Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks – Review

I was the lucky winner of a giveaway over on Monday by Noon awhile back, my prize of the new book Sexy Web Design by author, speaker and designer Elliot Jay Stocks. I was thrilled as I had planned to by the book anyways and it looked like a great read, not to mention that I am a fan of Elliot’s work and his previous cohorts, Carsonified.

Upon first hearing of the book I wondered how it differed from The Principles of Beautiful Web Design which is also published by Sitepoint. Upon reading the first few pages it became clear. Where Principals of Beautiful Web Design is intended as a book that teaches the fundamental rules of graphic design and how they apply to the web– Sexy Web Design is more about developing a mood, theme and aesthetic quality that fits the context of your work.

What’s Inside

Reading through the book you learn about the different methods and techniques of designing a “sexy website” by following the story of a fictitious client and the site that is designed for them. This way you can see every step of the process that Elliot recommends and how it applies in a real world situation.

The different stages include:

  • Interfaces
  • Research
  • Structure
  • Navigation
  • Aesthetics
  • Deliverables

What I Got Out of It

While I am sure that everyone will get different things out of the book based on their past experiences and level of education, what I found most inspiring was the discussion about creating a specific mood and how to go about doing so. There is a saying that if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

Often I find that designers rely on current design trends in their work, hashing together different elements that “look cool” with out thinking about what mood they are trying to develop. The process of thinking about and planning that mood is critical in the success of a design.

I also found a great amount of value in the external resources that Elliot provides. Between references to inspiration flickR pools, valuable articles on subjects and specific websites to examine there is plenty of “beyond the book” reference material to keep you busy even after you read cover to cover.

How It Could Be Improved

While I loved the book and found a lot of value, I almost felt as if it was trying to cover too broad of a reach in subject matter. There was a lot of material about a lot of topics that were not specifically focused on Sexy Web Design. I am not talking about the necessary process that leads up to the actual “sexying” of the design like wireframes or the brief, but rather the talk about the development, changes to the scope, and organization of layers in photoshop that felt a bit off topic.

I would have liked to hear more about the actual design and had gotten the impression that the book was going to be more than a brief introduction to color theory, grids, etc…

Should You Buy It?

I would say yes, absolutely. If you feel like your design abilities could use improvement than absolutely, this book is for you. If you feel that you are at the peak of design capabilities then you may want to find some books that are focused on a given area of design where you can find more detail. Overall I think it is worth a read.