Author Archives: Louis Rosenfeld

The latest from Rosenfeld Media

The latest from Rosenfeld Media

  • New Book: Designing Interface Animation

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    The most interesting places happen at the in-between places.

    Val Head’s new book, Designing Interface Animation: Meaningful Motion for User Experience, sits smack dab in between two sub-genres: books that provide broad overviews of animation, and books that show you how to implement animation for interactive products.Designing Interface Animation cover thumbnail image

    Designing Interface Animation is the book you should use to make sense of animation so that you can create a plan for using it in your site. It won’t explain animation’s history, and it won’t show you how to code interactive animation. It provides the missing link—to help you develop a pragmatic, practical plan for where and when to use animation in your products and apps.

    Timing couldn’t be better, as it’s getting so much cheaper and easier to take advantage of animation. That’s all the more reason to think it through—before taking a blind and potentially disastrous leap into coding.

    Designing Interface Animation is now available for purchase in paperback and four DRM-free ebook formats. You can also pick up a copy from Amazon. If you want a taste, head over to the book site, where there’s an excerpt as well as an FAQ, lots of nice testimonials, and a really swell foreword from Ethan Marcotte.

    Val Head is a web & UI animation pro specializing in motion style guides and web animation training. Her newest book, Designing Interface Animation, is available for purchase. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her UI Animation newsletter and Motion and Meaning podcast.

    UX in all the Odd Places

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    I had a bit of a crisis last fall. My pal Andrew Mayfield asked me to keynote UX New Zealand. Of course I was dying to go to New Zealand. But they wanted me to give a new talk, and the very thought makes me sweat. What new things might I have to say about UX? Do I even do UX anymore?

    After all, these days I spend my time putting out books and putting on conferences. Web sites and apps? Not so much. I’m not even sure I know the difference between a breakpoint and a touchpoint. So who am I to talk to UX practitioners about UX? 25+ years in the field, yet here I was, suffering from an acute case of imposter syndrome.

    Many false starts, meltdowns, and 4am Keynote sessions later, I finally had a breakthrough. It’s not that I don’t do UX anymore. It’s that UX applies to way more than apps and web sites. In fact, I’ve spent the better part of the last decade doing extensive UX work on traditional products, like books, and physical experiences, like conferences. So that’s exactly what I covered in my UXNZ keynote. Books and conferences are experiential, so yep: the work still counts as UX.

    D’uh. I guess it’s one of those oh-so-obvious observations that aren’t so obvious when they pertain to you.

    But it is a liberating feeling. And it’s renewed my excitement about UX, because:where doesn’t UX apply?

    Conferences offer almost unlimited opportunities to UX the hell out of stuff. With our last virtual conference—Product Management + User Experience—we found that basing our program on user research was immensely valuable, helping us select both speakers and topics. And many of you agreed; there was a strong correlation between your participation in program planning and your desire to actually attend the event.

    So we’re doing it again with our next virtual conference—Design Research for Everyone, which is slated for some time this fall. Here’s our question: What do people who aren’t UX practitioners need to learn about design research?

    Please help us do our user research by letting us know who should speak and on which topics—and sharing this with others who might be interested.

    What odd contexts are you finding ripe for UX? Please comment below; I’d love to hear your stories of UX in non-traditional places.

    We’re hiring: Events and Corporate Training Manager

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    A couple years ago, more than a few people—including some of my staff—asked me why Rosenfeld Media wasn’t producing conferences.

    With a derisive hand-wave, I crabbed that they weren’t worth the bother. We’d tried a few things, and long story short, I didn’t see the value. “We’ve reached peak UX conference.”

    Well, when I’m wrong, I like to go big. Fortunately, those people didn’t listen to me and, in fact, persuaded me that the UX conference business was indeed worth pursuing. We’re about to hold our second Enterprise UX conference, which just might outdo our very successful freshman effort. We’re producing more virtual events (here’s an example), and we also organized our first Advance Retreat earlier this year.

    There’s lots going on here, and we need help. Not just with conferences, but with managing our business of connecting UX experts who teach courses with corporate clients.

    If you’re someone who strides event management, user experience design, and sales—or who thinks they could—let’s talk. Here’s the position description; have a look, and if it’s up your alley, apply by May 22. Hope to hear from you!

    New book: Donna Lichaw’s The User’s Journey

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    thumbnail of The User's Journey coverIt’s book launch day here at Rosenfeld Media HQ! And somehow, we’ve reached the quarter-century mark: The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love is our 25th title.

    Other fields, like filmmaking, have long understood the importance of narrative structure. In The User’s Journey, Donna Lichaw brings that same line of thinking to UX, and demonstrates how storymapping really can help us design and test just about anything—from landing pages to product strategies.

    This last point is no exaggeration. For example, we were carefully following Donna’s advice when we developed last year’s Enterprise UX conference program. Thinking about story arc helped us make sure attendees had energy left over for the conference’s reception after an intense day of presentations.

    So, while I’m biased, I really do think you’ll benefit from reading The User’s Journey, regardless of what you’re designing. And, at 160 pages, the book is short and sweet.


    Just in case you were wondering

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    …the answer is: no. We haven’t gone into the dietary supplements business.

    A handful of you have reported receiving “Lean Fatburner” pills instead of Tomer Sharon’s new book, Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research. 

    Although both products include the word lean in their names, they indeed are not the same product. We’ve explained this to our distribution company, and they appear to understand the difference now. If you do ever receive the wrong product from us, please let us know and we’ll slim the problem down.

    This is ultmately something of a shaggy metadata story. I wrote a little more about it here.

    We’ve signed two new books

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    It’s been a busy week. On top of launching Tomer Sharon’s new book Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research and reaching the verge of selling out our Product Management + User Experience Conference, we managed to sign two new books that should come out in early 2017.

    Brett Harned, who helps organize the Digital PM Summit, is one of a new breed of project managers that focuses on the human element of getting projects done. In Project Management for Humans, he’ll explains why everyone should have at least some command of project management skills—and how the work itself is as much about understanding and working with people as it’s about managing schedules and scope creep.

    Our other new signing—About (Design) Leadership—teams veteran UX managers Russ Unger, author of many popular UX books and now at 18F, and Chris Avore, who runs product design at Nasdaq. They’re chock full of practical advice (just check out the table of contents!) for UX people who are moving into management and leadership roles.

    Looking forward to launching these two—and many more great new books—over the coming year.

    New book: Tomer Sharon’s Validating Product Ideas

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    One thing that you’ll immediately notice about our newest book—Tomer Sharon’s Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research—is that it’s so danged practical. To create the book, Tomer used a radically simple (and practical) recipe:

    1. Interview hundreds of startup founders and project managers about the questions that keep them up at night
    2. Group them into nine critical questions (e.g., “Do people want the product?” and “Which design generates better results?”)
    3. Guide readers through a few quick and inexpensive user research methods that actually answer each of those critical questions

    The results are fantastically useful for anyone who is struggling to reduce risk and increase product success.Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research cover thumbnail

    In other words, lean user research meets product management.


    In some respects, this book—our 24th!—is a return to our practical, “here’s how you do it” roots. In another sense, it wasn’t written for UX people at all. Tomer, like so many of us, wants to democratize what many UX people already know. So if you’re a product manager or developer, this book is most definitely for you. But if you’re steeped in user research methods, you’ll still appreciate Tomer’s help in doing what you’ve already been doing: sharing the UX good news with the people you work with.

    Like every Rosenfeld Media book, Validating Product Ideas comes in four-color paperback and four DRM-free ebook formats (ePUB, MOBI, PDF, and DAISY). Enjoy!

    User Research for Developing a Conference Program

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    We’re working hard to prove that even tiny companies—like Rosenfeld Media—have no excuses when it comes to doing user research (we wrote about it here). We’re at it here, doing the research to develop the program for our next virtual conference. Laura Klein, author of UX for Lean Startups and the forthcoming Build Better Products, helped us with the research and analysis (she’ll be speaking at the event too). Here’s her description of what we did and what we learned.

    Product managers and UX designers understand the need for user research when building a product. Good product managers and UX designers actually DO user research when building a product.

    Rosenfeld Media cares deeply about good product management and UX design, so when they started talking about doing an online conference on February 3, 2016—about the intersection of product management and UX design—they decided to reach out to potential attendees first in order to understand what people want to know. They also recruited some top people working in product management and UX as speakers: Christina Wodtke, Jeff Gothelf, Jeff Patton, Marty Cagan, and Tomer Sharon (and me too!). We all worked together to gain insights into questions people have about product management, UX, and how we can all work better together.

    We all worked together to gain insights into questions people have about product management, UX, and how we can all work better together. (Tweet this)

    Let’s take a look at what we did and what we learned.

    The Qualitative

    First, we had to understand who the users (conference attendees) were hopefully going to be. Too many conferences choose “anybody who will buy a ticket” as their target customers, but frankly that’s what leads to unfocused, boring conferences where very few people learn anything of actual value to them.

    If you try to build a product that works for everybody from students to CEOs, you’ll likely end up not providing much value to at least some of your users, and the same thing is true for conferences. That wasn’t something we were cool with.  We knew we wanted to create a conference that was useful and actionable for people who are currently building things or managing people who build things—working product managers, UX designers, researchers, and their bosses.  

    Armed with a couple of quick, provisional personas, we set out to get some qualitative feedback. A few of us spent some time talking to PMs and UXers we knew who fit the personas, and then we started analyzing the most common questions and problems they had about working together and building products.

    The Quantitative

    Patterns started to emerge pretty quickly; we used them to put together a short survey with questions that were representative of what we’d been hearing. We wanted to know whether the respondents spent more time doing UX design, product management, or something else. We wanted to know their job titles. And we wanted to know which questions or topics they found most interesting.

    We asked them to choose from a set of questions that ranged from “How should Product Managers and UX Designers coordinate and manage discovery work?” to “What does a great Product Manager do?” to “How should UX Designers work with engineering?”

    We heard from over 150 of you. Most were UX designers, but we also got a good collection of product managers and a few people who listed themselves as “other.” Somebody listed himself as a “troublemaker.” We know who you are, Steve, and we’re watching you.

    The Results

    About two thirds of the respondents said that their jobs mostly involved UX, but job titles included everything from user researcher to product designer to innovation catalyst to CEO. We’re taking that as a good sign that people from all parts of organizations are starting to care about user experience design!

    PM/UX/Other breakdown pie chart

    The top three questions people had, by quite a large margin, were:

    • How should product managers and UX designers coordinate and manage discovery work? Over 77% of respondents were interested in that one.
    • How should product managers and UX designers split up the work of product development? That was 65%.
    • How to balance discovery work on new ideas with the demands of supporting teams doing delivery work? 60% of people wanted to know the answer to that.

    But it got interesting when we looked at some of the differences between UX designers and product managers. Over 70% of people who identified with UX were interested in knowing how to split up work, while only 50% of PMs and 41% of “others” cared. Maybe the UX designers are feeling like they’re doing too much of the heavy lifting?

    Over 70% of people who identified with UX were interested in knowing how to split up work, while only 50% of PMs and 41% of “others” cared. (Tweet this)

    Only about 35% of product managers and UX designers are interested in learning how to work better together and only about 12% of people wanted to know how to work better with engineering, so maybe that means everybody’s getting along just fine. Although, 20% of the UX designers wanted to know how they can move into product management, so we’ll see how long everybody likes each other when the designers try to steal the all the product jobs.

    Of course, one thing that always happens when you run a survey is that you realize you left out the most important question. My two favorite write-ins were, “What’s so hard about a UX designer’s work?” and “Why do we need Product Managers?” I think we’d all like to know those answers.

    Favorite (and snarky) write-in questions: “What’s so hard about a UX designer’s work?” and “Why do we need Product Managers?” (Tweet this)

    Some of the other great questions we got asked were around getting both UX and Product to work better with research, including one asking for a session called, “User Research—Why it’s not scary.” I would totally watch that session.

    The submitted questions that didn’t address research often focused on coordination, communication, and collaboration, including a lot of great questions about decision making and setting priorities. Oh, and, somebody just asked for “as much Marty as we can get”, which is perfectly understandable, because we’re pretty excited that Marty Cagan will be speaking too.

    The Conference

    We’re now hard at work preparing talks and discussions that focus on the things you care about. Creating great product development organizations takes a tremendous amount of work and coordination, and we’re excited about helping you do it.

    So that we can reach as many people as possible, we’re running the conference online. That means that you can watch all six talks from the comfort of your own desk, and I can give my talk while wearing bunny slippers.

    Laura Klein's bunny slippers
    What Laura will be wearing during her Big Presentation on February 3.

    We’ll be sharing the titles and descriptions of the talks as they’re finished, but you might not want to wait, since the early bird prices end on December 18. We hope you’ll join us for the Product Management + User Experience Conference on February 3.


    Laura Klein is a Lean UX and Research expert in Silicon Valley, where she teaches companies how to get to know their users and build products people will love. She’s a Rosenfeld Media expert and author. Her newest book, Build Better Products, is set for release later in 2016. She’s also the author of UX for Lean Startups (O’Reilly) and blogs about UX at Users Know. Follow her on Twitter.

    Join us at The Advance Retreat

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    How can we foster an effective, open, enduring culture of design in our organizations?

    One of the coolest things about my job is that I get to engage in constant conversations with design people about what’s interesting and important. Whether it’s books, events, or consulting services, people love to tell us what topics they want us to cover.

    From those many conversations, I’ve concluded that one of the things UX people need most is… well, more conversations. Acquiring and refining nuts-and-bolts skills are important too, but how-to information is increasingly easy to come by. Productive conversation with peers isn’t.

    So we’re trying something new: we’re launching the very first Advance Retreat. It’ll focus on answering a single question—one that more and more design leaders are struggling with: How can we foster an effective, open, enduring culture of design in our organizations?

    That conversation oughta fill two days easy.

    We’re producing the Advance Retreat with Marc Rettig and Hannah du Plessis of Fit Associates; they’re hugely experienced with this particular challenge. AND they are really, really good at facilitating conversations that lead to co-learning and co-creation. In other words, real outcomes. (I speak from experience; Fit’s help has moved Rosenfeld Media forward.)

    The Advance Retreat is limited to 50 mid-late career design leaders, and you can apply to participate here. The Retreat may not be for you, but if your organization is larger than a startup, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that someone you work with could benefit greatly from participating. (Feel free to forward this PDF brochure their way.)

    We’ll be meeting February 11-12 in Palm Springs. The very cool Ace Hotel is the ideal setting—both inside and out—for the kind of conversations we all need.

    Questions or comments? Post them below. Or just go ahead and apply to be part of the conversation in the desert this February.

    Explore the intersection of Product Management and UX

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    Product Management and User Experience are practices that—more and more—involve and depend upon each other. But it’s not always clear how they should intersect. Who should be responsible for what? How might Product Managers and UX practitioners best support each other?

    To explore the UX/PM intersection, we’re trying an experiment. Rosenfeld Media is organizing a one-day virtual conference—creatively titled Product Management + User Experience—that takes place February 3. We’ve lined up an absolutely fantastic speaker line-up that balances both UX and PM perspectives: Marty Cagan, Jeff Gothelf, Laura Klein, Jeff Patton, Tomer Sharon, and Christina Wodtke.

    If you look at the event site, you’ll see that there are no sessions listed. That’s by design: we’re asking you to weigh in on what PM/UX questions are most important to you. Just let us know. The results will help the speakers understand what to cover in their talks (and we’ll let you knothumbnail of Validating Product Ideas book coverw when their sessions are announced).

    If you do this by EOD Wednesday, December 2, we’ll enter you in a drawing to win one of ten advance copies of our next book, Tomer Sharon’s Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research. (Tomer is one of our speakers.)

    You can also just go ahead and register now (early bird rate ends December 18). Either way, please weigh in: what would you like to learn about the intersection of Product Management + User Experience?