Book Review: Smashing Book 2

It’s been over a year since we took a look at Smashing Magazine’s very first publication, and the web industry has come a long way in twelve months. Today, we’re going to offering our thoughts on The Smashing Book #2, hailed as “sharing valuable practical insight into design, usability and coding”.

With a great range of contributors and big steps forward in shipping and physical design, let’s see how Smashing Magazine’s latest release stacks up!

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Physical Design & Quality

Smashing Magazine came under some criticism for the build quality and shipping of their first book, and this is something that they’ve gone to great lengths to solve – to great success. The typography is understated and enjoyable to read, and margins give plenty of space around the content.

The physical feel of the book is wonderful – a hard cover, high quality printing, stitch binding, and a funky orange bookmark all contribute to an enjoyable read. It’s not surprising to hear that Smashing Magazine are only offering the printed copy of the book (you won’t find an eBook version anywhere).

Although this might be an unpopular decision for some, you’ll understand why after holding the physical copy.

Contents & Style

So, on to the content. A valid question would be how this differs to the first Smashing Magazine book. After all, they’re both fairly generically pitched as covering “web design”. Here’s the official line on the matter:

Both books cover best practices in Web design and Web development, and they have similarities, but on a broad scale they cover different areas of design.

Book 1 presents coding and layout techniques, color theory und UI design, while Book 2 covers psychology, designing for mobile devices, graphic design, wireframing and book production. They complement each other very well but are also distinct enough for standalone reading.

Each chapter of the book is preceded with a wonderful illustration, designed by Yiying Lu (the designer behind the Twitter “fail whale”). These break up the content well, and really add to the overall quality feel of the book. If you really love the artwork, you can even purchase it as “wall art”!

The Smashing Book #2 has a wonderful array of contributors, and this is one aspect of these publications that I really enjoy. Each author is knowledgeable and talented in their own area, giving the content a degree of credibility that you don’t often see elsewhere.

The inherent downside is that the book doesn’t have a central narrative running throughout, and you can obviously feel the differences in writing style and personality with each chapter. Each section is almost a distinct “mini book”, giving you a beginning-to-end analysis of a particular theory, technique, or practice.

Whether you’re interested in going right back to the basics of design theory, crafting mobile user experiences, improving your wireframing technique, or getting to grips with web psychology, there’s something for you here. The content absolutely justifies the price, and you won’t be left disappointed.

Smashing Magazine is a fantastic source of ideas, content, and inspiration for the design community, and the level of quality you’ve come to expect is upheld here.

Where to Buy

As mentioned before, you can’t pick this one up as an eBook. You can, however, grab a sample chapter to get a feel for how the book is presented.

Smashing Magazine also had several chapters that they couldn’t fit into the finished book. These are available completely free, entitled Smashing Book #2: The Lost Files.

The price comes in at around $29.90 (23,90 Euro), and you can order your copy here. If you’ve already purchased and read the book, I’d love to know what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!