Bhuku: an App for Book Lovers

If you could carry an entire library of books in your pocket, which books would you choose?

Project Brief

Bhuku is an app for book lovers that helps users track everything they own, books they have read, what they will read next, and also everything they have enjoyed reading so far. Bhuku makes recommendations and suggestions that are personalized for each user based on their preferences.

View Prototype

Objectives

Logo Design

Create a logo and app icon design for Bhuku from scratch

Visual Identity

Determine the overall look and direction of Bhuku’s branding

App UI Design

Design an app that allows users to catalogue & save books

User Research

How do people decide and choose what books they read? How do they keep track of books they’ve read (if at all)? To learn more about peoples’ reading habits and preferences, I conducted a Typeform survey along with 1:1 interviews with 14 participants, all of whom were avid book readers. The pain points I discovered are as followed:

Deciding What to Read Next is Difficult

Finding interesting books can feel overwhelming as there are countless books to choose from, and so many different ways to discover new books.

Categorizing Books Is Time-Consuming

Everyone organizes their books differently, and many who do so feel that categorizing books takes up too much of their time and effort.

Deciding What to Read Next is Difficult

Finding interesting books can feel overwhelming as there are countless books to choose from, and so many different ways to discover new books.

Categorizing Books Is Time-Consuming

Everyone organizes their books differently, and many who do so feel that categorizing books takes up too much of their time and effort.

Research Methods & Takeaways

In order to learn more about Bhuku’s users, the industry, and reading app design, we created and did a number of things to guide our research efforts, including:

What We Learned

Logo and App Icon Design

With the popularity of apps for readers, Bhuku knew it was entering a crowded space. Their brand would need to stand out while at the same time feeling friendly, inviting, and accessible to readers of all ages.

Bhuku, being a Zimbabwean company, also wanted to create an identity that would reflect their nationality. We decided to feature the Zimbabwe bird in the logo mark, which is Zimbabwe’s national emblem, and created an app icon as well.

Creating an Appealing & Friendly Brand

After designing Bhuku’s logo, it was time too focus on Bhuku’s visual design. Many competitor book apps (such as Goodreads) have outdated UI that feels frustrating to use for some users, as people mentioned during the survey and interviews I conducted. 

It felt especially important to create an aesthetic that was playful, visually appealing, and friendly. Below is the style guide I created to define how the elements in the app would look:

In order to get a rough idea of how things would be laid out, I decided to start sketching and exploring all of the different ideas I had for some of the screens!

Visual Design

We wanted to create an app that was easy to use in order to help users find new and interesting books - so we opted to let book covers, titles, and ratings take front and center stage.

The idea was to create an app with a welcoming visual language  - inviting users to browse for books at their leisure. We also used bright bold colors, soft curves, and organic shapes to create a playful and fun feeling. 

Summary & Takeaways

One of the most challenging aspects of this project was the information architecture—there are countless numbers of books in the world, with new books being published every day. Figuring out how to let users sort books (and there are so many ways - whether it be by genre, author, popularity, date published, etc) was another challenge I grappled with.

If I had more time, I’d re-test the protoype, and continue improving on the features that make Bhuku’s app not only useful and accessible but fun to use and also helpful regarding book suggestions and figuring out what to read next!

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