[Review] The Smashing Book

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Smashing Magazine one of the best design blogs on the internet, known for its lists of inspiration, design examples and tutorials recently published a book, The Smashing Book. At the website smashing magazine the community had decisions on the topics for the book, a new way of getting the potential readers into this book. The authors of Smashing Magazine combined forces and wrote this great book.

The Smashing Book

The Smashing Book
In summary the book is about everything you need to know to create websites, from design, typography, layout, color usage, interface design, coding, branding, web-development and much much more. At the end of the book is an interesting topic; Learning from experts, which includes interviews and insights on common topics when designing and creating websites. The last chapter is the Smashing Magazine Story, Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman go deeper into how Smashing started and where it is today and in the future.

The first pages show the table of contents which is a bit to short for me, headlines only. What interests me is what I can learn at the chapters of the book. If I want to use this book as reference guide when working on a project I quickly need to find the information and how I can learn from that. Here’s mine interpretation of what you will learn from The Smashing Book.

The Smashing Book

The Smashing Book

1. User interface design in modern web applications

Dmitry Fadeyev talks about the theory as well as the practical techniques involved in visual interface design, starting with the basics characteristics of interface design to how information is adapted combined with many examples.

2. The art and science of CSS-Layouts

Jacob Gube and Kayla Knight go deeper into the need and basics designing websites in CSS layouts. They discuss four types of layouts: fixed-width, fluid, elastic and hybrid, all accompanied by examples and DIY CSS code. In conclusion they give well advise on what to choose for your next web design.

3.(Web) Typography: Rules, guidelines and common mistakes

This chapter describes methods and techniques for typography on the web and what characteristics are best practice for (large) content websites in readability, line length and line height as well as a short typographical terms index. The chapter goes deeper into the balance in typography within design, placement and legibility, with examples and most popular typefaces available. Further on in this chapter the authors Alessandro Catteneo, Yves Peters and Jon Tan talks about text replacement techniques and how that can benefit your design. Great read!

4. Usability principles for Modern Websites

Andrew Maier and David Leggett takes it deeper into the principles of an usable website design by setting out the characteristics on what is important and to whom it concerns. This chapter is accompanied by many examples and practical tips to create an usable website design.

5. The ultimate guide to fantastic color usage in web design, usability and experience

What an enormous title Darius A Monsef IV came up with, anyway this chapter tells you about color in web design. This chapter is full of examples and color wheels but it is not really learning you anything about color or how to use color wheels in website design.

6. Performance optimization for websites

Rene Schmidt tells about techniques on how to improve the website performance with short and practical examples. A bit too technical for me.

7. Design to sell, increasing conversion rates

Dmitry Fadeyev wrote this great chapter on focus and placement. With practical tips the author talks about the AIDA sales funnel and how to get website visitors into buying something from your website.

8. How to turn a site into a remarkable brand

Chris Spooner takes it step by step in how to create a website that sticks… With many examples and principles this chapter tells you how to create your own brand.

Learning from the experts: Interviews and Insights

The Smashing Book
Steven Snell got together with over 20 expert designers and developers to share their knowledge and philosophy in design topics. The panel discusses the following topics design & development, the design process, self improvement and skill development and business and freelancing. A true gem of the Smashingbook where designers give their opinion and practical tips on the process. Everything wrote in a very accessible way. #mustread

Behind the curtains: The Smashing Magazine Story

The last chapter is devoted to the Smashing Story, Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman talks about the start up of The Smashing Magazine and how everything evolved to where SM is today.

Book vs online

The Smashing Book
The Smashing Magazine (online) is a great resource of information when you are into learning design, typography and inspiration. The book is a reflection of the online information but more in an educational manner and you will pick up the book more likely to learn something and use it effectively. With online media you quickly scan the pages and move on, therefore I believe the book will be a huge improvement for spreading knowledge and will become a springboard for those who are interested in this field.

I hope SM will continue to publish the great online content and start series of Smashing books with practical learning content.

Hardware quality and size of the book

The Smashing Book
After two weeks of intense reading the Smashingbook seems to fall apart, the binder is very though, this makes it hard to open pages and lay the book beside the computer to type in the example code or check a reference online. To my opinion the book is a bit too small for its content, great content but it doesn’t read very easy. I would suggest for future books to use a larger book size, less pages and more white space on the pages.

Conclusion

The Smashing Book is a great, really great book for everybody who is interested in design and web-development. Especially the typography and learning from the experts chapters where inspirational resources to me. The content is great but I believe the layout of the pages should be as a book. Support the Smashing Magazine Book by ordering your copy and I hope SM will continue the concept of bringing the content by book.

Availability of The Smashing Book

Currently the Smashing Book is available through the SM website shop for $29,90 or €23,90 and payment is processed with many available options such as creditcard and paypal.

Did you buy they book, please share your opinion about the Smashing Book in the comments, thank you in advance!

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