Book: Product Design for the Web

I read a lot – somewhere between 50 and 100 books a year. I prefer long form (books) to medium form (articles, blog posts), although I read plenty of that as well. I’m a visual learner, so I learn a lot more from reading than I do by listening to a lecture or a video.

I’m always curious what my friends are reading and often grab books they recommend. Last week Fred Wilson wrote a post recommending two books including Randy Hunt’s Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Web Products. I grabbed them both.

I read Randy’s book yesterday while procrastinating working on my next book, Startup Opportunities. Randy was the Creative Director at Etsy for a number of years and has written a strong, easy to read, and very accessible book for anyone interested in better understanding how to design web products. And, he does a great job of defining a “web product” as much more than just a web site – think Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter – and all the corresponding pieces including the APIs, native apps, mobile apps, and website.

I love the way this book starts off – with a quote from Paola Antonelli, MoMA Senior Curator of Architecture & Design + Director of R&D.

“People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It’s not about giving shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”

If that sounds a little Steve Jobsian, and it resonates with you, then you will enjoy this book. Randy treats the subject simply and clearly. He does it in a way that anyone who is not a natural designer or developer will understand. It’s not about UX, UI, IxD, or any other initialisms or TLAs. It’s about product design.

Thanks Fred for the recommendation. While short, I learned a couple of things, which made my time with this book worthwhile. And, for the zillions of entrepreneurs out there who think they grok how to design things, I recommend this book as you’ll learn something that will make you even better at what you do.

  • Kelly James

    I sent this to my kindle the other day and am looking forward to reading it. Glad to know it’s a good read.

  • I’m a big reader too Brad, but I don’t keep up with you. Every time you write “I read this book yesterday” or Saturday or whatever I always wonder exactly what that means. How long does it take you to read an average book?

    • I usually read most books in one or two days.

      • When I do that, I’m in the book *all* day, but I imagine you sitting down after dinner and reading a book in 90 minutes. 🙂

        • I read between 50 and 100 pages / hour in a typical book (depending on the book, density of the material, and how rested I am) so I can devour most books in two to four hours.

          • So the legend is true – excellent!