Author: Kristofer Layon
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Aimed at: Designer developers
Pros: Attractive layout, readable style
Cons: Lacks technical depth
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
The subtitle "Develop and Design" suggests this book might cover both design and technical principles. Does it fulfil this promise?
Converting a website into a mobile friendly experience is generally thought to be a difficult task. This book makes it look easy in that it doesn't have many pages and it looks easy to read. It is part of a series aimed at "designer developers" which seems like a great idea - let's get designers up to speed with the technology.
However when you get to Chapter 1 you start to wonder if the book is going to deliver on anything technical at all. The chapter is full of headings such as "devices aren't mobile - people are" which sound good but are not going to get your CSS sorted out. The chapter discusses the philosophy of a mobile experience and closes with a short introduction to the Kano model of customer satisfaction.
Chapter 2 is a little more technical in that it considers the requirements of a mobile layout. This starts off considering fixed versus variable width layout. This is interesting, but basically comes down to "use a variable width layout that will adjust to a smaller screen automatically". Of course, it makes use of the CSS media element to scale the screen so at least we are creating some CSS.
From here we move on to the first of the three interviews contained in the book. If you find this sort of thing useful then it will be a plus point - personally I just found it irritating.
Chapter 3 takes up the challenge of creating mobile sites again with a look at navigation. After some design waffle we get to scaling a menu and making it look as if has buttons. Chapter 4 is about images and basically about sizing. However, page 69 has some vendor prefixes to create a grid layout. No discussion of how to cope with vendor prefixes is provided. Chapter 5 deals with text and starts with an argument about how to measure the size of text by points or by ems.
Chapter 6 discusses the use of forms but only from the point of view of how they look - noting about validation or working with code. Chapter 7 is on social media. chapter 8 is on content strategy and both are very waffly.
Chapter 9 is a very non-technical look at how jQuery mobile might help and Chapter 10 tackles an even more technical subject - device detection and php - in a way that is so non-technical that it makes you wonder why the chapter is included.
The problem with finding an audience for this book is that it is probably too technical for a pure designer and not technical enough if you can program. It isn't really suitable for the beginner because it doesn't explain the first principles of HTML/CSS and it certainly isn't suitable for the expert because it doesn't go anywhere.
So if you fall into a tiny band of people who have just enough knowledge of the technicalities, want to concentrate on design and perhaps practice a few lines of CSS to achieve your results, you might get something from reading it. If you are even slightly technical you will find it too shallow.