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Book Review: Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks

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What is a web designer? By definition it is anyone who is responsible for the look and feel of a website. It does not matter if the site is the storefront for a multimillion dollar conglomeration or where you post pictures of your family. If you created it, you are a web designer.

Sexy Web Design is meant to be an easy to follow guide that will show you the secrets on how to build better, more sexy web interfaces from scratch. The goal is that even if you are short on design skills, this book will help you build your own stunning websites in no time. The book is 172 pages in length and is divided into six chapters.

Chapter 1, "Interfaces are Sexy," begins by explaining that web design goes beyond making things look pretty; it is about making them work. Making them work means that you must allow a person to interact with the interface and accomplish a goal. This chapter looks at the parts of an interface, how they interact with the user, and what it means to produce a website that is interesting.

Chapter 2, "Research," looks at what a brief is. A brief is the design detail that the client gives you to build the website. It is what the client expects. If you want to be successful, it had better not be brief. Here you will learn how to get from the client the information that matters most. You will look at brand consistency, inspiration, and how to look outside the web for creative ideas.

Chapter 3, "Structure," examines what it takes to put together your design. You will now work with paper and pencil to draw some loose sketches. You want to start thinking about how certain parts of the site will work. You will also learn of the importance of wireframing your site to get a better look at overall layout of the page.

Chapter 4, "Navigation and Interaction," will now look at how the main navigation works and what kind of enhancements that can be built into the user interface to improve the browsing experience. You will also look at how you should deal with navigating back to the home page. You will learn about working with clouds, tool tips, forms, e-commerce, and working with audio/visual content.

Chapter 5, "Aesthetics," is the fun part of design. Sometimes people get caught up in scrimping on this part when deadlines loom, but this is what will impress people even if they are not aware of the subtlety that goes into it. It is what will have them coming back for more. You will examine design techniques like the rule of thirds, decide if you should make it flexible, fixed, or fluid, how to bring mood to your site, work with color, imagery, and typography.

Chapter 6, "Deliverables," now will show you how to take what you have done and package it for the client. This will be handled from two different perspectives; first with the delivery of mockups for client approval, and next with the delivery of images ready for development. Here you will see how to keep your layers in Photoshop organized, how to export the images, how to present mockups in a browser, and how to create style guides.

Sexy Web Design is a good, well balanced guide that steps you through the basics of web design. It does not go into a lot of heavy design theory and keeps to a straight to the point motif. Keep in mind that this about design and not about how to use Photoshop to make designs.

It will be of most benefit to someone who is new to design and wants to understand the steps that are needed to create a good design. If you have been doing design for years, there probably is not a lot that you will learn from here. But if you are new to web design or trying to learn more about web design from a basic level, then I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • http://www.nzcreativewebdesign.com Rob

    As a student studying web, advertising and multimedia design I found this article very useful to me and I also believe that anyone who plans to become a professional web designer needs to research on latest web design trends, etc. Also since I notice that the market is quite saturated with web designers we have to figure out what we can offer to the consumers uniquely and try and distinguish ourselves from the rest of the market in a positive sense.

  • http://www.yyztech.ca Zoltan H

    Just finished a review of this book too. It’s a good book if your not looking for a PhotoShop tutorial. The section on structure is very good, esp. wireframing.

  • http://www.fearntech.co.uk/ Paul Fearn

    Sounds like a useful book. Other books such as Nielsen’s Designing Web Usability, and Mullet & Sano’s Designing Visual Interfaces are worth a look as well. Designing Visual Interfaces was written in 1995 but it’s principles still hold true.

  • Graffiti

    I read this book, its really great. It helps a lot with the most stuff u need for a proffesionell looking website, there is everything u need. u can buy it cheap on ebay, since its older.

  • Robert

    I’ve been looking for decent book for a while, one that doesn’t hover too much on the graphical side of things but more the actual designing.