First design book review!
Check out all the previous Book of the Weeks while you’re at it!
And… let’s just jump into it!
Verdict: For beginners, and/or as reference.
Above the Fold is a web design book that explains the whole process of web design from conception to the final product. It’s organized into three sections: plan, design, and optimize; the layout of the book is rather linear in that regard, which is a great thing as it simulates an actual project.
This book seems to focus on graphic designers switching over to web design for the very first time. Much of the writing compares print to web, which is great as this approach makes tackling web design for the first time much less intimidating, especially when there is so much more to worry about from responsiveness to code to animation. Much of the print design talk is rather simple as well, so even those without any background in design can handle this content well.
The linear organization of the book is pretty amazing actually. The first section, planning, goes over the basics of project planning including information architecture, site mapping, wireframing, prototypes, as well as the elements differing print from web, such as links, the grid, responsiveness, etc. The first half of the section is a very brief, high-level explanation of user experience (UX) design in general; a nice introduction to everything.
The middle section talks about the actual design elements of web design, including the page organization (such as headers and footers) plus your typical graphic design elements such as color, texture, typography, and imagery. When applicable, comparisons are once again mentioned, such as loading times of images, web fonts, etc.
The last third of the book talks about optimizing the website once it’s been made (the author emphasizes about having a website out as soon as possible, in a timely matter, being more important than having a perfect product that takes forever). These don’t talk about design elements much, but this is information that designers will want to know regardless, as least so they can think about it when designing. Terms such as search engine optimization (SEO), spiders, marketing and advertising, social media, and analytics of visitors such as with Google Analytics. Great information, especially since I doubt people who studied solely art or graphic design and not web design would never hear this information otherwise. Developers should worry more about this section though; or if you’re an aspiring full-stack developer like I am, then absorb every bit of information that you can!
The information is quite concise, with great examples and visuals on every page. The design of the book itself, inside and out, is well done and definitely makes the information even more credible than it already is. Quite an easy and enjoyable read.
The one flaw with this book is simply the fact that it feels like like it’s only for web design beginners. On the back cover, the page designer decided to include the following testimonial: “Fantastic product – a must-buy for any intermediate designer.” However, many of the concepts definitely feel like they’re only explained at a beginner level, with no extra explanation for the intermediate. Much of the explanation about the design elements felt rather elementary as well, explaining what color is, what contrast and hue is, for example.
If this book sounds like you’re in the perfect situation to make use of this book, by all means grab it and start learning how to build the one thing society and businesses today need the most!