Redesign The Web by Smashing Magazine

We are very excited to review the brand new Smashing Magazine book, REDESIGN THE WEB.  I’ll start by saying that I would not only recommend this book to every designer, but it is a must for any person who is in the position to make decisions about their website. Why do I think this? Understanding the how and why behind design allows you to learn the types of questions you should be asking about your website and will help the entire design process immensely.

Let’s start by taking a look at the table of contents:

Chapter 1, The Business Side of Redesign, was my favorite chapter in the book. Focusing on the business of design is by far the most important part. This concept can sometimes be overlooked when you get caught up in “making it pretty”. “The most powerful defense against fashion is simple: we must ask why.” Great tip to try next time your clients wants a “make my website look like that” design.

Another great point brought up in this chapter is the designer-client relationship. I agree that many of these relationships are broken. Without the client understanding the how and why behind your work they tend to focus on the looks, not the purpose. Here are some pointers to create a better relationship.

Chapter 2 dives into the technical needs of a company and offers some basic advice for clients when it comes to exercising their options and choosing the right platforms for their needs. This includes everything from choosing the right content management system to your commerce platform.

The following chapters cover the basics of HTML5, the great advantages of using CSS3, and some of the new features and benefits both of these languages have to offer. It also touches upon Javascript and some tricks to replace complex JQuery. If you are familiar with both HTML + CSS, you will understand the tips and pointers these chapters have to offer. Here is just an example of what you will find:

Source: Page 107

Chapter 7 goes over a variety of Photoshop tools at your disposal. Most of these techniques are pretty basic if you are a Photoshop know-it-all, however there might be a few that you didn’t know about. If you are new to photoshop, this chapter is a perfect way to learn some new techniques. Here is an example of  from the book:

The later chapters go into the theory behind design as well as the overall brand. Topics covers are designing with personality and techniques to build better user experiences. Both are very important and something you as a designer can never be reminded of too many times.

The chapter, Designing With Personality, was another stand out chapter of this book. Personality really is what sets brands apart. Below are some examples listed of the benefits of creating a personality.

The concept below is extremely valuable. Copywriting isn’t always taken into account in design, but in terms of building a brand with personality, it is a very key element that must be given some thought.

A great example quoted from Chapter 10: “GE made its giant corporation feel more humanly by sharing the individual personality of its workforce. It showed us the passion and pride it has for its craft. and we felt it.

There is a landing page strategy that can absolutely benefit you, further than getting early access sign-ups, that is brought up in this book. This is known as the “hidden survey”. You can gauge interest and demand of a product that hasn’t even been built yet just by monitoring the number of early-access sign ups. Another great way is offering a short “Help Us Build Something You Want” survey asking them a few short questions geared toward getting valuable information that you can use. Getting to know the people that use your product is the best way to build a product.

If you are just starting in the field of design, this book is definitely for you. It will quickly get you up to speed and give you some great pointers that will most improve your current workflow.

If you are well into the field of design this book might not offer entirely new concepts. Still, there is always an opportunity to learn and overall, it is definitely worth reading to see what new ideas you can take away from it.

Get your copy of the new Smashing Magazine book, Redesign The Web.

Allison is the blog editor and gal behind the Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest at COLOURlovers. When she is not spreading color love around the web, she writes and manages Engaged & Inspired, a wedding blog and vendor resource for brides.