17 February 2015
Over the Course of the holidays I read through a few more titles from A Book Apart. It's taken me a little while to get around to posting about them, but hopefully I can still remember enough to make relevant commentary.
I was slightly annoyed at the first half of this book which was intent on selling me the idea of mobile first design, not because the sales pitch was bad but because I was already sold on the idea. I was hoping for more concrete ideas on what a mobile first design process looked like. The second half promised to be more practical, and though it delivered on that promise it still wasn't exactly what I was expecting or hoping for.
Part two offered a lot of concrete and valueable tips for designing for mobile devices. I can't knock it for the value of it's content, but since the title of the book wasn't "Designing for Mobile" I was a little dissapointed. What I was expecting to see was examples of how the mobile first strategy improved the entire design process, even the desktop part.
There was good stuff here, it just wasn't the book I was looking for.
Content Strategy For Mobile
I could knock Karen McGrane's book for a misleading title like I did for Wroblewski's Mobile First, but since she delivers more than promised rather than less I won't complain. This book might more aptly be titled "Content Strategy in the age of Mobile" or "Strategy for Adaptive Content." What McGrane delivers is a well thought out, and despite its brevity suprisingly comprehenseive discussion of building mobile-friendly content.
Written for those who manage large websites, the key theme here is that smaller screens should not necessitate less content. On this point she even takes Luke Wroblewski's Mobile First to task for praising a website that discarded supposedly non-essential content on its mobile version in the name of a cleaner layout.
This book provided a lot of food for thought by demonstrating that responsive/adaptive/mobile websites require flexible content. When it comes to sites with a large body of content and a CMS not built with mobile sites in mind, adaptive content requires a deliberate strategy.
Responsible Responsive Design
Ethan Marcotte's Responsive Web Design introduced me to media queries and opened up a world of design possibilities with a few simple tricks. Scott Jehl's follow-up reigns in that euphoria and offers some slightly more complex methods for doing responsive sites well.
For Jehl, responsive design doesn't just mean designing for multiple screen sizes. It means taking into consideration usability, access, sustainability, and performance accross a multitude of platforms, devices, networks and users.
I've turned back to this book repeatedly since my initial read through, especially to his chapter on performance. He offers a number of concrete methods for delivering code and images more efficiently and thus making a website faster. Even now as I flip through it to write this review I'm finding tidbits I'd like to review. This book has undoubtedly improved the quality of my work.