eye-catching web sites. In essence, SWD is a sitemap for web designers.

The first few chapters of SWD are spent explaining what sexy web design is and why its important. A few examples are used to embellish the points. It's the least compelling section of the book although I liked the idea behind dedicating a chapter to research (Chapter 2) – essentially guiding designers to look for inspiration in many places.

Happily as soon as Chapter 3 begins, Stocks rolls up his sleeves — so to say — and goes about telling us what a good web designer needs to know: how to define the structure of a site using sitemaps, how to define pages using a wiremap and how to go from sketches to templates. In the next chapter, the pages are brought together under the topic of Navigation and Interaction. Stocks covers the different types of navigation a designer needs to know about, including forms and audio-visual content.

All through these two chapters, Stocks' simply describes the landscape. The idea behind this approach seems to be that once a reader is familiar with what they need to know, they can decide which topic they need to know more about.

Chapter 5 is about aesthetics such as fixed width versus fluid width layouts, colors, imagery and typography. There is some coverage on how to develop consistency and make your site pop through the use of contrast.

Sexy Web Design is best oriented for web-savvy users and site builders who need to get sophisticated about site design quickly and efficiently. You'll need to supplement this material with a lot more in-depth information. But reading the book is a great way to kick-start the exploration.

Stocks explains how to do sitemaps, wireframes, design of pages, navigation and interaction in Chapters 3 and 4. These are great for identifying areas you can go dig into later – depending on where you need most expertise.

In one long Chapter (5), Stocks tackles aesthetics – covering topics such as fluid width versus fixed width layouts, color, imagery and typography.

As a sitemap of web design, Stocks' book is very valuable. You will need to find additional material for a deeper dive into the topics covered here.

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