eBook publishing is still a lot harder than it should be, usually involving workers with Web-development skills—Michael’s work on Vook helped make this complex task easy. Vook is an end-to-end cloud-based epublishing solution. With Vook, users can create and publish their ebook anywhere; build and style awesome looking ebooks without knowing any code; easily add video, pictures and sound; preview their ebooks quickly and easily on any device; manage metadata simply; watch sales from multiple channels in one dashboard.
Right after Vook’s public launch, Michael began using a combination of web analytics and usability testing to optimize user conversion. The result included a website redesign that led to a 17% lift in traffic from the homepage to the trial sign-up page, as well as changes to the signup process.
One example of the improved signup process is a unified login and signup page—reducing the need to drive users to the correct page. Michael also worked with engineering to remove as much friction as possible, reducing the signup workflow from a five-step process to a single step.
From one dashboard, users can start a new project, quickly see the status of current projects and even get sales data from multiple ebook marketplaces—including Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
In addition to an easy user experience and flexible workflow, the Vook Boilerplate and Style Editor are two major contributions Michael personally made to Vook. To learn how ebooks work, Michael learned how to hand code them. During that process, Michael quickly realized an HTML and CSS boilerplate could be devised for rapid development. The boilerplate could also be packed with best practices and allow for graceful degradation. Michael’s work on the initial Vook boilerplate led him to the idea of a graphic user interface that abstracted CSS concepts enough for someone who does not code to be able to style an ebook at the level of someone that can—but still powerful enough for a hand-coding pro. It was great working with Vook engineers to take the initial boilerplate concept to the next level using HTML and CSS precompilers. Even more rewarding is seeing what Vook users can do with the Style Editor Michael designed for them.
Metadata Made Easy
Metadata is the lifeblood of ebook marketing and key to the discoverability that leads to ebook sales. Managing all of the data is a huge challenge, as each ebook store has differing requirements—sometimes for the same data. Michael created a streamlined user experience by analyzing all of the data sets and collapsing it down to a unified UI broken into three task clusters.
Push Button Distribution
One of the major promises of Vook is push button distribution to multiple ebook distribution channels. Normally, this action requires organizing files for each platform, gathering and preparing metadata XML files or logging into each channel where the user must retype the same data over and over, while uploading the same files multiple times. The distribution user-flow Michael created for Vook distills all of this down to a single, easy and painless process.