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Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty Paperback – Aug. 29 2011
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Hackers are able to accomplish so much in so little time because they come from a community that's built upon sharing knowledge. When it comes to programming, they can learn whatever they need to learn by reading manuals, or simply typing in a Google search. But learning design isn't so simple.
Many design books try to teach design through lists of "do's" and "don'ts." But hackers know you need a deeper understanding of something to really do it well. Design for Hackers takes apart design by "reverse-engineering" Impressionist painting, Renaissance sculpture, the Mac OS X Aqua interface, Twitter's web interface, and much more. You'll learn about color theory, typography, proportions, and design principles. This theoretical advice is mixed with concrete, actionable advice such as suggestions for color scheme tools, and a chart of "all of the fonts you'll ever need" (available along with the free design course at designforhackers.com).
By the end of the book, you'll be seeing design through new eyes.
-Noah Kagan, Founder, AppSumo.com
"Kadavy's book does an excellent job of linking the theoretical to the practical in a very readable format."
-Brad Feld, Co-Founder, TechStars
"clear yet engaging and comprehensive"
-Vitaly Friedman, Smashing Magazine
"those coding [our world's] software and user interfaces and threading the web should all learn what this book has to teach"
-Gareth Branwyn, MAKE Magazine
From the Inside Flap
WHY DID MONET NEVER USE THE COLOR BLACK IN HIS PAINTINGS?
WHY IS THE GOLDEN RATIO NOT ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE?
WHY IS COMIC SANS SUCH A HATED FONT?
It's amazing what you can learn about great web design by asking questions like these. Award-winning designer David Kadavy uses this "reverse-engineering" process in Design for Hackers to deconstruct classical design principles and techniques from web designers. Using an eclectic array of reverse-engineered examples, ranging from Twitter's latest redesign, to Target's red shopping carts, and ancient graffiti from the walls of Pompeii, he explains:
- COLOR THEORY: How can you enliven your designs by understanding how colors interact?
- PROPORTION AND GEOMETRY: How can you establish a grid that is suitable for the device on which your design will be displayed?
- SIZE AND SCALE: How can you create clean design just by choosing the right type sizes?
- WHITE SPACE: How can you use it elegantly to communicate clearly?
- COMPOSITION AND DESIGN PRINCIPLES: How can you use them to make your designs more compelling?
- TYPOGRAPHIC ETIQUETTE: What tiny typographic details can make a huge difference in what you're communicating?
- Publisher : Wiley; 1st edition (Aug. 29 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1119998956
- ISBN-13 : 978-1119998952
- Item weight : 753 g
- Dimensions : 18.75 x 2.03 x 23.5 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #385,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Anybody that comes anywhere near building user interfaces or hard-copy publications (i.e. web and desktop developers, copy writers, marketing execs, small business owners, school fair and bake sale organisers, careless cat owners, etc.) should read this book - even if only to stop you looking like a total design amateur. It's genuinely fascinating in the way that it explains why fonts, colours, layouts, and logos, look the way they do from a historical context. The message that design is a product of both intent and environment is re-iterated and illustrated with examples throughout the book. The level of detail seems unnecessary at times, but by the end of the chapter it becomes clear that the author's judgement was spot-on. You may think you don't need to know some of this stuff but actually you do.
The author's tone is that of a good professor - he clearly wants you to learn and enjoy this stuff, so he explains everything clearly and doesn't take for granted that you already understand these design concepts. I felt like this book was educating me, but at no point did I feel out of my depth or patronised. Only time will tell if I am able to put it into practice, but right now I feel like my life is richer for having read it.
Reading this book in 2020 as a software engineer reveals some outdated content, but the history and explanations remain. Durable principles over transient rules and specifications.
I recommend this book to anyone looking to understand design. This is the most complete and beginner-friendly resource I've found.