Book Review: Mobile Web Design

Size isn't everything, regardless of what you may have heard in the past. While having the world's biggest flat screen monitor hooked up to your computer may afford great immersive views on some pages on the web, it's not always entirely necessary, or even desirable. Sometimes, all you need is a quick hit, a snippet of information without the distraction. And some times you may want that information while on the move, using your mobile phone on the train, when clutter and needless downloads are a pain, not a 'feature'.

Someone else who believes that size isn't everything is Cameron Moll, and that's no slight on any of his personal 'attributes' but rather a bit of commentary on the svelte nature of his book Mobile Web Design. At around 100 pages with images and a good amount of white space for breathing, you may at first think "This is a bit of a con!" But first impressions are often wrong, and a quick glance at some of the plaudits for the book soon put your mind at rest:

Very good and clearly written. Certainly another great reference to help people find their way in the world of the Mobile Web
Jo Rabin, DotMobi Director and W3C Co-Chair

This is the one book you should buy above others if you are interested in this field. If you need to justify why you should create a mobile web strategy then this book should convince you that it is worthwhile
David Storey, Opera Software

I could almost end the review there, as those quotes pretty much sum things up nicely. The book is very well written, easy to follow – no mean feat given the mess that the mobile web arena is in! – and I found that I just wanted to plough on through it as quickly as possible, absorbing all the information.

Mobile Web Design is not massively technical in nature – there are very few code snippets that you can make use of here – rather it's a snapshot of the market as it currently stands, a snapshot that reveals all the various foibles and pitfalls that a developer faces. It offers a number of statistics and convincing scenarios about the way mobile web has gained momentum and will continue to across the globe and presents a number of strategies for getting on board.

I found that after reading the book – and particularly because I now find myself among the user base that cares about the amount of data consumed on the phone – it really made me think in a different way with regards how I would develop my next site(s). Instead of thinking of a desktop machine (Mac/PC/Linux etc) as the baseline, it's got me thinking that that the start point should be mobile, and that the extra layers are added on, progressive enhancement style, for those platforms that can make most use of it. Whether that approach will work depends very much on the nature of the content of the site, but it's testament to the book that it has me looking at things in a slightly different way.

So, to add to the chorus of quotes already on the book's cover, I definitely recommend that anyone interested in finding out more about developing for mobile web get a copy of this book. It will save you hours of time wading through the documentation online (and save you the hassle of working out which contradictory papers are correct!) and will ultimately benefit the user sat on a train on the way home after a day's work who's being forced to download War & Peace when all they want to do is read the summary version.

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Title Mobile Web Design
Where to buy Buy from Amazon US, Amazon UK or direct from author
Publisher Self-published (via
Written by     Cameron Moll
ISBN-10 0615185916
ISBN-13 978-0615185910