Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground

Webreference reviews "Fresh Styles for Web Designers", the Curt Cloninger book that takes an art historical approach to "underground web design styles" and shows examples of the "masters". 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 in addition proposes a 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.