I love doing end of the year recaps and previews. It’s a fun way to consider what we achieved in 2019, and to look toward what we hope to achieve in 2020. Having a benchmark to shoot for helps all of us work on realistic goals. So what does that mean for 2020 and Lulu?
I promise you this, I will NOT make any 20/20 hindsight or vision related puns.
New Decade, New Everything
More than celebrating a new year, we’re ushering in a whole new decade. Here at Lulu, we’ll mark 2020 as a year of tremendous change and growth for our entire company. Why? Because we’ve got something huge coming soon.
Fact is, Lulu—the website and publishing tools—are old. One executive years ago used a bus metaphor when considering the company. All of us, from employee to author to reader, are on this bus. And at a certain point, the bus starts to get old. It’s lacking features like GPS, adjustable seats, luggage compartments, that other buses have.
The older the bus gets, the harder it is for that bus to compete with flashy new buses.
I hate this metaphor. But I bring it up because it works in this context. In 2020, Lulu is trading in our old and busted bus for a new one. Which, unpacked from the confines of this mediocre metaphor, means that we’re updating and upgrading our site.
Small Changes Coming to Fruition
We’ve been on a steady course of improvement for over two years. Reopening our Lulu Print API for open access to our print network came first. Then we used that newly refashioned API to create Lulu xPress, a stripped-down version of our new publishing tool. Next we ported Lulu xPress to a Shopify App, bringing self-publishing and ecommerce together into a seamless experience.
The most significant of these changes was moving our print interface to an API based design. Doing so (through some technical wizardry that goes beyond my understanding) gives us far more control over the design and function of Lulu.com. Little problems that we couldn’t touch for fear of breaking our site can now be dealt with in a matter of days or weeks. Moreover, we can respond to requests for new features.
All of which adds up to major improvements for users and our developers.
What it All Means
Simply that, in the new year, Lulu will undergo huge changes. The basic function of our site will remain. You’ll still create an account, upload your file, add your metadata, and publish your book. We’ll still offer global distribution and our bookstore isn’t going anywhere.
What will change is the technology we use to power the site. And the aesthetic will update to match our more modern website.
We’ve already opened up our new design as a beta site to several users. Feedback has poured in, helping us make informed choices about the development path we’ll pursue.
Which leads to (in my humble opinion) the most significant thing 2020 will bring for Lulu and our users: the technical opportunity to grow. For years we’ve hesitated to make substantive changes for fear it would damage the functionality of our website. But now we’re resetting all of that, meaning we can iterate new tools and new designs based on your feedback.
It’s Already Begun
It’s true. Day three of 2020 and we’ve already started planning and releasing features you asked for.
In fact, we made our first change in October, when we added Comic Book and Magazine specific options. Users had long asked for the size to be corrected (as the classic Lulu comic book size was just a little off) and the ability to print on the inside cover. Our old system made these changes difficult. But our API based platform makes this update a matter of coordinating with our printers, testing the interface, and releasing it to the wild!
Where 2020 Will Take Us
You’ll start to see the biggest changes in the next few months. We will focus the rest of 2020 on gathering information about how our updates are received and how you’re using our site. We’ll also continue to accept your direct input through our Idea Board.
By all measures, 2019 was a great success for Lulu. We’re bringing the energy and commitment that made 2019 so strong into the new year. And we’re directing all of that energy toward ensuring Lulu remains the best way for you to publish, print, and prosper.
And look at that; we got through this entire post without a single glasses related pun or vision joke. What an awesome start to the new year!