Writing UX Books: The First Steps

The first step of any journey is always the most difficult. Writing UX books isn’t any different. It’s easy to make the decision to embark on a long writing project. Actually starting one is the tricky bit.
Some time ago, I made the choice to start my first book-length writing project, on niche UX specialties. Then, I strutted up to the edge of the Great White Abyss before pausing for some time. I kicked rocks and muttered about all the reasons why this was the absolute worst time to begin writing a book.
I have a 3-month old son that requires the usual amount of sleep sacrifice, which is “all the sleep.” I’m on a huge fitness push at the moment. This means sacrificing my lunch breaks to hit the gym while also limiting my calorie intake. The Rockies are on a playoff push, and Broncos season is starting.
I’m tired, sore, hungry, and distracted.
This will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

The First Steps

I’m working off of the premise that all writing projects are actually pretty similar. This applies even when writing UX books. In the interest of full disclosure, this is a good time to mention that this is not my first writing rodeo. I studied journalism in college. I worked as a sports writer for The Denver Daily News as well as the Denver Broncos. With the Broncos, I wrote for DenverBroncos.com and their “Gameday” magazine.
What many people don’t realize is that you can be successful in any writing project. The key is following a consistent, proven approach. There are literally thousands of guides to writing nonfiction books. While their approaches might vary, the basic advice is always the same.
1. Define your project. 2. Research your subject. 3. Plan & outline your writing with care. 4. Write, while sticking to your plan. 5. Edit and revise the ever-living crap out of your manuscript.
Currently, I’m sort of wandering between steps 1, 2, and 3.
This week, I brainstormed with the wonderful members of the UXMastery community. I gathered thoughts and feedback from the Twitterverse. This all helped define which UX niches have the most interest, and which I may have overlooked.
I’m also building a list of articles and books to read. This list will help get me up-to-speed on the various UX disciplines I plan on including in the book. The community at UXMastery has been brilliant in gathering resources. Ditto for my my friends on Twitter. To say that I have a lot of reading to do is an understatement.

The Outline – Writing UX Books With a Plan

Writing an outline for any writing project is the most useful start any project can have. It helps break a large project down into much smaller, easier-to-digest chunks. It makes the whole project seem way more manageable and organized.
Which is why it’s always the first major piece I start after defining a project.
For this large of the project, I actually have a few separate outlines. One will serve as a sort of master outline, covering the book as a whole. Another will serve as a template for each individual chapter. The introduction outline seeks to center the conversation around ethical UX. The summary outline will discuss the key takeaways.
The great Terry Pratchett once said “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” This is true of both manuscripts and outlines. I expect that my outline will change quite a bit as the project moves on.

The Coming Week

I have three goals this week.
I will narrow down the list of topic contenders to the most interesting and relevant. I will read as much as of my research materials as I can. I will firm up my master book outline.
The journey will be a long one. Already I can see that there is so much to do. It will be difficult.  Writing UX books is no marshmallow challenge.
But I have taken the first step into the Great White Abyss, and I am confident.


The UX Universe: The Saga of UX Niches Begins

This week, I’ve begun work on my first book-length UX project, which I’m calling The UX Universe until my brain cooperates and comes up with a snappier title.

The driving force behind the project is the variety of UX specialties that exist out there, with room for growth and improvement, but that get very little writing or discussion.

It could be that they’re highly technical.  Maybe they’re only used in very specific industries or contexts.

Possibly they’re just a little bit… uncouth.

My goal is to answer a few questions on each topic to provide a rundown of the work to new UX professionals or current UXers looking for a career change.

  • What is this specialty?
  • Why is it important?
  • Where is it most commonly utilized?
  • Who are some industry leaders in the field?
  • What are some best practices for this specialty?
  • What are the ethical considerations and concerns?

With the help of my friends over at UXMastery.com’s forums, I’m working on building a list of specialties to research.  These specialties include:

  • Childhood
  • Senior (age 65+)
  • “Adult Content” sites
  • Accessibility
  • Intranet/Corporate Wikis/Blogs
  • Dark Patterns1
  • 10 foot design3
  • Interactive Digital Signage2
  • Self-Driving Automotive UX
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Online Gambling
  • Gaming UX
  • Dark Web
  • Email
  • UX… In… SPAAAACE! (Space/Aviation UX)

What in the UX Universe am I missing?

The best book projects are collaborations.  This is no exception.  I want your feedback on what will make The UXiverse one of the best UX books you’ve ever read.

So how can you help?  Tell me: do you know of a UX niche that deserves some love and attention?  Do you have any good resources or professionals to reach out to?  Leave me a comment below, or contact me via email at Doug@DenverUXer.com or on twitter @5280_CS.