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Review: The Internet Case Study Book

The Internet Case Study Book promises a collection of innovative, unusual, dramatic and thought-provoking sites that should spark a million ideas of your own.

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The Internet Case Study Book

Edited by Rob Ford and Julius Wiedemann (Taschen, 2010) $100 Buy@Fishpond

Ever visit a great website and immediately want to redo your own site in a similar way? Then you’ll want to approach The Internet Case Study Book with due caution: it promises a collection of innovative, unusual, dramatic and thought-provoking sites that should spark a million ideas of your own.

Should—but may not. Great idea, some flaws in the execution.

First, the selection of sites. There are 60, grouped by type (campaigns, e-commerce, promotional, social media and corporate), but I wish the selection were more diverse. They’re a bit, well, Flash-y for me, and although the editors claim the budgets vary, there’s certainly a bias towards the bigger productions.

Second, the discussion of how they were devised, built and marketed. The text, apparently written by the site developers, too often reads like an awards entry. With four pages per site, there’s little detail on the specific innovation of each one, let alone insights into how they were created. It’s just too brief; there’s not a not a wireframe to be seen (though it is entertaining to hear what a pain in the ass Eminem’s people are).

And third, the format. It’s not that this isn’t a beautifully produced book—it’s published to Taschen’s typically high standards—but it is, in the end, a book. Screenshots can’t capture what’s special about these sites and, mystifyingly, the book doesn’t seem to have a companion website. Even a clickable list of the sites’ URLs would have made browsing them a much easier prospect.

Developers and content creators won’t find much of interest here, and designers won’t fare much better. It’s a better fit for marketers and executives wanting ideas on how to make a big splash. But don’t take it too literally: after all, if it’s in here, it’s been done before.