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


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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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
  • This app would encompass many tasks from various other apps: essential to prioritize features



user research

User Interviews


Taking the responses from our survey, we contacted seven participants to take part in user interviews. Using a script, we asked participants nine questions to find out more about their 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.



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.