If you’re aching to learn design skills but don’t have the time–or the confidence–then check out Robin William’s The Non-Designer’s Design Book.
The approachable, unassuming, and humorous book explains basic design principles in a way that anyone can grasp–from grandmas in Scranton to art directors in New York City.
So what are these basic design principles? It’s C-R-A-P (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity). Here’s how Robin explains them in her own words:
The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements (type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc.) are not the same, then make them very different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page–it’s what makes a reader look at the page in the first place.
Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. You can repeat colors, shapes, textures, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, fonts, sizes, graphic concepts, etc. This develops the organization and strengthens the unity.
Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look.
Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units. This helps organize information, reduces clutter, and gives the reader a clear structure.
With the cleverly crude mnemonic and the ample examples in the book, how can you not remember those principles? Even after 10 years since reading the book in high school, I still remember C-R-A-P.
Now, a caveat: designers trained by high Modernist standards will likely scoff at the book’s humble design. It sure ain’t Swiss Modern. Fortunately, the book’s not for them. As the title says, it’s for non-designers–those who have no clue about design but are eager to learn, without being looked down upon.
True, the book will not turn you into the next Paul Rand. But it’s a damn good start.
Special thanks goes to my English and Journalism teacher, Madelyn Pyeatt, who recommended the book to me when I was just handsome young lad. I would not be here without her encouragement.