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Today is the day when it all started — the day when this little website launched back in 2006. Today, we celebrate our seventh anniversary, and you, dear readers, are the ones who have made it possible and kept us going.
Sorry about that heavy 0.5Mb GIF, but after all it’s our little birthday today and this GIF has been circling around the office for ages now.
Time For A Little Story
A couple of months ago, I was on a night train on my way to one of those countless Web design conferences. Being offline with a ridiculous roaming rate is always a good excuse to get some work done, and the music streaming from my good ol’ headphones helped me to focus on the draft of the chapter I was reviewing for our upcoming book.
At a late stop, a dark-haired guy in his 30s stepped into my coach, politely asking whether the seat next to me was taken, then carefully placing his bag right next to mine. From his bag, he pulled out his laptop, his Moleskine and a set of exquisite Japanese pens — ones you wouldn’t find in any regular stationery shop. He looked like an artist at first glance, but at the same time was running Coda on his laptop.
Once he had everything in place, he pulled out a few books from his bag — all of the usual suspects, I assumed: a couple of Five Simple Steps books, a few printouts with sketches and mind maps, some A Book Apart volumes. Then I kept my breath for a moment — I suddenly glimpsed our very own Mobile Book, still neatly and tightly packed and wrapped.
You see, I’ve never seen someone read our books before then. You know how it is: You create something, send it into the wilderness of the Web, only to be surprised when you discover that people out there actually use this thing whose trail wanders from tweet to tweet, from one designer to the next.
Best things always happen to you when you don’t expect them at all. A random conversation at any point of time can change and redefine everything. (Image credit: Duane Romanell)
I struck up a conversation with my neighbor, asking him his name and where he comes from, whether he is an artist and what he does for a living, what it’s like to be a freelancer, and what the industry is like in general. He replied eagerly, and so the conversation led from design to development to culture to UX to personal struggles and successes, as the train moved along in the dark night.
“So, how do you keep improving your skills?” I asked.
“You know, experimenting with stuff, playing around with what’s out there.”
“I guess going to conferences as well, then?”
“Yep, that too. And then there is this pretty cool magazine. It’s called Smashing.”
I smiled, resisting the urge to say something.
At some point, the conversation drifted off, and I returned to my editing duties, while my neighbor started drawing in his Moleskine, jumping from one Japanese pen to another as the light was dimming. Suddenly, he slowly leaned towards his bag, reached for the Mobile Book and started examining it. He unwrapped the book slowly and gently leafed through its pages. He kept turning the book from one side to another, helped only by the flagging light from the side of the coach. Not long after he unwrapped it, I could hear a page flip every two minutes as my neighbor was reading the book.
I couldn’t look away. The book we’d been working for almost 10 months was actually being read by someone right in front of me. At this point, I knew almost every single page of the book by heart, and I knew exactly which pages contained grammar or spelling mistakes that our readers had flagged. I didn’t say anything, though — of course.
As the time passed and I continued editing the chapter, I kept hearing the pages flip. The coach was silent and almost empty, yet this little whisper of flipping was full of something… remarkable and meaningful — something that I would remember for a long, long time after that trip.
I spent almost the whole night editing that one monolithic chapter, finishing just before the sun rose, as my neighbor continued flipping through the book every couple of minutes. I will never forget how, upon closing my laptop, I realized that even hours later the Mobile Book was still there, serving its purpose as the night wore on.
Since then, I always remember how worthwhile and empowering every single minute we’ve invested in Smashing Magazine felt in those few hours on the train.
Seven Years — And Counting!
This little website was launched exactly seven years ago today. We didn’t have an ambitious goal. We didn’t have a master plan. We just wanted to do what matters to us and provide value to our colleagues, fellows designers and developers out there. That train trip of mine is one of the reasons we are still doing it today. The trip throughout all these seven years changed everything for me, and these years still drive us in new directions and towards new challenges. And for this I am eternally, eternally grateful.
These seven years have changed everything because what we do does matter after all, and because you matter to us.
Our Birthday Present — To You.
We put our heart and soul into producing books that we love and that you will hopefully love, too. Good is not good enough, and we do everything we can to create beautiful and valuable artefacts of their time and keep them affordable to everyone worldwide.
To celebrate our little day today, we have prepared a little something for you. Well, obviously we can’t buy a round of beer for you just yet, but we do have something a bit more… permanent and special: a Smashing stress relief ball. That, and of course, for any printed book you grab, the international shipping is on us this week. But hey, don’t worry, no strings attached.
The Stress Relief Ball: Smash Me! — $7 (7€)
This adorable little fleecy fellow is super squishy and will put a smile on anyone’s face. Cody is a goodie that’s most certainly nice to have for your desk; he’s a great listener and an efficient stress absorber. Price is $7 (7€), with free shipping. You can also print your own Cody (PDF), you know. We’ll be giving away Codys to 30 people who comment on this post.
Smashing Book #3 Bundle (Print + eBook) — $27 (27€)
Our last Smashing Book contains practical coding and design techniques and features contributions from Aarron Walter, Rachel Andrew, Lea Verou, Christian Heilmann, Andy Clarke and Dmitry Fadeyev. If you want to know how to design websites today, don’t miss this bundle. Two damn good printed books and two eBooks in one fell swoop. Price is $27 (27€), with free shipping.
Smashing Book #3 + Mobile Book Bundle (Print + eBooks) — $47 (47€)
Here is a bundle of our two most recent books, which complement each other well. The Smashing Book 3 provides insight into the general design and coding workflow, while The Mobile Book has a strong focus on mobile techniques and strategies, the mobile landscape and mobile UX. That’s two high-quality print books and four eBooks in one fell swoop. Price is $47 (47€), with free shipping.
The Smashing Anthology (5×Print + 6×eBooks) — $77 (77€)
In all, we’ve released five printed books, all carefully edited and thoroughly reviewed according to the rigorous quality control that Smashing Magazine’s online articles are known for. The books cover the various areas of Web design and development and have come to be regarded as valuable, high-quality books for Web professionals. Price is $77 (77€), with free shipping.
Here’s To Another Seven Years!
The journey has just begun. We have a lot more in store, and we aren’t afraid of new challenges. In fact, we are happy to take this journey with you. A huge thank you to you for being so helpful, engaging and supportive, and for staying with us all this time, and for reading our books on night trains. It means the world to us. You mean the world to us.
It’s time to make a wish and blow out the candles.
Happy Birthday, SmashingMag. Happy Birthday, everyone!
© Vitaly Friedman for Smashing Magazine, 2013.