Book Review: Mobile First

One thing I really like about the A Book Apart books I’ve read so far is how much they embrace making the experience as positive as possible for the end user. It isn’t about dumbing things down, it’s about making things concise, intuitive, and inviting. Embracing constraints and enhancing based on the device/software’s capabilities will enrich both your design and the user’s experience.

This carries through with their books, which get right to the point, and offer just enough personality and humor to balance out the more technical aspects of the discussion. The result is a book you can read through in a couple of lunch breaks, but it packed with terrific information. Mobile First by Luke Wrobleski fits perfectly into A Book Apart’s overall mission statement.

Mobile design is huge right now, and with the mobile market expanding at a geometric rate, that’s unlikely to change in the near future. Mobile First is as fine a non-technical primer on the subject as you could hope to find.

Book Review - Mobile First

Who is Mobile First For?

The book is primarily geared toward designers and developers who are exploring mobile. It primarily explores topics from a design perspective, but gets deep enough into the hows and whys to give developers a lot to work with as well.

However, it’s not super technical (there’s only one brief code snippet in the entire book), and would make solid reading for anyone who owns or runs a website, or anyone trying to convince a client or their own management team that mobile is a worthy investment.

What Mobile First Covers

The book is divided into two parts: “Why Mobile First”, and “How to Go Mobile”.

“Why Mobile First” sets the current technological stage, identifying how people are using the web right now, and why it’s so important to design sites to give them the best experience possible without stripping things down to bare bones. If you, your client, or your boss are on the fence about embracing responsive design, this section is for you.

The book’s second section dives into the hows and whys of designing for mobile. Again, it’s not technical, but goes into a lot of important design considerations. This part of the book is extremely well thought out, and should give you some really fresh perspectives on the topic.

One part that really stuck out to me was a diagram of a phone that mapped where the typical user can comfortably reach with his or her thumb. It breaks down how the users approach a device, and how designers and developers can use that information to enrich the experience.

What Works

  • I really like how the book works with the idea of embracing the natural constraints of mobile and using them to help you prioritize and determine what is really important.

  • The book opens with an extended look at why mobile matters, with both statistical and anecdotal evidence to demonstrate just how important the concept is.

What Doesn’t

  • My one complaint about this book is that the example something chop paragraphs and sentences in half, and when I get really into one of the examples, it’s a little jarring to jump back into the half-completed thought from before.

The Verdict

If you’re interested in learning about mobile design and why it matters, Mobile First is a much read. And if you’re just looking for new perspectives on design and user experience, this is a nice book to check out. It’s short and extremely informative; perfect for a flight or lunchtime reading.

Buy a copy of Mobile First.

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