Everyone is raving about the quality of book #2 compared to book #1 (or published media in general). I don't blame them. I almost didn't mention it, because everyone else has, but that was ALSO my initial thought upon receiving my copy of the book. Straight from the box, I instinctively noticed these things in this order:
First, I noticed that I can plop it in my purse, no problem (and I don't carry an overly-large purse!). It's not too heavy or too many square/cubic inches. That's important, because I dread getting a great book, but eyeballing how thick it is sometimes hurts as I rarely have time for reading real books. My arms aren't going to fall off trying to hold it up while I'm laying in bed reading it.
Second, most definitely the quality. Smashing Magazine did not skimp on getting this little ditty published. Quality, stitch-bound, hard cover and hefty pages that produce sharp graphics. It's a nice tight number that you'll probably keep on your desk or prop on a shelf just because it's so pretty.
Third, artwork and graphics, amazing! They seriously couldn't go wrong with using Yiying Lu (yes, forever known as the creator of the famous Fail Whale from Twitter.com). But seriously, who can resist that kind of work, I know my three year old can't! What three year old do you know peruses a web and graphic design book with focus and interest? I will admit mine has a great attention span, but still... I'm caught flipping through the pages simply studying the chapter artwork. I have to laugh at myself.
Fourth and last, the cutest little ribbon bookmark comes attached. What a nice little touch! I bet this is the most talked about ribbon bookmark in the history of books. I suppose I will not be lazily dog-earing my new book.
So hands down on the book construction and makeup. Smashing you get a full applause in that area (I think everyone else would agree, no?)!
I realize that you can make something look pretty dang great, but fill it with garbage. Not in this case. I might be a bit bias because I am a HUGE fan of Smashing Magazine and the fantastic information they continue to provide to the design and web communities.... I will note, however, that the previous Smashing Book #1 seemed somewhat of a letdown to a "few" folks, which has become more prevailiant with Book #2 being such a positive hit and maybe with more of a comeback in the comparisons being made.
My primary area is Design. Both in print and web. And I will openly admit, I'm not ever going to be in the one of the top designers of the world because of this and that - so a book like this is absolutely PERFECT for me. I think anyone who wants a nice review, more insight
What I enjoyed in the first chapter was the correlation between the two, how different and yet similar they are.
"It stands to reason, then, that the process of design involves making deliberate and appropriate graphical choices in order to best communicate the intended message. This applies as much to designing for the Web as it does to designing for print." - excerpt, page 15
What I most enjoyed about this chapter was it's focus on using design effectively and timelessly. When I was reading through the pages of Timeless Thinking - which included talk about simplicity, adding too much gaudy junk (aka ornaments), minimalism, contrast, space and tension... it really brought me back to the basics in art school and working with drawing techniques. Sometimes I feel that I start a project over-designing and after I get that part about needing to impress the client out of my system and go minimal, it never fails to be the winning pick - this chapter was a kick in the pants refresher.
Then I read on to variations of Type and its effectiveness as well as the role it plays. Overall, a golden chapter to set your path a little straighter or teach you a few things.
"While a good graphic designer works to create an attractive design for the client, a great graphic designer pushes further, striving to understand the crux of the project's objective. The great designer builds on the various concepts ..." - excerpt, page 44
My other favorite, is chapter 7: Applying Game Design Principles to User Experience Design. What I most enjoyed was the play off of understanding the correlation between the two to make an easier way to think about UX Design. My favorite part starting with the section, The Name of the Game which goes through each of the five key attributes of the "game" of online interaction. It became a fun way to think about UX Design.
In conclusion, I like that the end of each chapter will sum up with a number of useful resources, about the author, some history from that section and even a nice extra Reading List for more in-depth study on a subject if interested - actually, I would have liked more reading resources at the ends of more chapters. I thought that was very helpful and resourceful to place in one area, instead of having to dig back through my dog-eared and highlighted pages and notes to locate a good resource I just know I marked.
I do find that this book is something I will be keeping on my desk for some time to reference and re-reference when my mind is fogged or fighting to go a direction my gut knows I shouldn't.
Contest Rules are simple. This will be a random drawing of three lucky commenters who provide the following information in their comment:
Please provide what your specialty is be it Design Warlord, Freelance Web Designer or Couch Potato... but seriously, I would like to know what you do for money or fun in the relationship to wanting the book in your grubby little paws.
The contest will run from March 10th, 2011 through March 18th, 2011 - Winners will be announced the following week, Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011. Winners will also be emailed via Love Notes on COLOURlovers.com so make sure you turn your notifications ON for both in-site and email so that I can collect your address and get your prize out ASAP. Contest is for COLOURlovers.com users only, so if you aren't a member, get signed up and get commenting!
update: Did I forget to mention you can of course buy the book here (at SmashingMagazine.com) as well as preview a sample from the book and get other details. Pop on over and check it out!
But wait there's MORE! Apparently there was just too much good stuff to go to print, so Smashing Magazine is GIVING you a FREE eBOOK called The Lost Files (free eBook).
Results will be posted Tuesday, March 22nd (unless they magically appear on Monday the 21st. ;) Have a great weekend everyone!