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Found 6 results

  1. Coming off their success "Professional Web Design Vol. 1" Smashing Magazine comes out with Volumn 2 of this series, and while most part 2 books cover the same topics and provide little updates, but not these boys and girls. Professional Web Design Volumn 2, covers 20 new topics at a whopping 283 pages, may not seem much. However, when your talking about 2011, well lets just say after reading each topic, you will Google your brains out and try to catch up. This book covers CSS3, HTML5, Responsive web design, UX, latest trends (2011), naviggation, more concepts and items, and what the heck they threw in some working with clients as well. Of course, what makes this book great is this, most of the information you read can be found on the smashing website and so the comments you read there are just as insightful, but here it is more focus driven and easier to find (lol). As for my usal chapter review, I am having a real difficult time, but I think I found a topic that hits home for thousands of freelance web designers and it is titled "Web Designers, Don’t Do It Alone" by Paul Boag and right away in this topic he drives it home in just his first sentence. "Whether freelancers, small agency founders or website owners, too many of us work alone." That is very true indeed, but he really gets to the heart of the matter when you even work in teams you feel that isolation and I find that a very interesting thought, because I wouldn't think it be possible to be isolated even while on a team. Nonetheless, he provide six common traps for web designers that would categorize them as isolated; they include Dry up creatively, Lose confidence, Become over-confident, Reach the limit of your knowledge, Have a blinkered perspective, and Feel overwhelmed. Reading at how he describes these traps I would have to say I have #1, #2, #5, and #6. Though in the case of #6 I am more overwhelmed at all the things you can do in web design and so you really have to spread yourself thin in order to learn as much as you can. Of course, this reflects upon #5 of being in a comfort zone and trying to limit myself. Of course, he goes on to say that you need a partner to get yourself out of these traps, but some are easier said then done. Such as an external consultant, a mentor or someone outside of the business. To help you get your thoughts and ideas out there and realize your potential. On the other hand, I see the potential of adding sub-groups into that partner list and so it is a matter of just putting them in the right spot. So, just like this chapter, the rest of the book provides very insightful information as helps expand what it means to be a web designer. Of course, it also opens up a lot ideas for you to explore and in some cases, opens some wounds in which you have to realize that it is time to get out there and expand your knowledge base in order to be a more effective designer/developer. To end, I would like to point out that the book isn't on individual sale, except for Kindle, but you can get it with a bundle package from the Smashing Magazine store at the following address. http://forums.xisto.com/no_longer_exists/ In this bundle it includes this book, and volume 2, and another book titled "Getting the Hang of Web Typograph" so check the bundle out and the rest of the Smashing book series.
  2. In this review, I will be talking about second edition of Jason Beaird's book titled "The Principles of Beautiful Web Design 2ed". it is just one of many free books I have picked up from this great website and I would like to share it with you. In this book Beaird talks about all the various aspects of designing a beautiful website, from layout to color to typography to the usage of images and more. While this is pretty small for what it covers (Five Chapters at 196 pages). He still provides a great source of information, especially with current trends such as Grids, Fluid/Fixed/Responsive layouts, CSS3 and some HTML5 as well. In his first chapter titled "Layout and Composition", he spends his time in this chapter discussing the layout process a designer takes, such as what what the website is about, which questions to ask, should it be symmetrical or asymmetrical, inspiration and more. Definitely worth reading for you UX designers out there because how important this aspect of building a website is important to the boys and girls of UX. Another favorite part of the book lies in chapter two "Color" in which, Jason Beaird talks about the psychology of color, and spends the first seven pages talking about the meaning of primary colors such as red, blue, black, white, yellow, and even purple. Then of course, a topic I have been pondering about for awhile of course is topography and the fact I spend timing looking at fonts more closely, especially since CSS3 including the @font-face into its structure. Even though this is good book, the one fatal flaw its a bit short, especially in the topics that Beaird covers and so this book is gear more towards those getting into design and not those or are well aged in these areas. Of course, if you bought the first edition of the book most of the information is the same, but I find this version to be more polished and the book more reader friendly then its predecessor irregardless of the information that is in the two books. Of course, if your a huge fan of Sitepoint, then its a must have for your collection and I know I have.
  3. In today's book, I will be reviewing White Space Is Not our Enemy: A Beginner's Guide to Communicating Visually through Graphic, Web and Multimedia Design by Kim Golombisky & Rebecca Hagen. If you thought what I though, unlikely, I was thinking it was a book about work white space in your designs, well you be wrong as this book is more of a informal discussion of web design in general. Meaning, that it covers the most important aspects of design such as fonts, color, images, layout, story boarding to name a few. Of course, the whole time the book is specifically talking about the proper and improper usage of white space so that is most definitely a buzz world to look out for as you read this book. While this book is gear more towards the UX crowd, I think this book, which is light in nature, is valuable to programmers, graphic designers, font and color specialists and so on. The book isn't technical by any means but does provides processes a person would go through when trying to figure out their design. Obviously, the topics that the previous sentence refers to the chapters on color, fonts, and story boarding. However, as you read the book it provides a subtle process for everything a person goes through, its just those three chapters that stick out the most. As for the chapter that I will be focusing on in this review will be Chapter 4, which is titled Layout Sins. In this chapter the authors talks about 13 common mistakes when it comes to the layout process, for me some of them are pretty common and others not so much. For instance, sin number 2 talks about re-sizing the image to fit your layout and the problem is that it often distorts the image itself and thus lose its quality. I can say from experience getting an image to work properly in a layout is a annoying task, especially if the image isn't large enough to fit the layout. As for a sin that isn't too common, for me at least is Sin #8: Trapped Negative Space. The idea from what the authors are talking and from my understanding it has to deal with making sure that the white is balanced through out the website and if it isn't, then it will stick out like a sore thumb. To read more about this sine more specifically, go here http://sixrevisions.com/web_design/negative-space-in-webpage-layouts-a-guide/ The best thing about this chapter is out the end in which they ask you to go through the 13 sins with your designs and see if any of them show up, and odds are after reading that chapter they will stand out more. Which means, that this list should be an important part of your design process and odds are I bet that list would be even larger, but odds are I think the authors wanted to stick to these the most. To end my review, it is a good book for light reading and helps you think a bit more or rather think about things that have never come up and while it isn't technical in nature, I bet if you combine it with your other books, UX or other wise, odds are it will strengthen the process you go through from paper to server.
  4. If you a designer or developer of the web regardless of experience and skill, odds are quite a few might be missing a key asset into their development process. Sure the pros know what to do and the beginners have an idea. However, what if I told you that there is more too it then sketching out your prototype and providing great content. "Oh come now SM I know everything I need to know to produce great websites, what could I possibly be missing?" A whole lot then you might think, and so this is were the following book will help you get started or fill in the crack and make you a stronger developer in not only design but the User Experience. Undercover User Experience Design by Cennydd Bowles and James Box, experts in the UX field, have written a great starters guide to a good portion of the UX aspect of websites, web applications, and mobile applications. Rather then being a step-by-step guide on what to do, they explore all the concepts and ideas one has to think about when building something for the internet or for the office. they talk about the design process, who you most likely deal with during the process, various tools to get you going, statistical and analysis information to think about and more. While this is a small book at 183 pages, but the odds are that after reading this book you will be surprised there is a lot more to it then the coding process. Consider it a starters guide because everything they have to talk about there are hundreds of more books out there on specific topics or more in-depth guides on how to become a more efficient developer and designer. As for my favorite section, it would have to be "Chapter 6: Working With..." Because this chapter gives a brief but interesting perspective of the type of people you would be or are working with when developing websites, software and applications. What I like best about the chapter is the fact that everyone of those people who can be categorized in those groups has a different way of thinking and doing things and so the best experience you will be getting if you are able to take a bit of everything from them. That way, as you transition from each part of the process you will be prepared and being able to change your mindset when dealing with Developers, Visual Designers, SEO, Marketing people, to name a few. Of course, this book offers some useful tips and other books to read when you complete, so it is definitely a book worth having as it provides your available information to make you and your crew better designers/developers.
  5. I will say this, I think the author, Ph.D Susan Weinschenk is going easy on us the readers and in short web designers/developers as well, but the question is how does this relate to the web design/develop world? Well that is where it gets very interesting think of this book as 100 ways your life as a web designer/developer gets very difficult and requires a lot of planning and in a sense a descent size crew in developing websites and applications. That is of course if your starting from scratch in your designs and doesn't include anything already created to make life easier for you. Of course, it does help due to the fact that what has been designed already does cover a lot of what this books discusses, but like I said if your going to do something from scratch and your looking for a ultimate user experience for your websites or applications then this book is where you need to begin. For an example, #11 talks about a interesting fact about people and that is this, "Nine percent of men and one-half percent of women are color-blind" and to make this stat more interesting I did some calculations. I will note that numbers are not accurate whatsoever but a close approximation based on those numbers. I will use the world population and then go further use the numbers based on the numbers of males and females. An estimated 309,856,552 men are color-blind and and an estimated 16,932,549.3 women are colorblind and give it some sort of perspective, All of the US and and a small portion of Canada would be color blind. I would also like to point out there are billions of colors but if I remember my science correctly it deals with primary colors such as red, green, and blue. So how does #11 apply to design and development? Easy, accessibility, when designing a website or developing an application it is a fair chance that some of your users will be color blind and so how do you deal with slight problem? For one think grey-scale when developing a website because that is what a person will see when they are color blind, nothing but shades of grey. So you have to figure out how to cater to this small group but still be able to add color to your website. Best way based on my experience is Dark on light or light on dark layouts, use icons to help get the message across or even better yet provide a color blind option for a user to switch to. As you see just from reading that one "chapter" about know people I have become aware of what to think about when I am designing and this is especially important when UX comes into play. Just think 99 more things to think about when you read this book and yes it is something you need to think about because if you want to target a large audience this small group is part of it.
  6. In this review I would talk about an interesting book in which can be best summed up in making your life as a developer and designer much easier. This book is called Simple and Usable: web, mobile, and interaction design. Now i like to point out that this book is not sure fire techniques to instantly make your life better but more of a where to begin and how to progress in making your life simpler. Another thing is this, this book is literally one of thousands that covers topics of organization, project management, web development and of course User Experience or UX. So this book covers a lot of different topics at once in one page summaries which I because you don't have to think about it. In which another book I have and enjoy called Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a great companion book to have and read. Another way you can look at this book is at the UX level, because it really gets down and dirty on to think about your users and how to plan your projects and designers around your user base and I will say this. User experience has become very huge in the last decade and for someone like me who has been in the web design business for almost 15 years, I have become more aware about the user experience thanks to the learning i have receive from my time in college. However, I would like to think if your just starting to design and you are worrying about the code then you have barely broken the ice in the web design/development world. Because there are so many different levels of progression a person has to go in order to build a website that it makes your life very difficult until you have a plan and that is where this book will give you a good start on where to begin. Of course, if your training in the UX side of things then ideally this book is good as a source of inspiration and something to read if your stuck or looking for that little push of improvement. So check this book out and who knows it might encourage you to become a better designer and developer and maybe a better person.
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