Art Director & UX Designer
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The Brooklyn Public Library app

Redesign of the Brooklyn Public Library app

After seeing the issue that users could not look for a book, I wanted to rebuild the app using a user centered approach where we could achieve users main goal.
 

Roles

User Researcher
I led the user interviews, the usability testings, the competitive analysis, the card sorting and the feature prioritization.

User Experience Designer
I synthesized all the research to create user goals, user flows and personas which led to the creation of low-fi to high-fi prototypes.

Visual Designer
I created a new set of icons and I selected the colors and fonts respecting both the BPLY brand guidelines and the feedback from the usability testings.

Methods

Research
Usability testing
Interviews
Competitive analysis
Personas
Card sorting
Affinity mapping
Feature prioritization

Design & Prototype
Users flows
Low-fi paper prototypes
Mid-fidelity wireframes
High-fidelity mockups
Clickable prototype

Tools

Research tools
Optimal Workshop
Xtensio

Design & Prototype tools
Sketch
InVision
Balsamic
Photoshop
After Effects

People

Users
BPLY app users
BPLY app potential users

Focus groups with experts
Product Designers
Software Engineers
Data Analyst
Creative Director

Being an avid user of the Library, I felt that the app was dysfunctional and not giving the ability to users to do what I thought they would like to do.
— assumption
 

User research

User Interviews findings

User goals are:

  • Find a book and check it out

  • Read an ebook in the app

User motivations are:

  • Library books are free

  • Ebooks are easy to read in the subway

  • Using the app is faster than to go to the Library.

 

Usability Testing

App tested on both actual users and potential users (people who live in Brooklyn and read):

  • Can’t read ebooks within the app

  • Many links to externals websites or products

  • No mistakes allowed, searching is not intuitive (when you type you do not get suggested results)  

  • Can’t search from the home page

  • Crowded and confusing

  • Outdated and too bright

 

Competitive Analysis

Exploratory Analysis

Studying a few other apps led to 3 really important findings:

  • Search is always on home page/navigation

  • Search is intuitive and gives suggested results.

  • There is a clear call to action to buy or check-out

 
All the apps studied had a search function on their homepage or in the navigation bar. This finding reinforced what we initially found doing usability testing on the current app.
— competitive research
 

User Personas

Persona 1 - goals:

  • Look, find, reserve and check-out a book quickly and easily

  • Read an ebook

Persona 2 - goals:

  • Managing easily borrowing books for several users

  • Be able to use the BPLY digital products even being a non tech savvy person

Look, find, reserve and check-out a book quickly and easily.
— main user goal
 
 

Main user goal: user flow

Because of the time constraint, I decided to focus on the flow of the main goal and build the process from there.

 

Paper prototypes & usability testing

 

Findings

  • Confusion between book type and book category

  • Confusion between my card and check-out

  • Catalog and browse books should be the same item

  • Confusion between get it, place a hold and check-out

  • Need for more categories in the catalog

  • Users expect books recommendations

“I think ‘catalog’ and ‘browse books’ should be the same item.”
— user during usability testing
 

Feature prioritization

Card sorting & Navigation map

I led a card sorting to figure out the navigation and what to prioritize on the home page which I crossed with a feature prioritization.

I finally got to a final navigation/site map with the 3 main features needed on the home page:

  • Search

  • My Account

  • Catalog

 

Making the BPLY app a simple experience for people to borrow books, read more and enjoy a free cultural public service.
— project proposal
 

Wireframes


Advanced usability testing

 

Usability testing findings

  • Book type is too small on book page

  • What about if they are more than 3 book types?

  • It’s unclear what kind of book you are Borrowing

  • No one can find how to look for a book in another Language

  • No one noticed the book types at the top of the catalog page

 

Visual Design

 

High fidelity prototype

 
 
The main problem was solved since a search function was added to the navigation and users are now able to look for a book quickly.

To be improved

  • Improve onboarding process, specially for non tech savvy users

  • Improve the sign up process

  • Improve the possibility to use the app when not having a library card yet


Next steps

  • Adding buttons on each book for a quick check-out

  • Designing My BPLY page

  • Instoring a better check-out process with physical books with the app when at the Library

  • Adding an ebook/audiobook reader

What I learned

  • The most simple/basic feature can be the hardest to implement

  • Every piece of research brings answers and feedback, there is almost never too much research

Takeaways

  • Being empathic to the users needs and not acting from a place of “I want, I think” is key to a clever process

  • Visual design is not only being “pretty” or “trendy” or “in brand”, it is a way to give the user the ability to reach his/her goal as easily as possible