Case Study:
Designing an eBook Library

Background

In my role at Kobo, an eBook company, we wanted to drastically improve our library experience. The existing library was on a legacy system, with a lot of usability issues, and a generally poor experience.

My role: I was the UX Design Lead, working with a Product Manager, a Visual Designer and a team of Engineers. As this feature was at the core of an eBook company, there were also a lot of stakeholders from across the business.

Year: 2015

Talking to customers

Before starting any design, we looked at our data, talked to internal stakeholders, and interviewed customers in person. The majority of our users only had a couple of books in their library. But we also had many power users with 10-15,000 books.

A business opportunity

In addition to improving the book management experience, I saw an opportunity to drive sales. Users often downloaded a free preview of books. With the right design, we could convert previews to paid books.

Early stage sketching. Early stage sketching

Designing for both extremes

If most of our users only have a few books, we don’t want them to see a bare page. Instead, we wanted to create a rich experience, that re-creates the pride of a real book shelf. For our power users, they were often more interested in scanning & finding books. I designed a condensed list view that shows more metadata, and no images.

List and grid view. A list and a grid view available to all users. The site remembers your preference for future use. (wireframe)

Reading list

A new concept a the company. I designed an experience that allowed users to create a sequential list of books to read. This helped users remove the friction of finding their next book.

Easily find books

One of the primary goals was to make books easier to find. I designed a tool to refine items in your library, by genre, series and author. Adding a search also gave users easy access to books.

Converting free to paid users

Often converting the a new user to be a paying user is the hardest step. I designed an empty state, that offered them a discount on their first book. This is much more satisfying than see a message that says ‘there are no books in your library’.

Reading stats Incentive to new users (wireframe)

Sharing Insights & data with users

When collecting data, it’s often hard to know what is useful to users, and what is just noise. We showed users their reading history stats, in a fun way that gave a sense of accomplishment. This is turn can act as an incentive to read more, which many people aspire to do.

Reading stats Showing users their reading stats (wireframe)

Shipped design

When collecting data, it’s often hard to know what is useful to users, and what is just noise. We showed users their reading history stats, in a fun way that gave a sense of accomplishment. This is turn can act as an incentive to read more, which many people aspire to do.

Shipped design, grid view Shipped design, list view, mobile Fully responsive, and shipped design.

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