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Overview


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Overview


Tablet App Design

Amazon Book Club:
Creating a mobile social reading app for the Amazon family

 

Overview

Reading is a social activity. A person’s journey with a book doesn’t always begin when they see it at the store, and it rarely ends when they turn the last page. People love sharing their favorite books with friends, discussing elements of story, and getting suggestions on what to read next. People like connecting with each other, and books provide an opportunity for that.  My team and I saw a chance to capitalize on this opportunity by developing a book club app that would fit into the Amazon family.

my role

I worked hand in hand with a partner to analyze the eBook marketplace.  From there, I led the research phase.  Together, we wrote and conducted interviews, designed a UI that would fit seamlessly with Amazon's Kindle app, and created high fidelity mockups and prototype.

THE PROBLEM

Currently, Amazon.com is not seizing on the social opportunities reading provides. Though Amazon offers several services for its Kindle reading devices and app, it lacks one familiar and effective mechanism for people to connect over books: a book club.

THE OPPORTUNITY

Amazon Book Club is an iPad app that aims to fill this gap. Its basic premise is to provide users the same experience they get in a physical book club, but virtually.

 
 
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Research


Research


Comparative & User RESEARCH

 

my role

My partner and I conducted a contextual inquiry together.  I led the feature comparison and technical constraints portions  of our comparative analysis.  We then wrote and administered the survey and user interviews as a team

Key Takeaways

  • Took note of how our offering could better reflect a longstanding tradition
  • Determined how people accomplish similar tasks in other digital offerings
  • Metric understanding of demographic trends involving Book Club users
  • Design opportunities tied directly to user feedback
  • Distinct user-case personas

THE TOOLS

  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Comparative market analysis
  • Feature Comparison
  • Screener Survey (89 respondents)
  • 7 Scripted Interviews
  • Affinity Mapping
  • User Personas
  • Card Sort
  • MOSCOW feature Prioritization
 

COMPARATIVE RESEARCH

Contextual Inquiry: 

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Our first step was to visit a real book club in New York City, where we saw how a physical book club operates. Eventually, we’d come to digitize some of the ideas we learned that day.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Conversation is fast paced and overlapping: video conferencing
  • Community is a huge element of book clubs: social media opportunity
  • People share notes and reference them during meetings: API/Plugin
 

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Feature Comparison: 

We compiled a vast list of features from across a broad spectrum to see where these different offerings might have some crossover, and where unique features could prove difficult to loop in.  This Venn Diagram is a portion of the competitors we included in our analysis.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Other apps utilize graphics, text bubbles, and color labels to identify commentary from various users
  • Tasks from other apps—such as video conferencing) generally consume the entire screen rather than share space
  • Amazon’s existing Kindle offering encompass many of the data points users already like to reference: excellence source and simple integration
  • This app would encompass many tasks from various other apps: essential to prioritize features

      

 

user research

User Interviews

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Taking the responses from our survey, we contacted seven participants to take part in user interviews. Using a script, we asked participants a series of nine questions to find out more about users’ pains, pleasures, behaviors, and context of use

 

Affinity mapping

These questions elicited a wide variety of responses, which we organized using an affinity map (breaking feedback down into behaviors, pains, pleasures, and contexts). We then further categorized the responses into themes, and identified opportunities for each theme.

 

USER PERSONAS

Using the data from the interviews, we had a clear way of assessing the value of the features we had chosen, and see some opportunities for new features. We combined feedback from interviews, surveys, and our contextual inquiry, into two user personas

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Our Primary Persona, Albert Friendly, represented 70% of the respondents to our survey and the same proportion of our interviews.  He values book clubs for their intellectual merit, and the fact that they give him an opportunity to read more and connect with his friends over interesting subject matter.  In his use-case, Albert would utilize such features as note taking and sharing, file uploading, and calendar integration.  

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Our Secondary Persona, Samantha Wallace, thinks of book clubs more as social exercises.  She doesn't see her friends often enough, and a book club is a perfect reason to jump into a video chat, have a glass of wine, and catch up.  For her, the video feature is the most important.  She may be less interested in taking copious notes, but she enjoys seeing what other people think about each week's reading, especially as it tends to serve as cliff notes.

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Sketching and Wireframing


Sketching and Wireframing


Sketching & Wireframing

After identifying our primary use-cases, we began ideating on our design opportunities.  Sketching our ideas, we found our main challenge was to to maintain simplicity and cleanliness in our design, but also provide access to features from the screens they pertained to.  A card sort helped us structure our app in a way that made sense to users.  The scope of the app, however, was still large.

my role

My teammate and I ideated based on the design opportunities from our research.  I started with pen and paper sketches, eventually moving to higher fidelity mockups using Sketch, which we then put into a clickable prototype.

THE Tools

  • Lo-fi pen and paper sketches
  • Mid-fi sketches in Sketch App
  • Hi-Fi Mockups into prototypes  

Key Takeaways

  • Consistency with Amazon style guide proved key to user comprehension: reducing UI clutter helped focus on content.
  • It was obvious users could switch between main functions of the app: placed all main functions in tab bar with only one side nav needed (group page).  This let the content take center stage.
  • Separating main actions into tabs allowed for clearer understanding of the apps capabilities, as it didn't blur the tasks together.  Users could use one or all tasks independently.
 
 

User Flows

User flow for making a note

User flow for making a note

 
 
User flow for entering a group

User flow for entering a group

 

Low Fidelity WIREFRAMES WIth Annotations

High Fidelity Mockups after Testing and Feedback

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Prototyping Testing


Prototyping Testing


Prototyping & Testing

Using low fidelity wireframes, we created our first prototpye in InVision, and performed some user tests. As our app utilizes primarily tap-based controls, interactivity with the interface wasn’t essential to our users’ understanding, but we were able to ascertain whether the design of our app and the placement of our features was intuitive.

my role

I synthesized user test feedback and iterated on the design.  I also created prototypes in Invision and Principle.

THE tools

  • Invision
  • Principle

Key findings

  • It was unclear to users how they would arrive in clubs, create clubs, or edit club book lists: we created the screens for these flows.
  • Users were confused by too much information on each page, so we separated major tasks into a tab bar at the bottom.
  • Users remarked that they wouldn't always want to connect via video: created audio only option
 

A book club app is a complex machine. There are many moving parts, some of which have to source data from other devices, apps, and databases within the app itself. Our MVP is only a first step in what could become a fully functional reading platform on a level with the Kindle and iBooks: a true go-to reader. The plans are laid, it’s a matter of fleshing them out.

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