In this three-part series, I’ll explain how you, too, can publish and present on the field of user experience. In Part 1, I’ll discuss the benefits of publishing and presenting, as well as explore the excuses that prevent people from doing either. In Part 2, I’ll share my experiences and my approach to writing and getting published. And in Part 3, I’ll give advice on presenting at conferences and other events.
Why Publish and Present?
Publishing and presenting is a lot of work, especially when you’re already a busy UX professional. So why bother? Here are a few reasons you should.
It’s the Right Thing to Do
All of us in the UX community benefit when we share our knowledge and experiences. If you benefit from reading articles and attending conferences, you may feel the desire to give back and share your own knowledge.
It Feels Good
It’s a nice ego boost to share your knowledge and have others appreciate it. You get a sense of pride and accomplishment in achieving something very difficult.
It Looks Good
Writing and publishing gives you professional recognition and raises your profile in the UX community. It looks good on your resume, on Twitter, and on your LinkedIn profile. It’s an accomplishment that will impress your current employer, clients, and coworkers, as well as prospective clients and employers.
It’s a Great Way to Network
At a conference, it’s easier to meet people and have conversations on interesting topics when you’re a presenter. Publishing gets your name out there in the UX community and beyond, opens opportunities in the field of user experience, connects you with others, and gives you things to talk about with people. Both publishing and presenting generate activity and gain you followers on Twitter and other social media.
It Helps You to Attend Conferences
Presenters usually receive a free or discounted registration for conferences, and it’s easier to get your employer to pay your travel and conference fees if you’re presenting rather than simply attending.
Money shouldn’t be your motivation for publishing and presenting. Few UX Web sites, magazines, or journals pay for articles. Those that do pay, don’t pay very much. Conferences give you a discount, but don’t pay speakers. Don’t expect to make a lot of money from publishing and presenting, unless you eventually become a famous user experience guru.
Excuses Not to Publish or Present
With all of these benefits, why don’t more people publish or present? It usually comes down to one or more of the following reasons.
You Feel That You Don’t Have Anything to Say
Before you begin publishing and presenting, it can be difficult to think of subjects to write about. Write about what you know may be a cliché, but it’s true. We all have a variety of experiences to draw upon. Think about the situations that you’ve faced in your career—difficult clients, difficult coworkers, mistakes you’ve made, terrible projects, successes, failures, funny anecdotes, odd research participants—and the things you’ve learned from such situations. The longer you’ve been working in the field of user experience, the more experiences you can draw upon—but even people who are new to the field have things to say and write about. For example, a new UX professional could write about transitioning into the field, educational experiences, working in user experience from the perspective of a new employee, and many other topics.
Everything’s Already Been Written About
At times, it may seem like everything that you could publish or present has already been covered by others, but it isn’t true. Yes, there are times when certain topics become so overexposed that their possibilities become exhausted, and it’s best to avoid them for a while. But there are always new topics to discuss and new perspectives on existing topics. For example, just because a lot of people have written about usability testing, that doesn’t mean no one will ever write about it again. Even if you do write an article that is similar to one that someone else has published in the past, it’s doubtful that your take on the subject will be exactly the same as theirs.