An interview on the state of UX with Lou Rosenfeld
If you like to read about UX, you probably have at least one book that was written or published by Lou Rosenfeld. Aside from being a publisher, Lou is stil going strong as an independent information architecture consultant. We thought it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the development of UX as a field, and see what he is up to in general.
As a publisher of UX books and numerous UX-community related initiatives, you must have a good grasp of the UX community. What do you think are the most notable changes in this community and why? And can you predict how the community will evolve in the upcoming year?
The remarkable lesson for me regarding the UX community has little to do with where it’s going or where it’s been. It has everything to do with where it is now.
Gadflies like me are visible in UX-related publications, on related discussion lists, and at UX events. (In fact, I’ll publicly confess right here and now to being a conference slut.) But the vast majority of UX people—the “dark matter” of the community—aren’t even lurkers. They’re people who go about quietly doing their work—quite expertly in many cases—without being engaged in what many of us consider to be the UX community. In fact, I’d best that most of them don’t associate themselves with UX, or even know the term.
I imagine that Usabilla’s goal, like mine as Rosenfeld Media‘s publisher, is to reach that “dark matter” and make a case to them to engage more in the community. It may be a fool’s errand, but it’s worth the effort, as we’ll all be better off for it.
As an information architect, you work with messy information problems with big companies. Do you still touch base with UX designers in small companies and startups?
Sure, but mostly in contexts other than consulting—like at the UX happy hour I help organize here in Brooklyn. Or while gathering around the UX Bookmobile that Rosenfeld Media brings to many conferences.
What challenges and chances do you see in the rapid evolution of the information ecosystem (think API’s, Big Data, etc).
Two words: service design. APIs can help catalyze more unified information ecosystems, but they’re only a piece of the puzzle. You still need at least minimal design to imagine new possibilities and tie all these channels together in a meaningful, engaging way. I think service design may offer guidance to those of us who are trying to design the infrastructure needed for vibrant, successful information ecosystems.
Do you have any cool books up your sleeve?
Oh, gosh. Now that Search Analytics for Your Site is finally done, I’m finished with writing for the foreseeable future. But Rosenfeld Media has, at this moment, 14 cool books in the pipeline (and more new book signings on the way). Our next two titles, John Ferrara’s Playful Design and Rachel Hinman’s The Mobile Frontier, are looking fantastic. Not that I’m biased or anything.
How do you balance your work as an information architect and a publisher?
Oh, that’s easy: I work about 80 hours per week (much more on publishing than consulting). The good news is that I love my work, so I really don’t mind. The bad news is that I love my kids even more, meaning I’m constantly missing out on getting a decent night’s sleep. But you only go around once…
You must know a lot of interesting people. Who should we follow on Twitter?
That’s really not a fair question. I’m following 1,492 people. Many of them are, indeed, really interesting. Some who immediately come to mind—mostly because of tweets from the past 24 hours or so—are @aaroni268, @becbury, @james3neal, and @danachis.
Thanks for the great questions!
More about Lou
Lou Rosenfeld is an independent information architecture consultant for Fortune 500 corporations and other large organizations, and founder of Rosenfeld Media, a publishing house focused on user experience books. He has been instrumental in helping establish the fields of information architecture and user experience, and in articulating the role and value of librarianship within those fields. Lou is co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (O’Reilly; 3rd edition 2006) and Search Analytics for Your Site (Rosenfeld Media, 2011), co-founder of the Information Architecture Institute, and a former columnist for Internet World, CIO, and Web Review. He blogs regularly and tweets @louisrosenfeld even more so.