Don’t Be A Wimp. Robin Williams – The Non-Designers’s Design Books

The Non-Designer's Design Book

A guy called Robin Williams (not thé Robin Williams) wrote The Non-Designer’s Design Book. The book helps non-designer’s understand what is important in design.

There are four guiding principles of design:

  • Proximity, meaning: put stuff together that belongs together.
  • Alignment: elements should be (visually) connected to something else, consistently. Use lines to draw connections (or to identify lack of connections). Centered alignment should be avoided, and only applied very consciously.
  • Repetition: tells us to repeat elements to unify and strengthen a piece. Take a repetitive element for example and repeat it to emphasize it’s importance. But don’t overdo it.
  • Contrast: draw attention by making things (more) different. If things are not the same, do not make them look the same.

The Fifth Principle: Don’t Be A Wimp. Meaning: do not be afraid to be different.


The color wheel: primary colors + others. Complementary colors. Triads: at a third of the wheel.
Shades and Taints: add black resp white to the color.
Warm/cool colors have red resp blue in them.

CYMK vs RGB: color schemes for printer resp monitor.


The second half of the book is a treatment on Typography. When to use quotes, which quotes, spaces, apostrophes, dashes, underlining (never!).

Typographic types & relationships.
Concordant: one type family without much variety. Can be strong.
Conflicting: similar types but not the same. Avoid.
Contrasting: clearly distinct. Complementing. Can be strong when done well.

Types of types: Old style, Modern, Slab serif, Sans serif, Script, Decorative.
Type contrasts: size, weight, structure, form, direction, color.

Basic approach to improve design:
– start with a focal point, with contrast
– group the information, create proximity, strong alignment
– create repetition
– have strong contrasts

Don’t be a wimp!

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