Review: the mobile web is Smashing!

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December 19, 2012
Review: the mobile web is Smashing!.

Since the dawn of the mobile web, the design and development landscape has changed drastically. Today, no one working in the field can argue with the lasting impact that this market will have on the future of the industry. This is an interesting shift to have watched develop, and many of us are eager to see where it is going.

The Mobile Book, brand new from the Smashing Magazine team, looks at the growing and expansive mobile market from every possible angle.

With so many leading experts and innovative thinkers coming together to work on this fourth printed tome, The Mobile Book is a timely addition to the global discussion on designing for a mobile web.

While it would be foolish of me to presume that having finished the book, I am ready to conquer the mobile market, that is almost how I feel having poured through the pages of this engaging book.

The Mobile Book

From the very first section in which Peter-Paul Koch dissects the global device market to help paint a clear picture of what is happening with mobile and what we are faced with as designers and developers when we enter into this arena, to Josh Clark's final section which takes us deeper in to the specifics of designing for touch, this book is something of a gem.

The Mobile Book kicks off with an intriguing and complete look at how the battle for control over the consumer mindshare between device vendors, carriers, and browser vendors has shaped the oft fragmented mess that developers have been dealing with for years now. This is more than just a breakdown of the market, it is a very telling and informative introduction to the world of mobile.

Further sections dive into the specifics of working in the mobile design and development field, and really do help to arm and prepare you for these professional exploits. However, I felt the section on the possible roads this will take us down could have just as easily been omitted and included in the supplemental ebook additions, The Mobile Book may have been all the better for it.

The Mobile Book

One area where The Mobile Book does not falter, is in its well thought out approach to informing the reader not only about how the market works, but how you can effectively work within the market.

The world is still very much divided on mobile devices and the market is regionally divided. The Mobile Book does a great job of not only addressing this disparity, but preparing those who wish to take it on with the tools they need to succeed in the market. Loaded with tips and techniques, parts II and III of the book are akin to a mobile web workers' bible, and should be required reading of anyone who works in the field.

So much practical and applicable information is provided that beginners and seasoned pros alike will benefit from the pages of the book and the magic they hold. For example, there is one bit of advice that really landed with me, and will do the same with anyone who sees the sheer volume of mobile devices as a roadblock to solid development for the small freelancers and developers out there: identifying the building of a mobile device lab as one of the biggest challenges facing mobile developers today, the simple words of wisdom provided help to make the market more accessible for those whose reach it may have otherwise exceeded. It is things like this, which make the book more than a resource, but a bit of a treasure.

The Content Choreography segment of Trent Walton's section of the book also stood out as important and noteworthy as he moves from an in-depth examination of the various means for building flexible layouts, to pointing out important content considerations with regards to stacking. Considerations, unfortunately, that many in the field ignore.

The Mobile Book

Brad Frost's follow-up on the numerous ways to organize your adjusting layout, superbly compliments and expands the discussion in a very strategic manner. Wrapping with a look at conditional loading that should be a must read for any content strategy minded members of the community. These sections do a great job both passively and actively addressing the amount of thought and priority that should be going into the content you are seeking to 're-distribute' as it's presented on varying devices.

That is one of the many highlights of The Mobile Book, no matter what area of the design and development field you call home and where you focus your expertise, this new book from Smashing has something for you. Be it front-end or back-end, layout or function, UX or content delivery, the book has information that will have you ready to step up to the plate in this evolving landscape.

With over 300 pages of useful, topical content (not to mention the colorful and stylish section break illustrations the Smashing Books are known for having), this new foray into the world of mobile design scores on nearly every front! In the closing section of the book, Dennis Kardys fabulously prepares us for tackling the future of mobile from a UX perspective, by asking us to abandon all of our 'inherited' understanding of the field. A powerful notion, indeed, and one that will serve us well as we move forward.

As Josh Clark's closing section reminds us, touch has changed everything, and as the evolution continues we have to keep thinking of new and innovative ways to incorporate and grow this powerful UX element that has carved a whole new approach to web interaction. In this one final segment, Josh manages to bring everything full circle back to this one developmental break-through, reminding us, as Stephanie Rieger did early on, that it is that kind of innovation, the unexpected ones we never see coming, that can alter the entire game.

The Mobile Book serves as a complete guide to all things mobile, but also as a testament to the adaptability and power of this developing market and those who work to shape and make it what it is today. The wave of our connected futures.

Have you read Smashing magazine's latest book? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments.

Rob Bowen

Rob Bowen is an emerging filmmaker, celebrated author/podcaster and poet, and most recently the co-founder and imaginative co-contributor of the creative design and blogging duo at the Arbenting and Dead Wings Designs.

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