Review of 'Smashing Book #6'

14th of May, 2019

TLDR: This book has a few annoying and easily avoidable flaws, but the content is generally great. I would recommend it to developers, or even non-tech people in tech settings. 8/10. Smashing Book Six Cover

The proper title of this book is Smashing Book #6: New Frontiers in Web Design which is a fairly fitting title; it is definitely mostly about web design, but it’s broader than that. Personally, I would have switched out ‘Web Design’ for ‘Front-end design’.

The print version of the book is 536 pages long, and is divided into 10 chapters, which can be read independently of each other. Each chapter is written by a different author, and topics vary greatly, with no overall theme beyond ‘Web Design’ (or, rather, front-end design).

Topics covered are design systems, accessibility, modern CSS features, service workers, web/browser performance, chat bots, XR (VR, AR), and uniqueness in website design. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is.

The bad 👎

Let’s start with the few things that could have been better.

Layout and typographical errors (this book also comes in an ebook version, which may not suffer from these issues); for print, this book has an extraordinarily high rate of minor spelling mistakes, as well as layout issues - more than once, the book asks the reader to look at illustrations ‘below’, which in reality appear on the next page, or before the text. There are small spelling mistakes as well. Both of these issues were enough to annoy me, but did not ruin my overall impression of the book at all.

A few of the chapters suffer from a lack of focus, hovering over topics without explaining them, or shallowly touching upon one thing, only to abandon it and dive into the real focus later on.

The last issue I took with this book is a peculiar one, because it is both one of my favourite (spoilers), and least favourite qualities of the book - the lack of a focus for the book as a whole. Some of the chapters are related, for example, there are two chapters on chat bots, but the content is mostly unconnected. Each article works on its own, and this makes it hard to read the book in one go, without getting topic-whiplash.

The good 👍

With all the bad out of the way, let me talk about what makes this book good.

The cover of the printed book is among the nicest of all the books I own. It is fabric bound, and beautifully decorated with gold embossing… very chic 👌The pages themselves are also printed in nice colours, with a pleasant and simple layout, on heavy glossy paper.

Almost all 10 chapters lives up to the description given ’No chit-chat or theory. Just things that worked, in actual projects’. Most chapters give concrete, actionable advice within their topic. As such, the book is very practical, and makes it easy to implement the ideas discussed. This is especially true for the topics on accessibility, performance, and personality.

Finally, aforementioned lack of direction can be seen as a blessing, rather than a curse. It is a wild ride, but I felt like I covered topics I would not normally read about; not necessarily for a lack of interest, but rather a lack of motivation. Having bought the book, it makes sense to read all the chapters, and each and every chapter taught me something new. Even if a topic was not specifically related to anything I do, it was easy (and fun 🤓) to draw parallels.

Who should read this book? 🤔

I recommend this book to most people who work within development, or web design. Of course, the book is mostly targeted at front-end developers, UX and web designers, but even if you are less involved with the front-end, or even if you are non-technical in a tech setting (say, a sales person in a tech company), this book will set your thoughts in motion, and will likely teach you something useful.

I enjoyed it immensely, and I rate it 8/10 (stars? 🤩)

Thank you for reading this review. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope that you found it useful. If you buy the book, please feel free to share your opinion with me once you read it (maybe on Twitter? @gilstroem).

If you know someone who might be inspired by this review, or who is considering buying the book, please feel free to share the link to this review, by clicking on the link below.

I’ve been Niko, and you’ve been great ❤️🙏 Catch you later

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