Now available: Design for Impact by Erin Weigel

UX Zeitgeist now in alpha

05/05/2007

You may have noticed that our site looks a little different. That’s because we’ve added a link to our new service, UX Zeitgeist, to our site-wide navigation system (you’ll see it in the upper right-hand corner).

What on earth is UX Zeitgeist? (Go here for a definition of “zeitgeist”.)

We’re not entirely sure ourselves just yet. But we think it’ll be good.

If you poke around, you’ll find a growing and amazing collection of UX books and topics for possible books. These have been nominated by members of the UX community who we’ve invited to participate. Our goal is to eventually gather the collective opinion of the entire UX world on what UX books matter, and which ones need to be written. Because this requires significant manual effort, we’re limiting those invitations for now; you can get details on participating here.

It gets better: for each person, book, and topic in the system, we’re creating mini-mashups that aggregate the best UX-related information we can find. If you’re interested in who’s discussing a particular book, learning more about a particular UX topic, and, well, ego-surfing like mad, we think you’ll find these pages quite useful. Check out a sample book page to get a sense of the content sources we’re pulling in.

Like data visualization? UX Zeitgeist’s item pages include graphics that show you how each person, topic, and book is performing over time and against a leader for a variety of categories. We present them in a condensed form:

Click on one, and you’ll be presented with an expanded view:

But perhaps the site’s greatest value is in its indices. For example, the book index allows you to sort by all sorts of criteria, such as sales rank, number of citations, and blogosphere buzz. And we wrap up all of those numbers into an overall rank for each book and topic:

New York Times Bestseller list, eat your heart out! We go far beyond sales here. Ditto for our topic index. And by the way, you can keep up with all of UX Zeitgeist’s indices as they grow via RSS.

We hope that the UX Zeitgeist book index will eventually comprise the canon, or even library, of all UX books, based on communal wisdom. This ought to be a far more scalable approach than, say, a single volunteer maintaining the library of UX. And the index of topics for desired books will help not just Rosenfeld Media but any publisher who wants to factor in UX community needs to drive its decisions on what books to publish. So all in all, it should help the growth of UX through more books that address the community’s needs.

So, there are many possible benefits—to UX practitioners who want to learn more, to the UX community, which can benefit from a library and from more, better UX books, and to publishers, who will be able to better meet the UX community’s needs.

Naturally, we’ll issue the standard “it’s in alpha” disclaimer, as well as point you to known bugs. Eventually, we plan to add search functionality, and way off, UX Zeitgeist could likely serve well as a recommender system.

But for now, we hope you’ll kick the tires, let us know if you want to participate, and especially let us know your thoughts and suggestions.