The Book Exchange Club
The Book Exchange Club (BEC) is an app dedicated to book lovers who just do not have the space to store their books. Users of the app can expect to explore a wide range of books, read and reviewed by other users, and exchange books with them. To do this, they simply download the app, create a profile, upload the books they want to explore and exchange books with other book reading lovers!
May 30th, 2022 to June 6th, 2022
To understand the problem, lets looks at one of our users, Jafar:
Jafar is a paper-book-reading lover, who needs to find a way to get more books to read without having to store them because he’s read so many books in the past, that he does not have space to store them any more.
The Book Exchange App is designed for users who love reading books of any genre, to exchange books via the app.
It allows users to explore books that they have never read, and exchange them with books that they have. To measure the effectiveness of the app, we will measure the number of book exchanges made via the app.
When developing BEC, my roles included:
My responsibilities included: conducting user research (foundational research and design research), conducted usuabilitiy studies, developing wireframes, designing prototypes (lo-fi and hi-fi), measure accessibility, and iterating designs.
Understanding The User
Before developing BEC as we see it today, the initial aim of the app was to connect people with their local books stores to see the books they have available. However, when conducting our foundational research, we found that there are no need for users to their local store, but rather connect users to other users to exchange books they already had. This would: decrease the costs when wanting to read a new book, and also saves space for users as their collections have been building up of the years.
I then conducted interviews and created empathy maps in order to understand users to be able to design an app that’ll suit their needs. The sample of users for the research were 10 individuals ages 18 - 45 years old, 2 of which required assistive technologies (ATs).
The research results echoed the same pain points as our foundational research did. These pain points included: individuals were running out of storage space, and they wanted to read new books but could not afford the costs.
Participants have been reading books for years and as the years go on, their book collections grew. Now, they are sitting with a large collection of books they will likely not read again and cannot get more new books to read, and they fear they cannot store it.
The costs for new books are high. Although our participants would enjoy reading new books as they become available, they cannot.
Participants would’ve liked to speak to other people in the same position as they are, but had no way to reach people similar to them that are nearby.
Jafar is a paper-book-reading fan who needs a platform on which he can safely exchange books he has read with because he wants to read because he cannot simple buy new books as they are costly and he has no space to store them safely.
Mapping Jafar’s user journey (seen on the right), we designed a simple process of:
1. Creating a profile.
2. Explore books that interest you.
3. Communicate with the owner of the book.
The home screen was designed to display the various options available to the users, while creating a search bar for the user’s convenience, and a carousel for recommended books
After the paper wireframes, I decided to go ahead with the design that would include a long list that displays as many books as possible on the home page with the star-rating given by the owner; as well as a search bar (based on UTAs).
Low Fidelity Designs
I then created a low-fidelity prototype. The correct user flow was: Create A Profile > Browse Collection > View Book Description > Chat To Owner > Confirmation Page
View the lofi prototype here.
Two round of usability studies were conducted with 5 participants per study. Of the 5, all participants managed to complete the user journey successfully using the wireframes, but pains point were found when speaking to the owner, and scrolling on the home page.
During the second round of usability studies, 5 out of the 5 participants managed to complete the user journey, but pain points were found with the search feature, and again the chat feature.
Round 1 Findings:
Users wanted voice-to-text feature added when chatting to the owner.
Users wanted the rating to be more visible on the home page.
Users wanted to create profiles using avatars.
Round 2 Findings:
Users were confused by what happens after they chat to the owner.
Users wanted auto-generated/suggested text when speaking to the owner.
Before & After
Before Usability testing
After Usability testing
When originally designing the search feature, users were only allowed to search to a book by name or by genre. After the usability study, users could now search for books based on name, genre, topic, rating, and language.
When originally designing the home page, I wanted to display as many books as possible. But users thought it would be difficult reading the descriptions. After the usability study, the books are now displayed in a list to make the design more legible.
Before Usability testing
After Usability testing
Create a Profile
Accessibly consideration 1
The chat feature includes a voice-to-text feature to accommodate users with mobility disabilities. Whether it is permanent, temporary r situational, users can send texts more easily.
Accessibly consideration 2
The icons used within the app are able to guide people across the app and improves navigation.
Accessibly consideration 3
The primary colors’ ratio chosen for the app were first tested on WEBAIM to accommodate users who are sensitive to light.
The app allows for book reading lovers to continue their hobbies and not stress about the logistics of reading a new book.
One quote from peer feedback:
“I think this app will work brilliantly on the market because people still love reading paper books - I think most companies simply forgot this fact”.
What I Learnt
Designing an app is not simply a pick-up and go process. While conducting the research needed to design the app, I spoke to users that opened my mind to a different perspective, which ultimately made the app even better. Each process of UX should be respected and done vigilantly, rushing to jump on the first idea is not a good idea.
Firstly, improve the auto-generated/suggested text feature on the chat screen to accommodate for mobility disabled users further. This feature will be useful to not only disabled users, but everyone will benefit.
Secondly, I would research all the national languages in South Africa, to include in the search filter. Also, allow the app to be translated to each of those languages to accommodate for more users.
Lastly, partner with schools and universities.
I would essentially like to keep of stock of educational textbooks and resources for users who cannot afford to purchase those type of books first-hand.