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Dec 05, 2010: UX and Publishing

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending my first unconference—Book Camp NY. Even though I've been a publisher for a few years now, this was the first publishing event I'd ever attended. OpenSky's Mary Ann Naples was kind enough to encourage me to attend, and I figured it'd be a good taste of what to expect from O'Reilly's Tools Of Change conference (where I'll be speaking in February). So I put on my UX ambassador's hat and volunteered to talk about UX and publishing (slides below).

In what's apparently true unconference style, a great discussion broke out, so I only made it about a third of the way through my slides. The most memorable nugget for me: editors often are no different than other other kind of product manager—they think they know their readers' needs better than the readers do.

As much as I hate to put together slides, it was a useful exercise for me nonetheless. It made clear to me the parallels between UX—which, for me, is about designing products and services that engage users, and publishing—which I think is about designing content that engages readers. (If you've read my blog before, you know I'm all about engagement.)

That said, the exercise exposed to me that Rosenfeld Media needs to do a better job of making its content more engaging, though I'm not quite sure how (umm, "tweet this passage"?). As you'll see from the slides, most of what I've done so far is use UX thinking to make the company better at engaging with customers. Making more engaging books is another thing altogether, although the fact that we've at least researched and tested our books' design is still more than most publishers can claim.

Also, if I had more time, I'd have had as many slides on engaging with authors and other sources of expertise. In fact, I'm hoping that next year witnesses a major change at Rosenfeld Media—transforming from a publisher of UX books to a purveyor of UX expertise in formats other than books. To pull that off, we'd better damn well know how to engage those sources of expertise. Wish us well.

Anyway, here you go; enjoy:

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