Course Creators November 17, 2020

Designing User Interfaces - how I sold 1800 copies in a few months

Michal Malewicz @michalmalewicz

designing user interfaces

Hi, I'm new here, so as a "hello" post I'd like to share my journey with you.
Especially since today is the last day of the lowered price ;)

https://designingui.com

The story is simple - I'm teaching a university class on Design and my students were asking me constantly which book were the PDF materials I kept sending them from. As they were made by me, especially for the class I decided to take action and after 15 months of work released the eBook which due to many actionable paths through can also be considered a UI design course.

Some data:

  • 1800+ sales since March 14th, 2020 - mostly in the $50-$75 range.
  • 4.98/5 score
  • 511 pages as of today (biggest UI design book in the world) + growing
  • Living "ebook" with new chapters added monthly in 2020
  • We give 50 pages away for free on the book page.

The book is being used by both startups and large corporations and banks. Most of the US universities (including Stanford, Yale, and others) purchased at least one copy.

It got rave reviews from the users and we're getting emails from people saying how they "leveled up" because of it. That's awesome!

=== HOW IT STARTED ===

Back in 2018, I had no online presence - 100 followers on Twitter and no reach. I started writing the book and made a newsletter, to which the first signups were from my university class. For months I only had 40-60 people subscribed, but I shared the initial chapters there to see what people want to read about - what they're missing from their current classes, etc.

I released the first free chapter (22 pages) in March 2019 and the word of mouth spread - got about 1K downloads and +100 subscribers in a little over a week.

I started writing on Medium in August 2019 and my reach there grew very quickly resulting in even more subscribers. Ended 2019 with 5000 people in the newsletter.

=== HOW IT'S GOING ===

I launched a YouTube channel with free tutorials, started doing redesign events, a slack community, and more. The idea was to be active and show that even if you don't buy the book there's still a lot you can learn from us. Having this as the primary motivation meant we were able, to be honest, and the relationship with the audience was simply better.

The book also gets monthly updates, so it was a natural incentive to "Build in Public" and that worked very well too.

Current stats:

  • YouTube - started in April 2020 - 3200 subscribers in November 2020.
  • Medium - Started in August 2019 - nearly 8K Followers in November 2020
  • Books sold - 1800+

Bottom line

It was a huge risk to start a project that big without a big audience, but I managed to build the audience as I was writing the book. In the end, it allowed me to start working on other books and courses, so it's a great start to building a product.

If you have any specific questions on how we launched, or anything about the book/marketing / promotion, etc ask away :)

I'll be happy to answer.

  1. 4

    As a regular IH, just wanted to chime in with an endorsement. I've had the book since it first came out and am a huge fan, also and watcher of Michal's videos. It's one of the resources I most often recommend for mobile design and especially to developers trying to expand their design skills.

  2. 3

    Also - if you'd like to download the free chapters but don't want to signup for our newsletter here's the direct link:
    https://designingui.com/designing_interfaces_12_x.pdf

  3. 2

    Thanks for sharing the amazing journey you've had, and welcome to IH!

    1. 1

      Thank you! It was a huge risk and I had my doubts during it, but in the end that effort was amazingly well received :)

  4. 2

    @michalmalewicz I loved reading about entire journey. The dedication you had throughout those years was commendable. Usually people quickly get intimidated and shy away from the actual efforts it takes to grow a product (in this case your book).

    I am going to be launching my own product, ruttl very soon. It is specifically built for the designer community. Can you suggest me few ways of how I can acquire 100 users for the product? You can visit this link to use the product itself in case you want to share your opinion after reviewing it.

    1. 1

      Hey,
      So rule number one is to give something away for free - even the story of how you're building it can get people interested. Or some articles that are useful.

      Or a demo.

      And if you focus on quality people will get interested :)

      1. 1

        That's an interesting tip for sure. I agree.
        Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  5. 2

    Never heard of this. I would definitely have a look to it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. 2

    Nice one Michal, thanks for sharing the journey! Great to see you on IH!

    1. 1

      I joined 3 months ago but was too scared to post ;-)

  7. 1

    How much time would you spend on this project every week and what’s your way to keep yourself motivated during the whole process ?

    1. 1

      The first weeks I was working 4h a day on this (mostly after regular client-work)
      So the plan was "no free time, until I get it done"

      Then I relaxed a bit and worked 2h a day for some time, but the last few months before release were crunch mode - up to 8 hours every day.

      I think the motivation came from "within" a bit, and more so from VERY positive feedback on the previously released free chapters. People were cheering me on and asking when the book is going to be out all the time.

      It definitely helps :)

  8. 1

    @michalmalewicz maybe you should start an online course :-)

    1. 1

      While this book in a way is a course (due to the structure of delivery) we're working on a video course for 2021 :)

  9. 1

    Thanks for sharing. Really neat seeing your progress.

  10. 1

    Awesome work Michal, just read this from your referral on twitter!

  11. 1

    An excellent book to develop or to expand UI skills. The updates are a real added value. Very cool to share your metrics; it encourages me to write.

    • Do you plan a print version (maybe not interesting for digital subjects) and a translation in other languages?
    • I'm having a little trouble with gumroad UX. What's your opinion, would you recommend this platform?
    • On your youtube channel, I really like the "audit" and "redesign" videos. My impression, these videos are the best viewing performance. Do you agree with me?

    Congratulations and thank you for your book

    1. 2

      Hi! Thanks! :)

      1. We have a Polish version (but English version was done first) and there's a Russian version in the works. We're open to translations, but it's a huge undertaking. As for the printed book - we will see when we close the current set of updates for 2020, as before it wouldn't make sense to make a print book - impossible to update ;)

      2. They have a couple of things that work great - good payment processing, pdf stamping etc. And there are some bugs and issues that are annoying. But nothing really better than it sadly.

      3. There are some technology reviews videos I did (just three or so) that are doing way better than those, but in terms of getting the right crowd those redesigns and audits work best. Besides we do those audits for our community members who purchased the book - so they also get a free audit with tips on how to improve if they have the book :)

      Thanks!

  12. 1

    Congrats! I bought it a while ago and find it very useful. Great work!

    1. 1

      Awesome! Thanks so much! :)

  13. 1

    Hello Michal

    You know what.. I've recently started writing my own book regarding UI/UX. Your story is really motivating!

    Could you share your Medium and maybe some tips on how to grow your audience? I see that you have only 900 followers on Twitter, but way too more on Medium.

    What is the most reasonable way of going through your journey? I mean, okay, I have an idea and I started writing.

    Now, I tried to do some pre-sells, in order to test if people will buy it. Got ~20 sells on gumroad and that's it. Not that motivating, but it's still something.

    I haven't yet written much.

    What I want to get is: when I write a big nice article, I want to get something in return, I mean followers or subscriptions.

    I haven't yet started newsletter at all. I'm thinking about stating one, maybe "weekly UI/UX tips" or something like that.

    https://dev.to/vponamariov/validate-it-ultimate-guide-41d1

    Here is an example of my writings. It's really very first attempts.

    But since I love UI/UX stuff, especially interfaces (I'm not a designer, I'm developer but I like to construct interfaces which follows good ux/ui practices), I really want to finish this

    1. 1

      Hi! Glad to be able to motivate :)

      My medium is @michalmalewicz - I focused on Medium more than on Twitter, so a lot more followers there.

      I think you need to build a community (either in a newsletter or on some platform) and share parts of what you're building with them regularly. That's the best way.

      My focus with writing articles wasn't about a return really, more about trying to write something really useful and without even "pushing" the product in those articles. There was a small link to get the book at the bottom, but 99% of my articles (long ones) were about other useful design tips - not related to selling the book.

      Fingers crossed for a successful launch for you,

      all the best!

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