Book Review: The New Smashing Magazine’s Mobile Book

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Smashing Magazine as a Reviewer. However, I did not receive any payment or conditions for my review.

After spending a week reading the Mobile Book in my spare time (Yes, I read it!), I have the satisfaction of providing my sincere review.  Feel free to ask me any specific questions in the comment section, and if you have read it, please feel free to give your own opinions as well.

Even though you may think this book is about Responsive Web Design, this book is really intended to go beyond RWD, as it covers designing for mobile devices in general (Native and Web apps). RWD is covered in the second part of the book, but it is just part of a larger topic. So, please don’t think that this book is about RWD. In fact, Smashing Magazine has another book named Responsive Design that covers this topic in detail.

In general, I really liked the Mobile Book because not only does it give insightful information about designing for mobiles, but also because it provides references to external materials and links.  This is something that some books are missing in case you want to look for more information about the topics discussed in the book. In addition, the book is organized into three parts: The Mobile Landscape, Responsive Web Design, and UX Design for Mobile. The following is a description of the parts and their chapters:

Part 1: The Mobile Landscape

What’s Going On In Mobile? by Peter-Paul Koch aka PPK

In the first chapter, PPK provides an overall state of mobile landscape. He explains in detail the main problems he found with mobile devices, especially with their web browsers. Furthermore, he provides some tips or best practices that are currently used in order to develop web applications for mobiles. As browsing in mobile devices is something relatively new, PPK explains the different browsers used in mobiles and their advantages and disadvantages.  I liked this chapter because it provides useful examples, where the reader can actually see examples of these principles. Great work!

The Future Of Mobile by Stephanie Rieger

Stephanie dives into another general topic, which is the future of computers and devices that would be connected by sharing information. In addition, she covers the future technologies that probably will be used to enhance the user experience in mobile devices. All in all, it was very interesting and useful information.

Part 2: Responsive Web Design

Responsive Design Strategy by Trent Walton

Here is when the code starts! Trent Walton gives you the basics of Responsive Web Design in order to convert a traditional layout design to a most responsive design using CSS. The article covers how to create responsive images, maintaining the ratio of videos, the proper use of media queries to create resolution independent designs, the relative units used in media queries to maintain the flexibility of the designs, etc. In addition, he provides some general patterns on how to ship and display content depending on the resolution of the devices. This chapter was a good read on a great topic, with very essential information.

Responsive Design Patterns by Brad Frost

This chapter is dedicated exclusively to Responsive Web Design Patterns. Brad Frost not only explains the patterns, but also, he gives examples where they are applicable in terms of usability. Very easy to read, with practical information!

Optimizing For Mobile by Dave Olson

One of the biggest downfalls with Responsive Web Design is the amount of unnecessary data that is downloaded by mobile devices even though they are not shown on the screen. The author provides the importance of performance in mobile devices. Moreover, he describes the most recent techniques on the server side as client side in order to improve the performance of the responsive websites in general. Amazing chapter and a must read!

Part 3: UX Design for Mobiles

Hands-On Design For Mobile by Dennis Kardys

Dennis describes common assumptions and mistakes that developers and designers make when in the process of designing and developing mobile apps. Those assumptions lead to problems that Dennis provides in detail. One of the assumptions defined by the author is “We Assume that Most Devices are as Capable as Our Own,” which I consider to be true because most designers or developers only test on the devices they own and believe everything is working properly. As I come from a developing country (Dominican Republic), I can testify that even though we have some advantages in telecommunications, there are a lot of people with dated phones. Furthermore, the second part of the chapter discusses the processes and techniques to design mobile applications in general. Another chapter with some great useful information.

Designing For Touch by Josh Clark

In this chapter, Josh provides guidelines to design for devices with touch screens. Moreover, it is good to note that the guidelines are for touchscreens in general and are not exclusively related to Responsive Web Design. The devices covered are smartphones, tablets, and hybrids, which are traditional PCs with touchscreens. The author explains how users handle and interact with their mobile devices and the best practices on how to place the navigation buttons on the screen depending on the device. In addition, he gives guidelines at the moment of designing button for touchscreen and the problem they have when they are too small, too close, or too close. Also, the implementation of gestures can lead to eliminating redundant buttons. The hardest chapter to read, but the information is nonetheless significant.

Conclusion

All in all, I think the Mobile book is a perfect book for web designers and developers of all levels, and I am excited that again the Smashing Books live up to the hype.  If you are a Web Designer or Web Developer, I think this book is a must read, as it provides very comprehensive information, that is both useful and essential.  Additionally, I really recommend this book to anybody that is planning to develop mobile devices in general. As I said before, this book covers the present, future, of mobile design and development. Also, it covers in detail the most popular patterns and techniques necessary to develop mobile and web apps. So, if you are thinking of buying a book right now, this should be in your library because it is a great that will help in your professional development.

Other Details about the book

  • 336 pages, 16.5 x 24.0 cm (6.5 x 9.5 inches).
  • Quality hardcover with sewn binding and a ribbon.
  • The printed book is also available as an eBook (PDF, EPUB, Kindle).
  • Book’s weight: 1.1 kg
  • The 5 extra chapters are available in a separate eBook:
    • Mobile UX Design Patterns by Greg Nudelman and Rian van der Merwe
    • Developing And Designing For iOS by Nathan Barry
    • Developing And Debugging HTML5 Apps by Remy Sharp
    • Understanding The Android Platform by Sebastiaan de With
    • Designing For The Windows Phone by Arturo Toledo
Teylor Feliz
Teylor Feliz

Teylor is a seasoned generalist that enjoys learning new things. He has over 20 years of experience wearing different hats that include software engineer, UX designer, full-stack developer, web designer, data analyst, database administrator, and others. He is the founder of Haketi, a small firm that provides services in design, development, and consulting.

Over the last ten years, he has taught hundreds of students at an undergraduate and graduate levels. He loves teaching and mentoring new designers and developers to navigate the rapid changing field of UX design and engineering.

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