Smashing Magazine's The Mobile Book

I was recently sent a pre-release copy of the latest offering from Smashing Magazine – The Mobile Book and although I’m a little behind the curve thanks to my child like slow reading speed and attention span, I’m happy to say I’ve now finished and (I think) fully digested what I’ve read in the 337 pages of thoughts, tips and experiences from some of the industry’s leading designers and developers.

Despite its hefty page count, the book actually only has 7 chapters and includes  some very in depth writing from Peter Paul-Koch, Stephanie Reiger, Trent Walton, Brad Frost, Dave Olsen, Dennis Kardys and Josh Clark.

I’m not a big reader of design books, anyone in the office will testify to that. I’ve got piles of them sat on my desk unread and it’s not because they’re bad, it’s because I’m someone who spends a lot of time on Twitter following many of the people in the book and I read a massive amount of posts, thoughts, opinions etc in Google Reader. A lot of the content in this book is stuff I’ve read before on blogs, twitter or conference slides.

For me, this book did contain a couple of highlights, PPK’s opening chapter What’s Going On In Mobile and Stephanie’s Future of Mobile paint a very detailed and thought provoking history and future of the devices we’re all working so hard to support and create wonderful things for.

Josh Clark’s final chapter on Designing for Touch was valuable to me because I’m not an app designer and while I’m aware of some of the basics of creating sites that work on small screens, there is a lot more crossover between apps and responsive sites than I’d really considered before and some very useful tips on teaching users how to work an interface.

I want to be very clear here about the other chapters from Trent, Brad, Dave and Dennis – they are good, well written and insightful. If like me though, you follow these guys on Twitter or read their blogs regularly, you might have already read some of their thoughts and seen some version of the examples that are outlined in the book and for me personally these sections felt like a curated and easy to reference selection of content but in my case, content I’d already read elsewhere on their sites.

This being a personal review of course means that many others won’t have my background and won’t have read that content so if not – there’s a lot of good stuff to learn from and keep as a reference on your desk.

I don’t really know how I’d “rate” this book. It’s got a lot of great content, it’s well written by people I respect but some of it felt like we’re beginning to re-tread ground the “responsive design community” have covered in some detail over the last year but that we still fall back to the usual “it depends” or “there’s no one true approach” that seems prevalent in design at the moment. That’s probably a discussion for another day though.

If you’re actively forging ahead working on responsive sites or you follow a lot of the authors blogs or feeds, there’s a good chance you’ve already read the core of the thoughts outlined in this book and you’ve at least experimented with many of the techniques outlined but you’ll no doubt still pick up some great ideas through the course of the book and that’s worth at least €16,90 from your wallet or purse.

James Young

Written by James Young

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