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The Seven Years That Changed Everything

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 Link

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.

Conversation in a train1
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 Romanell2)

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.

Blow Out The Candle!3

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! Link

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. Link

We put our heart and soul into producing books that we love4 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.

Smashing Book #3 + #3 1/3 Bundle (Print) — $15 Link

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 $15 plus $4.90 for worldwide Airmail shipping.

Smashing Book #3 Bundle5


Get the book6Two gorgeous printed books.


eBook7PDF, ePUB, Amazon Kindle.

Here’s To Another Seven Years! Link

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.

Happy Birthday!8
It’s time to make a wish and blow out the candles.
Happy Birthday, SmashingMag9. Happy Birthday, everyone!

Footnotes Link

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Happy Birthday Smashing Magazine.

    Since I moved into the industry just over five years ago I’ve spent many an hour looking through websites for inspiration yet the one constant that I always return to is Smashing Magazine.

    Thanks for the help you’ve given me and he’s to another seven years.

  2. 2

    WOW! Congrats on your birthday Smashing Mag! As this is my browser’s homepage I always love reading the fantastic articles you produce. I’ve just taken up your offer for all those books ;D Early Christmas present for me. Here’s to another seven years and more!

  3. 3

    Hey Smashing-Team,

    thank you for all the great stuff you did!
    After my first visit i really got addicted to your site and your great information you are providing every day.

    I hope that today is the beginning of another wonderful 7 years for you and us…

    Thanks for making the web , what it is now ;)


  4. 4

    Ram Ratan Maurya

    September 5, 2013 12:16 pm

    Happy Birthday Guys!

    All these years, you guys have really done great things to push people ahead. I’ve learnt so much from Smashing Magazine.

    All the best ahead :)

    ( I’ll just grab a beer! )

  5. 5

    Happy Birthday Smashing Magazine!!
    Wish you producing the great books again and again ^^

  6. 6

    Ioannis KarAvas

    September 5, 2013 12:19 pm

    Happy birthday Smashing!
    Since I discovered you, you hold a special place in my Bookmarks ;)
    Keep on rocking!

  7. 7

    Jens Grochtdreis

    September 5, 2013 12:20 pm

    Congrats! This magazine has been worth reading, all the seven years. Even in the dark ages of lists like “The 50 amzing blabla” it was worth a visit, because you searched for your readers after the most interesting sites and tools.

  8. 8

    Has it really been that long already? Wow. I still remember my first time I stumbled upon this cool little site with nifty articles about the web. It was the first time I started considering a career in web design seriously… and thanks to Smashing Magazine, here we are.

    I, like I would assume everyone else here reading this article, would like to thank you for all the dedication that you’ve shown. Congratulations on your birthday, Smashing Magazine.

  9. 9

    Happy birthday Smashing Magazine and thank you to helping students all around the world, like me, to improve and build their future!

    Here’s to another seven years (and more I hope…).

  10. 10

    Happy Birthday Smashing Magazine.

    Thanks for your good articles!

  11. 11

    Happy Birthday !

    As a developer, I learned many things about design with this magazine.

    Thanks !

  12. 12

    Congratulations on your milestone guys. Like many people, I found your site at random when searching in google, but right away I knew it was something special.
    Thanks for all your hard work and dedication. It is really appreciated.

  13. 13

    And what a brilliant 7 years it has been!

    Your website has helped me through college, university, and now in my first design and development job. Keep the awesome content coming!

    Happy Birthday!

  14. 14

    Alles Gute, Vitaly! Es ist einfach nur großartig, dass es das Smashing Magazine gibt. Macht weiter so. Immer weiter. :)

  15. 15

    Michael Shiferaw

    September 5, 2013 12:24 pm

    Happy Birthday Smashing!!!!

    I, working in a particularly difficult environment that I am currently working at can’t help but be amazed by the immense potential you endow me with still, just by reading your articles.

    Keep up the good work and help us be better creatives.

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  16. 16

    Matthew Haworth

    September 5, 2013 12:26 pm

    Congrats :) happy birthday!

  17. 17

    Elliott Rodgers

    September 5, 2013 12:28 pm

    Happy Birthday



  18. 18

    Happy birthday Smashing Magazine and thank you for helping students all around the world, like me, to improve and build their future!

    Here’s to another seven years (and more I hope…)

  19. 19

    I’ve been following your website since the beginning, it’s probably the only one I’ve kept.

    You always have high quality content, although sometimes too much text and information about the subject but nonetheless top quality.

    Hopefully one day we can have Smashing Magazine video shows :)

    Congratulations on you amazing achievements and hope for the best.

  20. 20

    Happy Birthday!!

    I’ve been following Smashing website from Portugal for some years already, and last year I randomly moved to the Schwarzwald just to find out that I live now 60km from you guys :) Small world!

    I keep following your great articles, there is always something on them that keep helping me learn new stuff, be more curious and improve myself as a web designer!

    Keep on the great work and cheers for much more happy years making the web better!


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