Designing an end to end mobile reading application

The Challenge:
Booksio needs help to create a new user-centric app and establish a brand that will set them apart from the competition.

Goals & Objectives
Design an iOS app that serves the needs and wants of book lovers along with establishing a brand identity for Booksio.

Booksio

Booksio is an app for book lovers that helps users track everything they own, books they have read, what they will read next, and also everything they have loved so far. In essence, it’s quite similar to Goodreads, with the key differentiation being the user-friendly, fresh, and clean design.

Role

User Research, Strategy, Interaction Design, UI Design, Prototyping, Usability Testing

Tools

Sketch, Figma, Adobe Illustrator, Maze, InVision, OptiomalSort

Timeline

2 Weeks | 80 Hours

1. Empathize

Before starting off with the research, I outlined a detailed research plan including the main research goals, methods of research and timeline, in order to focus on achieving the goals of the research. My intention was to gather as much data as possible in such a small amount of time.

Research Plan

I began with market research and competitor analysis before diving into interviews and surveys. Since this was a market I had no familiarity with, I wanted to make sure I was well informed and up to date with current trends in the industry. I also wanted to discover who Booksio's target audience might be and what apps they frequently used.

I did this in order to see what strengths and weaknesses other book tracking apps had, which I would use in the future when planning what features to use.


Interviews & Survey

To better understand the pain points and goals of those who use book tracking apps, I prepared an interview and survey guide with some open-ended questions before recruiting participants for the interview.

I decided to conduct a survey first and then asking users if they were willing to jump on a call in order to do some user interviews as well as a card sort exercise. I wanted to focus on understanding people's experiences with reading books and how they kept track of books. Overall the survey had 20 questions and the follow up interviews were questions about their experiences with certain apps they use.

• Research Types:
Survey, 1-1 Interviews, Card Sorting
• Age Groups: (18-24), (25-34), (35-44), (45-54), (55-64), (65+)
• Total Participants: 20 participants (3 of the participants were used for user interviews and card sorting.)

Key Takeaways & Trends

Through the research process I created, I’ve been able to identify some specific motivations and pain points that bring insights into the mind of readers.

  • Most participants read 5+ books a year
  • Recommendations from friends/family is the most important factor when deciding what to read
  • Participants prefer to read physical books over e-books or audiobooks
  • Most of the participants use Goodreads
  • Participants like to keep track of the books they read or want to read
  • Participants tend to NOT set reading goals. (Gamification Feature)
  • Participants do not like to rate/review books.

Read Full Interview Results & Analysis

The survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey and 20 participants were able to complete it. The survey included 20 questions and focused on understanding people's experiences with reading books and keeping track of books.


User Interview & Card Sorting

After the surveys were conducted, I was able to conduct 3 user interviews over the phone with participants from the survey. The participants were asked additional follow-up questions about their past experiences with the apps they use on a regular basis (e.g. Goodreads). 

Participants were also asked to do an open card sorting exercise through OptimalSort. The cards sorted were a combination of keywords, sections, and categories from Goodreads & direct/indirect competitors. Insights from this study will be used to help design information architecture for the app.

The Similarity Matrix helped identify strong card pairings and potential groupings on a quick view. For each pair of cards, the intersecting cell shows the percentage of participants who grouped these cards together. The greater the score means the greater the pairing potential.

Key Findings

  • Participants showed that they are used to the patterns of having a “Home” and some type of “Explore” option. 
  • Participants expect to see their friends and social features under their “Profile” page.

Persona Development

After gathering the key findings from the research phase, I conceptualized a persona that would represent my ideal user’s goals and needs.


2. Define

Business & User Goals

Once the research phase was completed, I stepped into define phase with all of the data from primary and secondary research. The objective was to analyze and synthesize business goals along with user goals in order to asses which ideas would best suit for the needs for both.


Feature Roadmap

With the project goals in focus, I created a product feature roadmap, with features presented in order of priority in terms of development, investment, and order of importance to business and user goals.


4. Prototype

Using Figma, I started to create an interactive prototype that would give users scrolling ability throughout the app to navigate and to complete the tasks given. After outlining a testing plan consisting of three different tasks with a scenario each, I was ready to conduct testing.

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

Goals for Testing

• Test the overall quality and ease of navigation and evaluate how users interact with the app
• Identify areas where errors or frustrations occur
• Identify if the flows/navigation is successful

Tasks To Complete

• Freely navigate the app
• Find a specific book manually or using a scanner
• Reserve a book from local library
• Add a specific book to “Want to Read”

5. Test & Iterations

I conducted  an online moderated usability test with 5 participants. 2 of the participants read an average of 40+ books a year while the other read between 5-10 books a year. Getting these designs without brand in the hands of some potential users as soon as possible could ensure that the experience will be shaped and refined to truly meet customer needs and expectations.

Key Findings

100%

of participants found the app easy to use and intuitive.

100%

overall completion rate of tasks without any errors.

40%

of participants like the feature of being able to track their reading

Social Features

Participants pointed out that the app could have more social features between friends

Future Possible Features

Friends & Celebrities Recommendations

•  Friends' top 5 books

Ability to add libraries from other cities/states

Users that read 40+ books a year would like to see statistics on their reading habits.

Affinity Map

I created an affinity map based on feedback, observations, and notes from usability testing. I wanted to visually compile and synthesize the findings from each participant in one place showcasing the insights and results at specific screens of the app. I also added a section with the main takeaways from testing as well as the key iterations needed to be made before moving into incorporating UI.

Key Changes To Make

Based on the insights gathered, I worked on design recommendations and implemented those changes into the mid-fidelity wireframes.

Branding & Logo Design

When focusing on building Booksio's visual identity, I began by first defining brand attributes that would help distinguish them from the competitors. The goal was to create a unique brand that met all the key values that are important for the company.

High Fidelity Wireframes

With the brand and UI Kit created, I decided to revisit my mid-fidelity wireframes and build high fidelity designs incoprporating those assets.

Final Prototype

Using Figma once again, I recreated the flow on the prototype so that users can easily scroll and navigate now with brand added.

Next Steps

Given more time, I would like to create and design more key screens that could be used for a second round of usability test. I would also revisit the product feature roadmap and see what other features could be built out that would provide a unique experience for Booksio's users. It was interesting to find that most of the participants felt like this app had the potential to act like a social media app. An app where users could interact with each other seamlessly and share their reading experiences. I would definitely love to go back and map out how those interactions might look like and then test them in order to build out a stronger app.

Project Takeaways

Lessons Learned

I will be honest and say that I'm not an avid reader like many of the users that I had the chance to interact with throughout the design process. Diving into an unfamiliar field was nerve-wracking since I found myself doubting if my research/findings were enough to justify what I was creating. I learned early on that it was okay not being an expert in a specific field as long as a clear goal was in place and I focused on understanding the user in every step of the way.

What I Would Have Done Differently

There were a couple of challenges that I faced when trying to find high quality participants. Studying participants online can be more accessible but I would've loved to have conducted interviews and usability testing with participants in person. One of the ways I would've done that is by going to local bookstores and libraries and finding willing participants. Having that feedback from total strangers would've have been valuable but unfortunately due to COVID-19 I wasn't able to.

Let's make something great!

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