Not Just For Dummies: How Publisher Wiley Stays Smart with Experience Design

Publishers may have once viewed digital media as a competitive threat. Now, they realize it offers a competitive advantage.

While it’s true many people still read books from cover to cover, there’s undeniable demand from people of all ages to access more mobile content that offers dynamic experiences. Publishers enhancing their traditional approaches to creating and delivering content with digital experiences will thrive.

To ensure continued success in the digital realm, research and education publisher Wiley has initiated a widespread cultural and technological transformation. Known among a broader audience for publishing the For Dummies books, the 212-year-old publisher’s many imprints and brands produce academic textbooks, online learning programs, professional certification study guides, and hundreds of scientific journals.

To create richer, more dynamic digital experiences for learners, Wiley looks closely at how its internal teams work to uncover the best paths to change, recognizing design-led thinking as a vital tool.

“We’re not a tech company, but we’re becoming a more agile, modern business by focusing on how we can bring innovation and creativity into everything we do,” says Brian Morrison, Creative Director for Corporate Marketing at Wiley.

Design is more than just decoration

The biggest challenge with incorporating design-thinking, is changing common misconceptions about design and innovation. Brian wants to show his colleagues the creative process is not only about adding logos and images at the end of a project – it’s about building experiences that delight customers and satisfy a real-world need. Design thinking needs to infuse every project from beginning to end.

This lesson is at the core of Wiley’s innovation program, which has already trained more than 400 employees. The program features workshops that teach employees fundamental experience design skills, including how to present digital material to readers, how to think about a reader’s journey and the impact of design, and how an experience should align with a product. Wiley staff participating in training walk away with a greater appreciation for the customer journey and the impact of design as well as the know-how to contribute to the innovation process.

“Wiley colleagues recognize the importance of working together creatively, and it’s making us more efficient, to the point where we’re getting a proof of concept done in three months instead of nine,” says Brian. “We’re putting innovation at the forefront of our business and taking serious steps to becoming a modern publisher for the digital age.”

Bringing ideas to life with Adobe XD

The innovation program acts as an incubator for creativity across Wiley, and Adobe XD has proven to be a valuable tool as workshop attendees take their ideas from the program into the company. Brian is charged with executing on projects that arise, and he often uses Adobe XD as a mind-mapping whiteboard to bring ideas to life in a non-linear way.

“It’s a big jump to start thinking about non-linear experiences. If we needed to turn a 20-page PDF journal into a website, for example, some people could struggle because they tend to think page-to-page,” says Brian. “Adobe XD plays a major role in our success by providing a lightweight but powerful tool for understanding experience design and helping us organize information in new ways.”

Brian builds working website prototypes with colleagues around the world – collaborative brainstorming sessions that stay focused on reader experiences, thanks to the rapid prototyping capabilities within Adobe XD. The visual mapping supported by the app improves communication among team members, especially when they need to bring in subject matter experts, such as a researcher to help improve the process for journal reviews.

“Having a clickable prototype makes a world of difference as we collaborate with non-designers,” says Brian. “We can explain why having eight layers of menu items could result in a bad user experience, but being able to click through a prototype makes it much easier to understand.”

How Wiley is becoming an experience business

Wiley exemplifies a traditional publishing company transforming itself into an experience business and remaining relevant in the digital age. Its culture of innovation and creativity has already produced efficiencies in existing digital products and rapidly builds more solutions to help individuals achieve their education goals. Adobe XD has sparked a lot of excitement for further innovation, including the ability to experiment with voice interactions.

“We’re seeing a really effective feedback loop with Adobe XD,” says Brian. “That’s why I keep coming back to XD. It’s important for people to see how design and user-centered experience are so essential, especially as we expand our digital offerings.”

Wiley is building a culture of innovation to keep up with learners’ shifting preferences—using Adobe XD to facilitate rapid prototyping and bring ideas to life across media. Learn more about Adobe XD here.