40 Days of Challenges

The journal of Niels Kijf

Challenge 5 – The E-book Challenge

Creating my first e-book

6-10 februari 2017

New week. New Energy. This week I will go full focus on my E-book Challenge: “Design Principles – The samurai sword for Digital Product Designers”.

It has the most votes, see my “Vote on my challenges” page . It’s seems there is interest in that subject, I understand you can’t hardly call this a validation, but what I do know;

About to start on a new digital product endeavor? Define your Design Principles first! #startup #ux #ui.Click To Tweet

It aligns your team. Sets the compass for your decision making and you can involve stakeholder before you start any work. Creating buy-in before your start. Interested in this subject?

Consider signing up to the mailinglist below, and I will let you know when Design Principles First – The Sumarai sword for Digital product designers is ready.

Day 15 | Friday | E-book Challenge

I put 100% of my content and sketches in Sketch, ready to start writing the content.

  • Added in ideas for schematics and illustrations, will try todo the cover and the eco-system schematic, as they are key in the ebook.
  • I will add an extra full week to get the first iteration ready. I will ask my design friends and a couple of companies to give me feedback on the text-only version.
  • Did research on the e-pub format and my experience in html/css, which is dated 5 years, could still be of valuable asset in the production of my first e-book. Epub seems to be html in a zip with some xml.


  • Using the search function for artboards, content in artboards and being able to see the whole content in relation is an amazing asset to me.
  • In the next iteration I will sort the artboards and subject, and will isolate the red – most important – items on a new page, and start iterating those areas.
  • Setting the page size to A5, and the font-size to 20 helps choosing content, and keeps the content factual and concise.
  • Finishing the Design Principles for the Design Principles e-book is a no-brainer. That need to go first. The pre-requisites need to go second, these to items will help me set direction for the rest of the ebook.


Day 14 | Thursday | E-book Challenge

80% of the content in Sketch. Setup a structure and arranged the content accordingly. The current themes are; understand, create, use and tune.


  • A limited setup of materials helps setup a first version. If needed I can iterate with new research if needed.
  • I am using a Design approach to creating an ebook, not just a text editor. This really helps me to focus, and dive deep into the subject and add in my own experience.
  • Creating an e-book in 5 days using this design approach is not going to happen. But that’s not really a surprise, it did help me set the direction.

Day 13 | Wednesday | E-book Challenge

It’s 7:03 AM, woke up early today.
Today I want to grind to get the content into Sketch.
Hope I will manage. Wil do a little movie on the progress.

<movie here – will add this in later>

– Off-topic-
A friend of a friend reached out to me, she wants to stay on Ibiza for half a year. I stayed in Ibiza from June’14 until June’15, sort of a sabbatical. She asked if I can give her some pointers on housing and people she should meet. She is going to write music, nice.

Day 12 | TuesdayE-book Challenge

Today I want to bring the structure into Sketch. This program is not intended for this purpose, perhaps it will fall on it’s face, we will see. This is going to be fun, I will find a way. What I do know is that the overview the Sketch UI brings, being able to snap to content, makes it work for me. (Sketch for Content production..)

First I will setup the outline in artboards. If this is done I will start and drag bits and pieces into place.

Goal: Hopefully a visual index of the ebook, sorting, organizing and structuring the outline in a visual way.

Outcome:  I brought 6 pages into Sketch, 44 to go, this is going to take a while, let’s see if things speed up.

Worked from home, was so occupied in bringing content into Sketch that I forgot time.

Day 11 | MondayE-book Challenge

  • I indexed all my notes on the subject, gathered articles, and brainstormed my own insights from past projects. I think I found a couple of golden nuggets. (Complete)
  • Did desk-research of the history of the Samurai Sword, and found some amazing Japanese proverbs. Which fit the subject of Design Principles like a glove. (Complete)
  • Created a moodboard for the look & feel, (In development)

Day 11 | Insights

indexing a limited set of materials.

First day, indexing a limited set of materials.

I worked at Volkshotel for 4 hours. Working with only offline materials – I printed all my sources & notes – intense but fulfilling.

Question: Do you know of any good places in Amsterdam, where you can work a full day for a cup of coffee or two? Let me know in the comments!

Like all creative endeavours it’s a messy process, but I think I linked and indexed the notes together quite nicely. The first outline is becoming clear.

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See my work at Niels Kijf portfolio website