I joined Inkling in 2009 as a founding member of the company, reporting to the CEO and serving as Head of Design and later VP of Design until 2015. During my tenure at Inkling, I led the product design of our initial iPad app release, oversaw the design production of over 100 college-level textbooks onto our interactive learning platform, and directed the UX/UI for our web-based production tools.
Over my time at Inkling, I was responsible for building the design team. I hired, managed, and mentored over 30 full-time designers, researchers, and front-end developers as well as part-time contractors and interns. At our largest, design was a 21–member organization. The team was integral to many parts of the business, and included product design for consumer and enterprise applications, user research, internal design tools, UX prototyping, design support for sales, brand, and creative marketing.
Inkling for iPad
Our initial design challenge was how to translate information-rich textbook layouts to the new form factor of the iPad. We knew we wanted to be more than a PDF reader. We wanted to create an experience for reading that incorporated the best that digital technology affords—multiple media and modes, links, search, social features—with what’s good about print—intuitive wayfinding, spatial memory, and ease of annotation.
We incorporated video and audio media into Inkling e-books and developed tools to create new, interactive learning experiences such as guided tours, quizzes, and flashcards from static print assets. We made textbooks easily searchable and indexable, and we added a social layer of shared notes that students and teachers could use together.
Over time, the company moved away from a consumer model, selling digital books to end users, to an enterprise SaaS model, selling our cloud-based content platform, Inkling Habitat, to educational publishers and internal learning and development teams within organizations. This involved pivoting the product design, brand marketing, and research teams to focus on customers in the enterprise.