Christine Sevilla's Information Design Desk Reference is a comprehensive guide to (you guessed it) information design. The book starts out with a section on knowing your audience, and how to teach them clearly and effectively, before going into different types of design. She teaches us about page design, color, document appearance, and graphics, as well as more specific mediums like brochures, video presentations and websites. One of the biggest strengths of the Information Design Desk Reference is that it's written by someone that's a professional in the field. Throughout her analysis of different types of design, Sevilla sprinkles in stories about her own personal experience from designing her own business cards, to reformatting medical forms. Such moments give the book a certain amount of credibility, and a lot of helpful extra tips. For example, her section on doing presentations not only has information about designing presentations but also about possible technical errors that may arise, and even suggestions for how to connect well with the audience.
Information Design Desk Reference is, as one might expect, designed with comprehension in mind. The font is easy on the eyes so you can read pages and pages with ease. The book itself has wide margins so your fingers don't block the text as you read, and it provides plenty of space if you chose to write notes. Sevilla's style of writing is straight forward and easy to understand, a must for any text book. There is also an occasional moment of humor, which was not expected, but made the book more enjoyable to read. My one complaint is that graphically the book is not that pretty. Oftentimes the illustrations in in the margins are visually unappealing. They are, with exception of the chapters on color, entirely in black in white which increases it's blandness. Granted, the illustrations do do a great job of getting the a point across, so if that's all you're looking for as a reader of this book, you should be satisfied. I also expect the lack of color decreased the cost of the text book, which probably makes it worth the sacrifice, as I had quite a few books to purchase this semester!
The book did have it's limitations. Although Information Design Desk Reference gives a lot of great information on elements of design, and goes into a lot of areas, it skimps on the details. If you're going to make a website or brochure for a business, this may not be the best book for you as this book is far from a how-to. It's meant more for people looking for an overall review of information design, such as people in a classroom (like me!). Although I don't have the confidence that I could make a poster of video for a company, I do know that the knowledge I found in this book will be very helpful in crafting my final project for my class which involves making a video, a poster, a and brochure. Published in 2002, the book is also somewhat dated when it comes to the chapters that focus on technology (such as the website chapters) so if you're looking to create a great website, this book has some great tips on design, buy you're going to have to supplement it with something more current.
Despite it's flaws, Christine Sevilla's Information Design Desk Reference is an informative book that's quite readable and filled with a lot of interesting concepts. Although I would probably recommend a more current book for people focusing on anything related to technology, much of the information it provides still feels applicable today.
Rating: four stars
Length: 315 pages
Source: amazon used
Challenge: This book is part of the New Genre Challenge
Similar Books: The Non-Designer's Web Book, 3rd Edition by Robin Williams and John Tollett (my review)
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first
xposted to bookish , temporaryworlds , and goodreads