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Web Style Guide


HAVE YOU HEARD of the World Wide Web? If so, your understanding of this exciting new medium has probably evolved somewhat over the past few years. Here is a common evolutionary trajectory:

  1. What is this Web thing?
  2. The Web is just a flash in the pan.
  3. The Web is actually pretty cool.
  4. Hmmm, maybe we can make money on the Web.
  5. The Web is the cornerstone of the New Economy.
  6. There is no New Economy.
  7. What was that Web thing?

When things change this fast, humans have a hard time adapting, keeping up, and just plain understanding what's going on. But people's reactions to the Web changed so fast precisely because so few of us really understood what it is. In fact, most of us didn't have the time to think hard about how Web sites could truly be useful and good things and how important sound design principles are to making them so.

Frenzied anxiety forced us to rush to legions of "experts" who played upon our fears that "we didn't get it." Through hype and jargon (not to mention wildly creative business modeling), they bullied us back to where we are today: square one.

As we return to the drawing board to figure out what we should do with the Web and our Web sites, what we needed all along becomes clear: fundamentals and fundamentally sound advice to help us think for ourselves and design for our users.

Fortunately, this wonderful little book is still here to show us those fundamentals. Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton aren't trying to scare you with hype or jargon. They're just trying to get you to slow down, take a deep breath, and think for yourself. They'll teach you basic design principles as well as tricks of the trade, ranging from interaction design to typography, so that you can develop your own Web site or better understand and communicate with the people who are doing that work for you. More important, they will give you a broad framework that will help you understand the Big Picture of Web design. Even if you don't agree with all of their advice, you'll have a starting point from which to develop your ideas and practices.

If you're new to the Web, this is the book for you. It will give you a broad overview of a very complicated subject and get you started in the right direction. It will also make you look very smart when you carry it into meetings with your Web team.

And if you're battle-scarred, weary, and preparing mentally to do battle again, this is the book for you. It will help you synthesize what you've learned over these past few years and reshape your approach to Web site design from a more reasoned and realistic perspective. And it will also make you look very smart when you carry it into meetings with your Web team.

Now get back to it!

— Louis Rosenfeld