If you could carry an entire library of books in your pocket, which books would you choose?
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
Research, UX / UI Design, IA, Visual Design
Sketch, InVision, & Illustrator
Self-directed with feedback from mentors and peers
4 weeks - 20 hours per week
Develop the app’s structure and flow using wireframes & user flows
Determine the overall look and direction of Bhuku’s branding
Design an app that allows users to catalogue and save books
How do people decide and choose what books they read? How do they keep track of books they’ve read (if at all)? In order 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:
Finding interesting books can feel overwhelming as there are countless books to choose from, and so many different ways to discover new books.
Everyone organizes their books differently, and many who do so feel that categorizing books takes up too much of their time and effort.
With the research done and the users’ pain points understood, I decided to map out how Bhuku’s app could help users decide what to read next, along with a way to help them organize collections of books. I created two user flows that documented the choices and decisions users might need to make while using the app.
Once I had a bit of the app’s functionality mapped out, it was time 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!
After getting a better idea of how things were laid out, I decided to 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 Many competitor book apps (such as Goodreads) have outdated UI that feels frustrating to use for some users, as people mentioned during the survey and interviews I conducted.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 tile I created to define how the elements in the app would look:
Once I applied the elements from my style guide to my wireframes, I decided to test the UI. It would be useful to be able to identify if there were any areas or things that were confusing to users.
I created this initial prototype using InVision. Then I ran usability tests with 7 participants, who were asked to complete 3 different scenarios. Their first task was to find and learn more about a book that seemed interesting. Their second task involved saving a book to remember for later. In the third task, participants were asked to create a new bookshelf.
One thing participants especially liked about the app was the overall design—which they found appealing.
However, there were a few factors causing confusion - as detailed below.
Original Design with Icons:
Revised Design with Labels Added:
In the nav bars below, the app is dividded into five different parts: home, catalgue, bookshelf, goals, and profile. Participants involved in the usability tests didn’t understand what the difference was between “Catalogue” and “Bookshelf” was. Many found the use of the word “bookshelf” confusing and thought “library” would be better. Another thing people didn’t understand was the function of the home screen - which was to give personalized suggestions to users.
The first thing I did was rearrange the nav bar & restructure things a bit. I changed the home screen to be the catalogue screen (which basically acts as a database of books where users can search for, filter by genre, and see newly added books). I then took the home screen and changed that to take the place of where the catalogue was - and renamed the home screen “Suggested” - so users would understand that that screen would give them custom book suggestions.
The other thing that I did was add 3 onboarding screens to explain how the app worked.
I also built screens where users could pick out genres they were interested in after onboarding in order to get suggestions that were tailored to their preferences.
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 test my designs again, 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!