Author Services, B2C
Designer // Founder
Frontlist simplifies the insanely laborious book launch process. It relies on well-designed workflows that hide complexity from the user - while still getting them through the process, and enjoying it.
Thoughtfully researched, well-executed experience design is vital. It's the premise of the entire app.
Experiencing The Problem First Hand
In 2021, I began publishing books as an independent author. What I found was absolute mayhem. Traditional publishing is an old industry, but even the self-publishing workflows, which are theoretically more “modern” are fractured, inconsistent and opaque.
I attended conferences, joined writers’ groups, became a member of trade associations and I found that whenever I spoke to a self-published author, they had the same problems as me. Launching a book was infuriating.
Three things were broken:
heavily fractured workflows
lack of automation
extreme user overwhelm
Workflows & Automation
The first step in planning out the application was to consider all the workflows involved from “I have a book” to “My book is launched and people know about it.”
There are 60-80 milestones in any given book launch! And multiple tasks per milestone.
After I identified all the tasks, I mapped out the dependencies between them and plotted them on a timeline. For each milestone, I evaluated if and how it could be automated. The goal was not only to simply the work being done but also to remove as much of it from the user’s plate as possible.
The following two slides highlight a single milestone and how we were able to simplify it.
Tackling The Overwhelm
Authors just want to write. Yet to launch a self-published book, the sheer amount of work to get done is overwhelming. Worse, there is no single source of truth that explains what to do, when, and how.
The information that is available can often appear contradictory because the process is conditional upon what a person’s launch goals are. The copious information on the web isn’t clearly categorized by launch goals. So “launch goals” became the starting point to onboard into this app. All of those 60-80 milestones are conditionally shown or hidden depending on which goals you choose, as well as a few other factors.
Following the onboarding, users are presented with a single task to do daily. Because authors are frequently technology adverse, the UI for this app could not be similar to a typical tech productivity or project management app. There are NO Gantt charts, no dashboards full of stats, and no complex task management — there is just one thing to do today.
Lastly, when an author is ready to look ahead, they can do so by glimpsing the timeline. This plots all of their milestones in a simple to read fashion. There is no complexity. All the conditions, dependencies, and variables are visible. Just a simple view of what’s coming when.
Frontlist has yet to launch, but the reaction from user validation interviews has been overwhelmingly positive. There's a clear and pressing need in the market.