Fresh Styles for Web Designers - Book Review - WebReference Update - 010920 | WebReference

Fresh Styles for Web Designers - Book Review - WebReference Update - 010920

((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) September 20, 2001

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This week we review "Fresh Styles for Web Designers" by Curt Cloninger. Like a digital art historian Cloninger traces the influences of past masters on the current pixel Picassos. This refreshing book will expand your design horizons, and give you fresh ideas for your next design project.

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New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. BOOK REVIEW: Fresh Styles for Web Designers 2. OTHER VOICES: * The Myth of Optimal Web Design * W3C HTML Validation Service Upgraded * Expert One-on-One: Oracle 3. NET NEWS: * Nimda Worm Poses a Triple Threat * Why They're Agog over Google

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. BOOK REVIEW: Fresh Styles for Web Designers

A new group of cutting-edge Web designers are changing the face of the Web, embracing its quirks. Like a new-age digital art historian, Curt Cloninger traces the influences of past masters on the current masters of Web design. Cookie-cutter corporate conformity is out. Morphing the masters is in.

Cloninger covers 10 new underground Web design styles, with names like SuperTiny SimCity, Mondrian Poster, and HTMinimaLism. He traces the roots of these styles to the past. He shows current masters of each style, how to perform some of these techniques, and which commerce projects apply for each style. After reading this book, you'll expand your design vocabulary.

The idea is to create a compelling experience through great design. Branding matters when selling products. The "usability legalists" say that "an elegant design that is unusable will fail." Cloninger agrees but proposes this corollary: "a perfectly usable site which lacks elegant and appropriate design style will fail." He says that the Jakob Nielsenizing of the Web, avoiding "bad usability" at all costs, has fostered an entire generation of safe, bland, copycat Web sites that "are about as engaging as a book on usability testing methodologies."

Cloninger is out to shake things up. He says that to succeed a site must have a "focused narrative voice, an angle, a plan, a consistent point of view to unify its disparate elements and give it a cohesive personality." To Cloninger, creative visual design is an integral part of this site-building process. Inbred conservative copycat design is boring, so Cloninger explores the personal sites of today's leading Web designers. What's wonderful is the way he classifies these styles, relating the present design style to the past with great insight and humor. Here are his ten design styles:

>Gothic Organic Style

GO stylists take a more abstract "part for the whole" design approach that suggests the irregularities of real life without depicting them literally.

>Grid-based Icon Style

A combination of Bauhaus style, a fetish for maps, charts, and graphs, and a desire to push the Web's limits produces the Grid-base Icon style. This fake stylized "interface" gently ridicules the hype of Web interactivity. Characterized by grid-based geometric layout, 45-degree angle increments, composition and balance. "Roll over, Walt Gropius, and tell Kandinsky the news."

GO is pioneered by Mike Cina. Here are some representative URLs:

http://www.testpilotcollective.com http://www.trueistrue.com http://www.mikecina.com http://nikewomen.nike.com/nikewomen/

>Lo-Fi Grunge Style

Where popart meets pixels. Uses the irregular printing of the late 60s with loose antigrid layouts. Characterized by smudges, scan lines, fashion models, tiling backgrounds, and lots of Photoshop. Pioneered by Miika Saksi:

http://www.smallprint.net http://www.nokiantyres.fi

>Paper Bag Style

Funny Garbage and P2 have a playful anachronistic approach to their design works, using asymmetrical fonts, scanned sketchbook drawings, line art, paper bag textures, and a mostly colorless palette. Willful anarchy is a reaction against the professional elitism that frequently infects the Web design community. It's a loose antidesign style.

http://www.funnygarbage.com http://www.p2output.com http://vintage.levi.com

>Mondrian Poster Style

This is Piet Mondrian, Dutch abstract expressionist, without the black borders. MP stylists use negative space, eschew borders, and big bold blocks of color to delineate sections. Embracing the minimalist aesthetic, MP sites have an elegant classy look. Characterized by full screen layouts, two-color backgrounds, and no borders.

http://www.design-museum.de http://www.bauhaus.de http://www.aiga.org

>Pixelated Punk Rock Style

An in your face, disorienting style.

>SuperTiny SimCity Style

Derived from the old low-res sprite designs. Video designers turned pixel Picassos. The idea is to cram as much info into the screen as possible. Characterized by fast-loading, playful, and jam-packed screens. Pixelated people, buildings, tiny fonts, and intense compartmentalization are hallmarks of this design style.

http://www.k10k.net

>HTMinimaLism

Usable, clean, scalable and elegant. Using optimized code, HTMinimaLists craft clean, fast-loading sites.

http://www.37signals.com

>Drafting Table/Transformer Style

Mike Young pioneered this sharding 3D look. In DTT styled sites, 3D sharding shapes float in semi-negative space. The more illegible the fonts the better. The effect is machinated, technical, and futuristic.

http://www.designgraphik.com

>1950s Hello Kitty Style

Gives a mod, retrokitch vibe. Amy Franceschini pioneered this playful style. Animated 3D bubble people cavort about in organically styled surrealistic environments. 50s pastel palettes, retro-futuristic fonts and artwork characterize this style.

http://www.futurefarmers.com

I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.

Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground By Curt Cloninger New Riders, $35.00 ISBN: 0735710740

http://www.lab404.com/dan/ http://www.newriders.com

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. OTHER VOICES: The Myth of Optimal Web Design, W3C HTML Validation Service Upgraded, Expert One-on-One: Oracle

>The Myth of Optimal Web Design

Whether you are designing an intranet web site, or a microwave oven, you have at least three sets of overlapping criteria to deal with: Business objectives, user experience objectives, and resource limitations. These aspects create lines of both synergy and tension. http://www.uiweb.com/issues/issue17.htm uiweb, Sep. 18, 2001

>W3C HTML Validation Service Upgraded

The W3C has upgraded its HTML Validation Service created and maintained by Gerald Oskoboiny. New features include XHTML 1.1 and XHTML Basic 1.0 support, experimental MathML 2.0 support, and more. http://validator.w3.org/ http://www.w3.org/News/2001#item162 W3C.org, Sep. 18, 2001

>Expert One-on-One: Oracle

Tom Kyte has a simple philosophy: you can treat Oracle as a black box and just stick data into it or you can understand how it works and exploit it as a powerful computing environment. http://wdvl.internet.com/Authoring/DB/Oracle/OneonOne/ WDVL.com, Sep. 20, 2001

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Nimda Worm Poses a Triple Threat, Why They're Agog over Google

>Nimda Worm Poses a Triple Threat

The latest bit of malicious code is particularly insidious due to its blended approach of using three different delivery methods to propagate itself. We have the lowdown on what Nimda does, how it works, how to eradicate the worm, and what you can do to assure you won't be compromised by it. http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/01/09/18/010918hnnimdanews.xml http://networking.earthweb.com/netsecur/article/0,,12084_887671,00.html Earthweb.com, Sep. 19, 2001

>Why They're Agog over Google

An IPO may loom for the search engine everyone loves. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/01_39/b3750036.htm Business Week, Sep. 24, 2001

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Newsletter Editor, WebReference.com aking@internet.com

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