Author’s Note: You can now head over to Amazon to reserve your copy of “The UX Design Field Book” today for $2.99. Read on for launch date, contents, and a sneak peek.
If my blog has been a bit quiet lately, it’s for good reason.
A few days before Christmas, I tweeted asking for test readers for my upcoming e-book UX Design Fieldbook: A Quick Reference Guide to Everything UX.
As nothing I’ve every written that’s longer than 280 characters has ever received much interest, I wasn’t expecting to get more than about 20 people who were interested.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
720 interested UXers later, it’s pretty clear that I underestimated the interest The UX Field Book would gain.
It’s moments like this that keep me going. This is why I love all of you wonderful people who take the time to listen and engage with me. I’m truly honored and floored by the response.
My wife did get a little annoyed by my constantly updating her with the comment count. It’s a small price to pay.
When can I get my copy ofThe UX Design Field Book?
The good news is that you won’t have to wait long. The UX Design Field Book will be launching on January 18th, 2022. You can pre-order your digital copy here.
I’m unsure if I’ll offer this as a physical book at this point. If you’d like to see the book in physical form, send me a tweet and let me know!
What’s in The UX Design Field Book?
When I posted for test readers, I had was the first five chapters of the book, focusing on the baseline UX Design Process, UX Research, Visual Design, and Usability Testing. At that time, it was all I intended it to be.
After seeing the response, it was clear I needed to get my butt in-gear.
Obviously, I needed to finish writing the sections I already had. I also knew I could add more. I filled out some of the sections I already had with more info. I also added several more sections on Information Architecture, Interaction Design, UX Writing, and UX as the Voice of Ethics.
Currently, the book is around 15,000 words and covers a wide range of topics in the UX universe. While I plan to add as much as I can prior to the launch date, here’s the current Table of Contents as of December 28.
How much will The UX Field Book Cost?
In line with most e-books that are between 10,000-20,000 words, the cover price will be $2.99.
A Sneak Peek for Your Enjoyment: What is “The UX Design Field Book?”
I first learned about UX design on a rainy night in 2009 when I was at a McDonald’s off the 405 Freeway in Costa Mesa, California. A 1998 Ford Escort – both my transportation and my home – was parked where I could see it through the window next to the booth.
Just a few months ago, I foolishly chased a girl I had known for six months to Southern California. When I left Colorado, I had little more than love in my heart and a plan to keep my job as a call center rep for Nordstrom’s credit card division.
Luckily, Nordstrom had offices both in Denver and Costa Mesa. Unluckily, I was a terrible financial planner. I didn’t think about the difficulty of finding housing near my work when rent was nearly double what it was in Colorado – and the pay ($12/hr) was the same in both places.
In another twist, the girl I was moving for decided to settle in San Diego, nearly an hour and a half drive without traffic (and when is there never traffic on the 405?) from Costa Mesa. Our work schedules were weird, too, so I didn’t get to see her as much as I’d have liked.
So what is a man new to the area working 60-hours a week and living a solid two hour drive from his girlfriend to do on a rainy Tuesday night?
Clearly, the answer was to go to McDonalds and study.
I studied because I had a purpose – to make the job, where I spent most of my time, easier to do.
At the moment, the work was not easy. Unlike most jobs, and perhaps unpredictably given call centers’ notoriously difficult reputation, this had less to do with the nature of the work.
It was because the tools the call center reps were given to do their job were terrible. All our processes and procedures were organized into a single website with a flat navigation structure (meaning that all pages existed at the same level on the site).
To make matters worse, the hundreds of pages were organized alphabetically by randomly-selected subject names.
As a final kick in the gut, the site had no search functionality. Unless you performed a Vulcan Mind Meld with the corporate trainer who created the page site in 2004, the best you could do to find a specific piece of information was to guess what it might be named.
As a result, call center reps were getting paid mostly to shift from page to page of documentation, hoping to find a relevant entry about the highly-regulated business and industry. Meanwhile, customers sat on hold, getting angrier and angrier.
It wasn’t a good experience for anyone.
Luckily, I had some small knowledge in design and coding, and was determined to put it to good use.
In the 10-30 seconds I had between calls, I used Notepad and Internet Explorer to develop a tool that was helping me to do my job better and more efficiently.
I began to share my tool with other employees. I asked them questions about it. I even watched them use it so I could understand how I could make it better.
Before long I added a way to keep track of business and industry updates and a list of common extensions.
Because my tool and my code was only available to me on my local machine, I could only work on it in the office. I spent most of my evenings holed up at Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble. I would go anywhere I could get a good, free WiFi signal that would allow me to learn about the web development techniques I’d need to make my tool better.
And that night, reading an article on how to work around not having a backend to store data, I read a line about how doing so could positively affect the “User Experience of the site.”
I was curious why User Experience was capitalized and did a quick search for it.
As Google returned thousands of results about User Experience, my eyes got big. I clicked the first article I could find and my eyes got bigger.
User Experience – the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use – was exactly what I was doing for me and my colleagues at Nordstrom.
And I knew, in that moment, that I wanted to make User Experience my career.
As I sit writing this introduction 12 years later, I’ve done just that.
Over those 12 years, I’ve helped set up design practices for world-class companies including Nordstrom, Western Union, E*TRADE, and CACI. I’ve worked on projects for the United Nations, the Prime Minister of Dubai, Vail Ski Resorts, the New Orleans Saints, and hundreds more.
I’ve worked for various companies as a UX Engineer, UX/UI Designer, UX Researcher, Senior UX Researcher, and UX/UI Manager. I’m now the UX/UI Director for ALC Schools. I’m lucky to have a largeish Twitter following (about 34,000 as of this writing) that’s allowed me to interact with those in every stage of their UX design careers.
With all the knowledge I’ve gained from my experience and interactions, the biggest secret about the UX world I have to share is this:
Everyone interested in the UX field – from the merely curious to the most experienced UX professionals – are constantly looking up even the most basic information on a daily basis.
Like I did years ago at Nordstroms, I set out to solve this problem for myself. As I began collecting and organizing this information, I was taken back to that McDonalds Moment.
What didn’t exist for me then that would have been so helpful was a quick primer to the profession as a whole. Something that gave me, in plain, approachable language, an overview of UX Design in general.
With a chuckle, I realized that the value of that hadn’t changed for me even years later. Whether it’s looking up the name I couldn’t remember for a technique or getting a refresher on the rules of Information Architecture, I’m looking up something about UX every day.
What I needed in both cases was a guidebook to UX.
That guidebook is what you hold in your (digital or physical) hands now.
Any good UX professional will acknowledge the limitations and biases in their research and creative output. In that spirit, I have a few notes about this work that I’d like to share.
This book is a general overview of UX Design – but it is nowhere near a comprehensive textbook. User Experience is a deep field with many associated skills. Comprehensive books exist exploring each of the six main skills required of UXers – UX Research, Visual Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Usability Testing, and UX Writing.
In the same way that no guidebook could ever tell you everything there is to know about a country, I’ve devoted a few pages to each to give you a general overview of practice, vocabulary, and outputs of these skills. At the end of each section I’ve included a list of suggested further reading if you want to dive deeper.
No UX design process is universal. Over the course of 12 years of UX work, I don’t think I’ve used the same UX design process twice. Each process will require choosing between techniques to use each process based on design team skillsets, time, budget, development, and business/user requirements. It’s part of what makes good UX design so stubbornly tricky to implement well.
I’m not the user of this book. You are. I want to hear if you think any piece is under-represented or unclear. I’d also like to know your thoughts on how this book has been helpful to you. If you have any feedback, please drop me a line at Doug@DenverUXer.com. You can also find me @DougCollinsUX on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and SnapChat.
And now, my dear user, we journey together into the world of UX. Never fear – your UX Design Field Book is here.
– Doug Collins, January 2022
PS – I feel compelled to provide you with the happy ending we want most books to contain. I moved back to Denver in 2010 with the girl I had followed halfway across a continent to be with. We’ve been married now for seven years, and through the floor and noise cancelling headphones I can hear her playing with our two wonderful (but sometimes very loud and happy) children.
What are your thoughts?