Best Book Covers 2010

10 of 2010′s Best Book Cover Designs Thumbnail

Atticus Waller, who is an accomplished graphic designer, recently said the following about book cover design:

“When designing a book cover, I have six ideal goals: 1) A cover should communicate the book’s content, be that the story or simply the mood. Reading the book first is important. 2) The graphics should convey only one conceptual statement about the book, which should nest neatly with the imagery. Avoid graphics with no conceptual reason for being. 3) Cover text should be cohesively incorporated into the imagery. 4) The cover should attract those who’ll enjoy the book once drawn in. 5) The cover should stand out amongst many books from across a room. 6) The cover should satisfy the client I’m designing for and the author of the book.”

Publishers know that a beautifully designed cover will lead to higher sales. This is the era of the big box bookstore, where millions of books compete with each other on the shelves to catch your eye. Some say that the art of the book cover is a dying one, because of the huge popularity growth of e-readers like the Kindle and the iPad. Nevertheless, new book cover art in 2010 was in top form. Check out ten of our favorites this year.

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

The Imperfectionists

The Healing of America

The Minds Eye

The Shallows

super sad true love story


five days apart

mr peanut

you had me at woof

Posted in Hot Tips. Comments Off on Best Book Covers 2010

Good design is…

Good design is innovative.

Good design makes a product useful.

Good design is aesthetic.

Good design makes a product understandable.

Good design is unobtrusive.

Good design is honest.

Good design is long-lasting.

Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

Good design is environmentally friendly.

Good design is as little design as possible.

—Dieter Rams

HOT TIPS wordpress as CMS

The following are tips  to consider WordPress for your next easy web site as CMS:

  1. WordPress is FREE. WordPress is basically a Content Management System that you can use to update your web site in real time with graphics and content.
  2. Themes. WordPress can be designed with 100% custom graphics. This means that you don’t have to sacrifice design for a good content manager.
  3. Fresh content! WordPress makes it easy for any authorized user to update or add new content to your web site.
  4. WordPress is now a web site and blogging software. There is NO NEED to have two separate site for your web site and blog. In fact, you can set up as many blogs and content contributors as you want.
  5. Don’t pay for a CMS web site. When you don’t have to pay for CMS programming it means you can spend your budget on the graphic design and layout.

WP rocks

HOT TIPS design user-friendly site

Many web site’s traffic are  slow to non-existent despite having attractive design and informative content. The problem may be that these sites are not user-friendly which means people find them hard to navigate. If they don’t find easily what they are looking for they will instantly click away.

lost in the shuffle

When the viewers like the site they will engage in actions such as making a purchase or signing up for newsletter etc. Following all these tips are very easy because they are all about using your common sense and keeping it simple. Always put your feet  in your potential clients’ shoes and see whether you are satisfied with your site. Does the site load quickly? Does it contain all the relevant information? Is it easy to find relevant information? Does the site reflect the look and feel of the business? Positive answers to all these questions make sure that the site is a user-friendly one.

on target

  • The headlines should be attractive conveying a message relevant to the business.
  • The images should not be overpowering.
  • The text color and size should be readable.
  • Use eye-catching captions because people love to go through interesting captions.
  • There should be a common menu throughout the site.
  • Give importance to text instead of images having texts because search engines can not read texts embedded in images.
  • The site should have interactive features including form, blog, forum, glossary, survey etc.
  • Include a site map so that it becomes easier for the search engines as well as visitors to find the pages on the site.
  • Try to add unique features in your site by checking competitors’ site  to find out the features that make them unique.
  • Spell check and proof read the content of the site because bad content can leave a negative impression.

on target binary

HOT TIPS and web design common sense

Tips and design common sense rules recommended for the modern web:

tips and inspiration

Provide compelling content / something of value

  • Make sure each page in your website has something valuable to offer . Though this doesn’t really relate to design, it’s actually more important than design, which is why it’s the very first tip. Fundamentally a web page exists to provide something that’s useful or interesting to visitors. If your page doesn’t have that, then you must fix that problem before you worry about how to present it.

Avoid Sleazy Elements

  • Don’t distract your visitors with blinking or scrolling text, animated GIFs, or auto-loading sound. Animation and sounds are distracting. How can anyone concentrate on reading what’s on your site when there are things flying around the page? It’s like trying to read a newspaper when someone’s poking you in the shoulder repeatedly.  Another problem with scrolling text is that the reader can’t read it at their own pace. They’re forced to read it at whatever speed you deliver it. They might have preferred to read those two sentences quickly and then move on, but because it’s scrolling they have to sit there and wait for the text to slowly appear. Always keep your visitors’ interests in mind. Make sure you try to please them, not yourself. Scrolling text does nothing to serve the visitor.
  • Don’t annoy your visitors with pop-up windows. Nobody likes pop ups. Here again, the only reason a site would have pop ups is because the site owner is thinking of his/her own interests rather than the readers.
  • Don’t use image backgrounds. Image backgrounds scream “amateur”, because it’s mostly amateurish sites that use them. This is one mistake I have to overcome! Quick, can you name a single professional, respected site that uses image backgrounds? Not Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, the New York Times, Webmaster World, or any others. One reason that backgrounds scream “low quality” is because sites that use them are often user-hostile in many other ways as well. For example, when I visited a site recently and saw that they used an image background, I wasn’t surprised to find that the site also has extremely slow page-loading times, internal links that pop up into brand-new windows, links that are the exact same color as the surrounding text, cheap animated GIFs, blatant keyword stuffing, and numerous embarrassing misspellings. Another problem with them is that they take longer to load. That said, image backgrounds are fine if you know what you’re doing. They can work if you make sure the contrast is very high  or you don’t put any text over them.

design stages

Make it Easy to Find Stuff

  • Put some thought into organization.  Think about what content you have and how it should be organized. This is at least as important as what your pages look like, so actually spend some time on it. You do your readers a disservice if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for if everything is thrown up on your site in a haphazard fashion.
  • Minimize clicking! Put as few clicks between your visitor and your information as possible. The more you force your visitors to click around your site the more likely they’ll abandon it. Even if they don’t leave they might get annoyed, or not view as much of your content — either of which is bad for you.Is your home page a splash page (a page with no meaningful information on it, that simply “welcomes” visitors to the site, along with an “Enter Site” link)? If so, get rid of it. After someone takes the effort to visit your site, give them your site right away! Don’t make them knock on two different doors.
  • Limit page length to 2 screenful, or 6-7 screenful for articles. While you should put a lot of info on each page to minimize clicking, don’t go too far in the other direction by putting too much info on a page. You should normally limit a page to no more than two screenful of info.
  • Include a way to get back to the home page, on every page. When users get lost they like to start over from square one. Make it easy for them to do so. If you’re including a clickable logo on the top of every page, make sure to also include text that says something like “Home”, because some users don’t realize that logos take you back to the home page. Also remember that users might not be able to hit the “Back” button to go back to your home page, because they might have entered the middle of your site after clicking a link to it from a search engine or from some other site.
  • Include a menu on every page. While you should provide a way for users to get back to your home page quickly, you shouldn’t force them to go home before they can go somewhere else. Include a menu on the left or the top of each page.Don’t put navigation links only at the bottom of pages, because then users will have to scroll down to the bottom to get to them (unless your pages are very short).  On long pages, you’ll want navigation elements on BOTH the bottom and the top or left, so that users who have read a lengthy page don’t have to scroll back up to get to the menus.

Don’t bog your website down

  • Compress your image files. Nothing is more annoying to readers than waiting for a 200k graphic to load when it should be only 20k instead. Graphics software can compress files so they take up less room on your disk, and therefore take less time to load into your visitors’ browsers. Photoshop is a great tool in saving compressed image files for the web.
  • Don’t let flashy multimedia ruin your site. Flashy graphics and multimedia controls may look nice, but they’re bad when they make it hard for visitors to get the information they want from your site. Nobody wants to be annoyed by having to use a cumbersome Java scroller to see all the text in a field, much less wait for all the doodads to load — if they even work at all.

Website Readability

  • No line of text should be more than about 600 pixels wide. The reason that newspapers and magazines are printed in columns is to make the lines short, so after you read one line, it’s easy to find the start of next one.
  • Don’t make your page too wide. Most users have 1024×768 monitors, so pages should be completely visible at 1000 pixels wide without horizontal scrolling. As of 2009, about 10% of users has a screen that’s 800×600 pixels or less, so many designers make their pages work at sizes as small as 770 pixels wide. The tradeoff is that if you design for 770 pixels, you’re wasting the space available to the other 90% of your visitors. You could use a “fluid” design that’s wide as the user’s window, whatever that may be, but it’s hard to make fluid designs that look good at any resolution. What size to format your pages for is a tough decision full of trade-offs. If your page doesn’t work at 1000 pixels, it’s too wide.
  • Use contrasting colors or simple backgrounds to make your text easy to read. It’s hard to read light text on a light background, or dark text on a dark background. There are also some color combinations that don’t work. (adapted from websitehelpers)

web color optimization

HOT TIP in web design comps


3d digital art resource

old habit in designing a web site

I used to think the best place to design a website was in an image editor. I’d create a pixel-perfect PSD filled with generic content, send it off to the client, go through several rounds of revisions, and eventually create the markup.

Does this process sound familiar? You’re not alone. In a non official survey I conducted, close to 90% of respondents said they design in Photoshop before the browser.

abstract markup inspiration

this process is whacked, “dog”

After designing first in photoshop, I tested designing first in the browser using dreamweaver. I’ve come to the conclusion that a website’s design should begin where it’s going to live: in the browser.

Photoshop in conjunction with dreamweaver side by side

Some of you may be wondering, “what’s so bad about using Photoshop for the bulk of my design?” Well, any seasoned designer will tell you that working in Photoshop is akin to working in a minefield: you never know when it’s going to blow up in your face and how it will work with the powerful but whacked out nested divs.

The real issue with using Photoshop for mockups is the expectations you’re setting for a client. When you send the client a static image of the design, you’re not giving them the whole picture — they can’t see how a an elastic grid would function, how the design will look in a variety of browsers, basic interactions like hover effects and/or JavaScript behaviors.

In the past we’ve put up with Photoshop because it was vital to achieving our beloved rounded corners, drop shadows, outer glows, and gradients. However, with the recent adaptation of CSS3 in major browsers, and the slow, joyous death of IE6 and IE7, browsers can render mockups that are just as beautiful as those created in an image editor. With the power of dreamweaver designing both in code and design view you can create a prototype that radiates shiny awesomeness right in the browser.

It is a little bit harder to start, but with practice, the slow start will yield dynamic mockups in already tested browsers.

I started doing the MOMA nav revision by doing the following:

  • first doing quick wireframe sketches
  • quick photoshop mockup
  • finalized all structure in dreamweaver in code and design view simultaneously
  • tested dynamic sites in Safari, Firefox and IE

What I learned today:

Make your mockup using mostly markup.

hot tip of the day

Adobe CS5 launch April 12

The wait is over, the date is set! Moments ago, Adobe confirmed they will be officially launching Creative Suite 5 on Monday, April 12, 2010… This lines up well with earlier forecasts of a CS5 release date in mid April.  The event will be webcast worldwide at 11am ET / 8am PT and 5pm CEST on Adobe TV and is open to all who sign up here.