SharePoint 2013 Branding and User Interface Design is a Wrox book unlike any typical SharePoint book you’ve seen before, especially by a publisher well known for their uber-technical books that are full of code blocks and appeal to super-geeks. (Lucky for me they had stopped plastering the authors’ photos on the cover of the books before I helped author one!) This book by Randy Drisgill, John Ross, and Paul Stubbs is the third incarnation of the book and what a departure it is from the same book that was written for SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010. The content is well-written and informative, but the graphical design of the book is incredibly refreshing and engaging. Since this is a book written for designers, it makes sense that the book layout itself be appealing to its readers.

The book is broken up into 4 main sections, each with its own general color-coding. The book starts out with a basic overview of branding concepts in SharePoint. The second section starts you on your way of creating your first master page using the Design Manager, and understanding the basics of CSS. The third chapter goes into some more advanced topics, such as creating a master page from scratch and creating custom composed looks. The last section of the book tackles topics such as HTML5 and applying branding to SharePoint apps.

SP2013 Branding Chapter TitleThe first thing I noticed is that this book, unlike most Wrox books, is full color. You can see an example of the nice full-color pictures that are presented at the beginning of each section of the book above.

SP2013 Branding LayoutEven the basic page design made me want to read this book. In the photo to the right, you can see that this page has sample markup, but it’s not wrapped in the normal “I like to write code in notepad because I’m a nerd” font. The various parts of the code block are highlighted using the “dotted path” so it’s easy to dissect what the code is doing. On the other side of the page, you can see how bulleted lists follow the large “circle” theme repeated throughout the book.

Even pages with lists of information that are usually presented in a rather boring format have been spiced up a little, as you can see in the picture below on the left. On the picture below on the right, you can see how nice the full color is and how easy the chapter summaries are to read.

SP2013 Branding List SP2013 Branding Summary

Apart from the nice visual layout of the book, there were several things I really appreciated about the book:

  • It has nice examples and walk-throughs of basic branding tasks you might want to accomplish.
  • It covered new SharePoint 2013 topics like the Design Manager (including snippets), device channels, the content search web part, dynamic navigation using managed metadata, etc.
  • It covers topics that aren’t necessarily SharePoint-specific, but are relevant, like HTML 5 and responsive web design.
  • The book even talked about basic project management principles when setting out to design a new site.

I recommend this book for anyone looking to dive into SharePoint 2013 design.