An iOS app for book lovers that helps people track books they’ve read, books they want to read, and helps them discover new books they'll love.
This is a project I completed for Designlab’s UX Academy. This is not an existing app but the research is real and the design is based on actual user voices, in combination with mentor and fellow student feedback. I’m proud of this work, but I just wanted to be upfront with that. Okay, carry on now.
Bhuku has started collecting data on popular books and wants to create a mobile app. Inspired by Goodreads, Bhuku wants to give a more user-centric approach to their app, adding features and flows that make it delightful for people to use.
The goal is to determine how people keep track of books now and to design an iOS app centered around people’s needs and wants in this area. Good research was essential to for this project.
I started my research by understanding the problem I’m trying to solve. Organizing, tracking, and discovering books read and unread, can be challenging and is typically not something done in one place, using one product. And when it is, (e.g. Goodreads) the result can be confusing, messy, and complicated.
Not a lot of recent articles exist on this topic, so I looked into Bhuku’s competitors and browsed threads written by avid readers and users of similar apps on places like Reddit. I also conducted a competitive analysis of a few active products and came up with some quick provisional user personas based on the info I've found so far.
A user persona was developed to represent the user voices heard during the research phase. Referring back to this persona during the design process helps me stay aligned with user goals and remind me of the problems I need to solve for users.
Next, it was important to define how a user will interact with the app and how the app itself is laid out. What screens are the most important? What belongs in the tab bar? How is the information organized? What makes sense and is the most helpful to people using this app?
One challenge was helping a user add a book in as little taps as possible. My original idea was to have the user go to the Browse screen and use the search bar there or find a book in the Suggestions screen, but this would take too long if they already knew what they wanted. Also, books can be found all over the app and in different contexts: in suggestions, friends’ activity, browse and search results.
There needed to be a faster way to add a book and it needed to be consistent across the app.
A simple icon was included that will be present whenever a user adds a book, no matter the context. This will help with learnability (and this paid off later on, as you’ll see in the first task of the test phase).
Then I included a “quick add” feature that will always be easily accessed at the bottom of the screen at the center of the tab bar. People can immediately search for a book or author wherever they are in the app.
I created a low fidelity prototype using these wireframes and was able to have some users test it out. After receiving feedback and implementing some changes to the wireframes, I moved on to the design phase.
The goal with the Bhuku brand is to actually not draw attention to the brand itself, but rather emphasize the books people are reading and the voices people are using. Book covers, user profile photos, and user-generated content is at the forefront.
You've been using Bhuku, an iOS app, to keep track of books you've read and want to read. You just remembered about a book you've been wanting to read, “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami. Find the book and add it to your Want to Read list.
Being consistent with the design and placement of “add” buttons has positively impacted the design. It seems like there was very little friction between users and their goal of finding a book quickly and adding it to their library.
You just finished reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Mark it as “Read” and give it a rating.
Again, no issues were reported during testing of this task. Since the book the user is currently reading is at the top of the Home and Library screens, it's easy to find and quickly mark a book as “read.”
Your friend Lydia had suggested you read “Idaho” by Emily Ruskovich. Go to Lydia's profile, find her suggested books, and add “Idaho” to your Want to Read list.
Out of all three tasks, this one was the most difficult for users. The main pain point was simply finding Lydia's profile quickly and easily. This was partially a limitation of the prototype, since some users attempted to search for Lydia's name, but I hadn't built the prototype for that action yet (in reality users could, of course, search to find a friend's profile).
But even besides that limitation, people still struggled to find where the friends list was located. I have since placed the friends list at the top of the Activity section on the Home screen, to maximize visibility.