God's Smuggler

4 comments | Posted: 14 January 06 in Featured, by Ryan Heneise

URL: godssmuggler.org.uk

This is definitely not your ordinary mini-site. This is a gem example of how to pack a lot of value into a clean, easy to use package, and then deliver it on the web.

Designed by Jon Hicks, the UK-based designer whose work I have admired for a long time, God’s Smuggler is a mini-site for the book of the same name. I shouldn’t be, but I am surprised at how good the design looks. Usually photo-realistic designs end up looking a little off, although it’s hard to put your finger on just why. God’s Smuggler looks great – just like if the book had been thrown on the coffee table and landed with the pages open somewhere in the middle.

Like Jon’s other work, this site is exceptionally well put-together. Valid markup, good use of CSS, and great accessibility. If you have Firefox’s Web Developer toolbar, try turning off CSS. This is why I love CSS. Turn off the styles and the site is still quite usable. Not only usable, but the information on the page flows logically from section to section and down the page in a way that makes sense even apart from the design. Turn CSS back on, and it’s the same information, just much prettier.

It wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t say that there are a few things I don’t like about the design. I’m not such a big fan of the way the long list of comments is packed into the Guestbook page. Typically I think scrollbars should be used very sparingly. Also, I had some difficulty understanding the timeline on the Readers page. A few, but not all, of the dates have a little info box that pops up when you hover your mouse over the date. Clicking on a date on the timeline reloads the page – not the behavior I would expect.

Ah, I almost got so focused on examining the site as to forget that this site is a book advertisement. I do have to say, with 24 glowing five-star reviews at Amazon.com, God’s Smuggler looks like it must be a book worth reading.

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  1. 1 Yannick

    Good find Ryan. I remember this one. I agree with the points you made, though the text on the tabs do look a little squashed when you hover over them.

    I was actually thinking about buying this book awhile back and even hinted to a family member about getting it for me. So far it hasn’t arrived into my hands. lol ;)

  2. 2 Ryan Heneise

    Yannick, I’m with you on the tabs – they do look squished when you hover over them. I guess that’s one of the problems you run into with a photo-realistic design.

  3. 3 Bennet McLean

    ‘John Hicks’ actually is spelled ‘Jon Hicks’, seems to be a growing mistake recently.

  4. 4 Ryan Heneise

    Eek, thanks for pointing out that embarrassing mistake, Bennet. All fixed now.


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