The project

The iBooks project was a 9-month contract position with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, an American educational publisher. The project involved re-purposing the content of 13 existing high school textbooks for the new Apple iBooks format.

The team

A team of contractors were brought in to design these books under the art direction of Simon Roche. These were divided into the book designers, dealing with the design and layout of static content on the page, and interaction designers, dealing with the design of interactive content that would live inside widgets embedded in the iBooks. My role was as interaction designer.

The scale

This was a very challenging role as there would be around 30 different interaction types all of which needed a consistent styling and user experience. The role involved designing a set of identifier icons for each interaction type, the on-page design of the widget containers, the in-widget designs and the design QA of all widgets. The production method was highly complex with vendors in India, America and Eastern Europe producing different aspects such as the book content pour, the Keynote widget design, the HTML5 widget design, 3D objects, animations and so on. The full team reached into triple figures as there were also extensive editorial staff, a learning design vendor, QA vendors and project managers.

My role

As one of two interaction designers on the project, it was my job to take learning design requirements for each widget type and turn these into user flows, present and steer these through multi-stakeholder meetings until approval was reached, then hone the UI design, communicate the behaviour and design to the production vendors through extensive style guides and conference call walk-throughs, and to oversee production and QA of literally thousands of widget interactions.

The result

The end result iBooks received accolades from Apple for having pushed the boundaries of iBooks interactions with many individual books reaching top ten positioning in the iTunes education section. The iBooks also received a 2013 Award of Excellence from Tech and Learning.

Extending my role

I interviewed for a permanent position at the end of the contract and was taken on full-time. A year and a half later, I was promoted to Senior Design Architect. A year later again, I was promoted to Lead Design Architect (a role roughly equivalent to Art Director).