Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy

agentfin's review against another edition

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A book on reverse engineering beauty might most practically be read in reverse. This is one of few books where reading the last chapter first will not ruin the story, but in fact set the stage and fuel the necessary curiosity.

There are at least four books in here. Two on history [art and typography], one on graphic design in regards to the page, and another on color and aesthetics.

This book does its greatest service with its title. It calls for developers to learn the modicum of design theory, not to become designers, but to understand better why the designers they work with ate flipping out about a color choice or font rendering. This book is about gaining entry into a conversation. It is serving to give permission to inquire.

Kadavy, as one who spans the gap already between design and programming, struggles at times with glossing over concepts that need more explanation. The visual side by sides of page layouts can be daunting as the leaps made to improve layout are so dramatic as to seem magic. Likewise with typography, the subtleties of fonts argue against their own importance because they are so hard to see.

But, the frustrations with this book do serve. Those who read it will gain vision into the vastness of design, and hopefully in this realization of how much there is to learn, continue. If nothing else, the section on color is a delightful primer for artist and designer alike, opening up the box of Hexidecimals and the full 'gamut' of what color can be.

shayneh's review against another edition

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haagen_daz's review against another edition

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I picked this up on a whim. I found the thinking muddled & the old-memes tone grating. There are better books with fewer words that teach you to look at things - Picture This by Molly Bang comes to mind.

It's good to recognize historical and technical influence on design but I found the treatment here surprisingly flat.

dozens's review against another edition

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Practical. Useful. I can imagine myself referring back to the bits on scale and type pairing, and type etiquette.

jackyalcine's review

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The design world moves quickly and looking at some of the examples shows that. Nonetheless, this made me more aware of the many facets of design.

kawai's review

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Critics have been mentioning that everything in this book is presented elsewhere, and as such, this isn't necessarily an original or "necessary" book.

I'd contend that what this book does--and does well--is to visit different sources of design, and compile those into a thoroughly readable and comprehensive reference book. While you won't receive in-depth treatment of any one subject, as a whole the book presents some of the most important concepts from several major facets of design, including typography, graphic design, and communication theory.

While it might not be a definitive guide, it's succinct and comprehensive, and will definitely be one of my go-to references for general design.