In one bit of advice, Beaird talks about how the human eye
tends to scan a page of content (left to right, top to bottom).
It's all good, basic principles of user interface design.
But the author then provides innumerable examples of home
page designs featuring large graphics and illustrations positioned
at the top of the page. This design approach tends to force
actual content (text, product descriptions, links, etc.)
below the visible part of the browser window, which necessitates
scrolling to read the content. That's a potential disaster
for businesses trying to create web sites which attract and
hold potential customers, because for many people, the bottom
of the browser window is the bottom of the readable page.
Sometimes they scroll; sometimes they don't. Seasoned web
developers know that visual fatigue sets in quite quickly
if a site features too much eye candy, and that makes site
visitors less likely to scroll to read or get at information
below the bottom of the browser window. The point of a business
web site is to convey information, sell a product, promote
and sell a service and so on. If people never find your site,
what is the value of its beauty? It's interesting to note
throughout the book that most of the comparatively unknown
sites used as examples of beautiful design make use of large
graphics and illustrations at the top of the home page, while
most of the examples of good looking and highly successful
commercial web sites do not use large graphics and illustrations
at the top of the home page.
Buy the book for its respectable coverage of typography and fonts,
for its coverage of color, and for its good general advice about page
layout. On the other hand, you could also purchase one of the many excellent
books on those same subjects written by people who are lot more experienced
than Beaird. Do not buy the book to help you put your web site on the
book adheres strictly to the subject matter, which is great,
but makes no significant mention of the fact that it's
not a complete path to successful business web site design.
The book's title is not accurate in our opinion because
there's no coverage and little mention of dynamic programming
using PHP, AJAX, DHTML and other commonly used techniques
for enhancing the look, feel and functionality of successful
and well optimized web sites. In our opinion, beauty is
more than skin deep—it
resides partly in looks and layout, but just as importantly
in clean functionality, speed, navigability and optimized
content. The problem is, Beaird does not seem to be a true
web developer. He is a talented graphic designer who fails
to deal with the ultimate point of creating beautiful business
web sites: getting found by the search engines. Sitepoint's
back cover heading "You
Don't Need to go to Art School to Design Great Looking Web
Sites" is deceiving mainly because (and you can quote
us on this) "You Do Need to Understand and Implement
Good Copy Writing, Great Search Engine Optimization and
Ongoing Analysis to Design Effective Great Looking Web Sites." Place
emphasis on the word Effective.
your tastes tend toward designs and layouts that follow
a set of traditional techniques that have been successfully
transferred from the printed paged to the web, this book
is for you. If you've already got some design ideas and
need a reference of some sort which will help you make
competent font, color and composition choices, this book
is for you. If you lack an understanding of the fundamentals
of graphic design for web sites, this book is for you.
Well written and extensively illustrated. If Sitepoint
decides to reissue the book under the title "Typography,
Layout and Color for Web Site Design" I can almost guarantee
it will get a better review and a four-star rating.