Mobile web focus of UMSL teacher’s latest book

UMSL's Patrick McNeil

Patrick McNeil’s latest book, “The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book,” is his first focusing on web design for mobile devices. He is senior lecturer in web design at UMSL and is a sought-after speaker and instructor in web design. His previous books have been translated into multiple languages. (Photo by August Jennewein)

More people are accessing the web via mobile devices than ever before, but most website design is geared toward desktop computers.

Patrick McNeil, a senior lecturer in graphic design at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, is helping the web designers of the world change that. McNeil has just released his fifth book on web design and his first specifically on mobile web design, “The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book.”

The book collects hundreds of images of the best in mobile web design examples, along with instruction in text, typography and other features, over 272 pages. The new publication is a mobile-specific version of some of his well-known previous works, such as “The Web Designer’s Idea Book.” McNeil typically combs through close to 4,000 websites to find the ones he wants to feature, which would be especially tedious for designers to do on mobile devices themselves.

“Mobile is particularly painful because it’s so hard to sit around surfing on your phone, so a book that collects hundreds of those examples in one spot is pretty useful,” McNeil said. “You don’t have to browse all those sites. I do all the work for you.”

Though McNeil is an UMSL figure, he’s also making a mark on the world stage of web design. His books have been translated into numerous languages, and he frequently speaks and teaches at conferences around the country and online.

Design for mobile devices has previously been built around mobile apps, but many users are bypassing apps and simply surfing in their browser. In addition, access to the Internet via mobile devices is increasing at breakneck speed. Exact figures vary, but digital marketing firm Walker Sands recently reported that mobile devices currently account for 28 percent of all web traffic, up from 17.5 percent a year ago.

“It used to be that you designed a desktop website and then you thought later of how it looked on the mobile web,” McNeil said. “The state of the industry is changing. Now we’re design for the mobile web and thinking later about how it will look on computer.”

McNeil originally envisioned a career in engineering, but was drawn to the creative outlet that web design provided when he was an undergraduate student at UMSL.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, he worked in the web industry for several years. It was during that time that McNeil started his own blog, www.designmeltdown.com. Now, he’s teaching at UMSL while finishing his master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction from DePaul University.

Eventually, McNeil realized the ideas collected on his website would make for a good book. After pitching his book idea to industry-leader HOW Books, he got published. He considers it part of his ongoing interest in learning and helping others learn.

“An aspect of anyone in the web industry is an addiction to learning,” McNeil said. “Nothing ever stays the same, so you have to be constantly learning.”

For more of McNeil’s work, visit designmeltdown.com and thewebdesignersideabook.com.

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