Author Archives: Louis Rosenfeld

The latest from Rosenfeld Media

The latest from Rosenfeld Media

  • Radical Books from Prodigal Authors

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    Happy news: we’ve recently signed authors to write these three exciting new books, all likely to be published in 2016:

    1. Epic Fail: Design Research War Stories by Steve Portigal
    2. The Dawn of Agentive Technology: From Good Tools to Good Rules by Chris Noessel
    3. Blindspot: Illuminating the Hidden Value of Business by Steven Diller, Nathan Shedroff, and Sean Sauber

    Steve has been compiling war stories—some written by you—for years. In Epic Fail, he’ll knit them together in ways that lead to new conclusions, lessons, and maybe even something grander. A design research framework for the next century, perhaps? We’ll see.

    Chris’s book will be a wild ride; not surprising, given the scope of Make It Sohis last book. Technologies like AI typically outpace our abilities to humanize them; I’m hopeful that Chris’s book helps designers to dramatically narrow that gap.

    And a book on the hidden value of business from Rosenfeld Media? Well, there’s some incredibly exciting stuff happening at the intersection of business and design, and we’ll have some interesting news on this to report on later this fall. Please stay tuned.

    In honor of these new books, here’s a discount code that will get you 25% off any Rosenfeld Media book until Saturday, 9/26: PRODIGAL.

    More happy news: this is Steve’s second book with Rosenfeld Media. Chris’s too. And Nathan’s third. Indi Young and Whitney Quesenbery have also worked with us on more than one book. That means we’re doing something right. Normally I’d give credit to taking a UX-infused approach to how we do business. But when it comes to writing books, I can’t overemphasize the very old school approach of providing authors with great support from a human editor. As one of our authors put it just yesterday:

    Kevin Hoffman's tweet

    I’m not sure why so many other publishers are axing their developmental editors; I don’t see any other way to ensure an experience that’s good for an author and, ultimately, readers. So a huge tip of the hat to Marta Justak, who has edited most of our books.

    The People Project

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    I’ve always been impressed by people and organizations that value transparency. And I’ve tried to make it a cornerstone of how Rosenfeld Media does business.

    As a brand attribute, transparency sounds great. But as a way for a company to behave, it’s much more complicated, and even a little painful. It means publicly admitting when stuff goes wrong, and occasionally acknowledging your own ignorance or impotence.

    Allow me to be painfully transparent: given the field we’re in, you’d expect Rosenfeld Media to be a completely user research-driven company.

    And you’d be wrong.

    Like many small companies — and even some large ones — we’ve made the same excuses that we begrudge our consulting clients: not enough time, staff, or budget.

    Well, it’s time to call bullshit. No more excuses.

    So we’re starting a new thing called The People Project. It’s a lean user research program that makes sense for a tiny company like ours. And we’ll report on it— transparently—right here on our site. That way you’ll see — and hopefully learn from — what we’re discovering.

    We’re centering our research on the actionable questions — some big, some small — that directly address what people need and want most from us. We’re leaning on our roster of Rosenfeld Media UX experts to guide us when we get stumped answering these questions along the way.

    And we’re emphasizing practical tools and iterative approaches over grand methods. After all, we’re in the business of UX expertise, not medical devices or Martian rovers.

    I’m so excited that Rosenfeld Media is finally becoming truly user research-driven—and a little relieved. It’ll be hard, but the hardest part is, as they say, recognizing that you have a problem. Nice to check that off the list. Of course, we’re certainly not the first organization to share our user research. In fact, our biggest inspiration is the amazing UX team at MailChimp; you should really subscribe to their newsletter to see what they’re learning.

    I’m especially proud of Elaine Matthias and Stephanie Zhong for pushing this forward; you’ll be hearing directly from them along the way.

    Speaking of which, we’ll be posting what we learn right here. We’ll also tweet about what we’ve learned via @rosenfeldmedia.

    If you’re finding this interesting or even inspiring, let us know by commenting below. In fact, if your small organization is doing something similar, would you mind sharing a bit about what you’ve learned?

    Free book and 20% off our People Skills for UX conference

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    Great UX requires more than design and research chops—so we’ve put together a virtual conference to help you develop your listening, facilitation, negotiation, and leadership skills. People Skills for UX brings the collective wisdom of four UX “innies” and four “outsiders”—David Sibbet, Harry Max, Jennifer Pahlka, Julian Treasure, Kevin Hoffman, Kim Goodwin, Michelle Katz, and Steve Portigal—this May 27. And because it’s a virtual conference, you (and your team) can participate in your PJs.

    Oh, and recordings are part of the deal.

    Take 20% off with code PEOPLESKILLS. Do it by 11:59pm EDT this Friday (April 24) and we’ll send you a free copy of Victor Lombardi’s wonderful book Why We Fail.Why We Fail cover thumbnail

    now on sale: Lisa Welchman’s Managing Chaos

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    In design circles, it’s becoming as common to discuss organizational behavior as it is responsive design. This isn’t surprising; designers find their efforts continually crashing into walls of misaligned goals and, at times, vicious politics. And decision-makers are suffering too; if they can’t get their people and resources pointed in the same direction, their organizations can be damaged beyond repair.

    Managing Chaos cover thumbnail

    So we’re glad to present our 23rd title, Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design. It’s the “not a UX book” that UX people should read—as should their bosses. Because, as Peter Morville says, “You can’t get user experience right if your governance model is wrong.”

    We’re also thrilled that were finally able to convince Lisa Welchman to write about her work. She’s been tackling governance issues for her entire career, and now is the perfect time for her book to debut, as designers care more about governance and decision-makers are grasping for ways to get better returns on their design investments.

    As with all of our books, Managing Chaos is available in a loverly paperback and four DRM-free digital versions (PDF, MOBI, ePUB, and DAISY). Purchase it directly from us, or O’Reilly or Amazon.


    Peak empathy? No, Practical Empathy!

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    Practical Empathy cover thumbnailGiven that Indi Young and I first began discussing her new book idea many, many years ago, Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work was a marathon in the making. Even the last mile proved to be full of unexpected (and unpleasant) challenges.

    So I’m thrilled (and relieved) that, as of today, Practical Empathy is finally available! And not just in paperback; like all of our books, it’s also available in DRM-free PDF, MOBI, and ePUB formats. Learn more at the book’s site, where you can sample the table of contents, illustrations, FAQ, and read testimonials like this one from Karen McGrane:

    Your product design should be informed by a deep understanding of user goals. In Practical Empathy, Indi outlines a way of working that goes beyond data-driven research methods to deliver genuine empathy for the people who use the things we make.

    By the way, I know what you’re thinking: everyone’s talking about “empathy” lately. Are we at the point of having reached peak empathy? The answer really depends on what we mean by the word.

    And Indi’s take on empathy is quite different than what you might assume:

    This book is not about the kind of empathy where you feel the same emotions as another person. It’s about understanding how another person thinks—what’s going on inside her head and heart. And most importantly, it’s about acknowledging her reasoning and emotions as valid, even if they differ from your own understanding. This acknowledgment has all sorts of practical applications, especially in your work. This book explores using empathy in your work, both in the way you make things and the way you interact with people.

    Yes, we all could stand to be more empathetic in the ways we feel about others. But Indi’s book focuses on cognitive empathy, which offers a huge and hugely practical payoff to anyone involved in just about any aspect of design. We hope you’ll enjoy the payoff from reading from Practical Empathy.

    A Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

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    There’s a lot of excitement about Indi Young’s new book, Practical Empathy. In fact, hundreds of you pre-ordered it, and were looking forward to having their paperback ship today.

    I got my copy last night, just ahead of you. I opened the package. Looked great—and I love that cover!



    Thumbed through it. First chapter: cool, there’s one of Brad Colbow’s wonderful illustrations!



    On to Chapter Two…

    Where's Chapter 2??


    Uh oh. Four does not equal Two. What happened to Chapters Two and Three?

    And look, another Chapter Four. I mean, it’s a great chapter, but come on…

    Oh no; another Chapter Four! 
    Argh. You can judge a book by its cover, but it’s what’s inside that counts.

    So here’s the situation: it looks like our normally reliable printer missed something. And, sadly, thousands of unsellable copies are now sitting in four warehouses in three countries on two continents. It will likely take some weeks to reprint the book, restock them, and ship paperback versions of Practical Empathy to you.

    If you already pre-ordered the book, I’m very, very sorry for this situation. Here’s what we’ll do:

    • We’ll make the ebook versions (PDF, ePub, and MOBI formats) downloadable from your account today. Unfortunately, this is a manual process, but your copy will be downloadable before the day is out.
    • We’ll also email you a code to download another of our titles for free. It’s the least we can do.
    • And we’ll let you know when we have an ETA for sending you the paperback.
    If you haven’t ordered the book yet, but want to, we have some good news: We’ll keep Practical Empathy available for pre-order until we can actually ship paperbacks. That means the 30% discount will continue for now.

    If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us. We feel terrible about this situation, and are trying our best to fix it.

    In the meantime, I’m looking to move to Australia.

    —Lou Rosenfeld

    Alexander know about bad days

    Rosenfeld Podcasts

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    I’ve wanted to do podcasts forever. Not because I like the sound of my own voice, but because I’m in the fortunate position of getting to talk to a LOT of brilliant, interesting people in the UX world—and, more and more, outside it. So often I’ve gotten off a call and wished I’d recorded it. Or heard a fantastic talk at a conference and wanted to delve deeper into the topic with the presenter.

    Rosenfeld Media logo--with headphonesWell, it’s nice to have this finally off the back-burner: the first two Rosenfeld Podcasts!

    In the first podcast, “Designing for Villains,” I spoke with Eduardo Ortiz and Donna Lichaw. They participated in an amazing panel—called “Designing for Villains”, coincidentally, at last March’s IA Summit (along with David Bloxsom, Aviva Rosenstein, and Erik Gibb). Have a listen: after all, how often will you get to learn something about the porn industry that’s actually related to your work? (21 minute podcast)

    In the second podcast, “Piaget, Lemony Snicket and Design for Kids,” I interviewed Brett Helquist and Deb Levin Gelman. You may know Deb—she wrote our newest title, Design for Kids: Digital Products for Playing and Learning. You may not know Brett, but you likely know his work—he’s an amazing illustrator of children’s books, best known for his work on the popular Lemony Snicket series. Deb and Brett shared some fantastic anecdotes and advice—from complementary perspectives—about designing and researching different age groups. (15 minute podcast)

    These podcasts are very much experimental. For example, we know very little about editing (and it shows). I know very little about interviewing (and it shows). But practice makes, well, better. And, as Yoda would say, to get better at this we hope. Your feedback will help.

    So thanks! And enjoy.