Kindle Book Club Feature

Shared experiences for book lovers despite the distance, the Book Club is an added feature for the Amazon Kindle app that allows up to 4 users to share annotations.

Overview: UX Academy Student Project

Role: UX Researcher, UX and UI Designer

Software: Figma, Maze

Product: Mobile Design

Timeline: 3 Weeks

Clickable Prototype

Background

Project Brief · Business Goal

Online games like Jackbox and virtual dance parties like Steezy Studio have risen in popularity because of COVID19. Kindle Book Club Feature is an add-in feature that taps into the same idea of virtual closeness.

Project Brief
Because of COID, people are encouraged to social distance and find new activities. Likewise, people may not see loved ones because of travel restrictions. The main focus of this project is to add a feature to the Kindle Reading app that will enhance the reading experience by allowing two to four users to virtually share the book and allow the users to leave annotations, drawings, or voice recordings. This feature is preferred on the mobile and tablet, but will also be available for the web app.

Business Goal
Recruit new users to download the Amazon Kindle App who are invited to the virtual book club.

High-Level Goals
1. Add a feature where up to 4 users can share a book
2. Build the feature that allows annotations, drawing, and voice recording capabilities
3. Create the user experience and UI patterns that is similar to other platforms that have a sharing and recording capability
4. Create for the Android phone

Problem Statement

Market Research · User Interviews · Persona

How can Kindle allow readers to virtually share a book together, share thoughts about the book they are reading, and create virtual book clubs?

1. Understand

To understand the problem statement more, first I focused on research the market of what is currently available to users in terms of reading applications and understanding users' reading habits.

Market Research
For the market research, I focused on companies that offer both an e-reader and a mobile application where users can toggle between the two. Although this is an add-in feature to the e-reader and mobile application, it was important to research components including the e-reader, desktop, tablet or the mobile application to understand all of the different interfaces that a user may experience and choose.

Direct Competitors:

Indirect Competitors:

Findings:

  • Amazon Kindle remains the top competitors compared to Kobo and Nook because of the availability of books and competitively priced books. Kindle is also the only application where users can sync to their Goodreads account.
  • All direct competitors have a free reading app for mobile devices.
  • In terms of annotation, all competitors has some sort of annotation feature with customization but no sharing capability.
  • The extent of Amazon Kindle’s sharing capability is lending a book up to 2 weeks, share book recommendations, and exporting notes externally.
  • For the indirect competitors, users may want to buy a physical book or check out an electronic book from their local libraries.

From the market research, I learned that the Kindle is a highly desirable product with high value, but there is currently no sharing annotation capability even there is already a built-in annotation feature. Thus, I conducted a customer interview and a survey to assess if there are any interest in this add-in feature.

Primary Research
For the customer interviews, I looked into: 1) what users need when they are using a digital reading application, 2) how do users use the reading application, 3) do users have any frustrations or favorites with the usability of the application, and 4) what is desires if a sharing capability does exist?

Customer Interviews

"It's also really important to me because when I travel, I want to be able to switch back and forth between a lot of different book." Suzie, Missouri, Pharmacy Student 27

"Annotation in general is underrated. It's something even at my company that annoys me that we don't do because there's a historical institutional knowledge built around certain documents, but they keep all the documents clean." Peter, Washington, DC, Proposal Writer, 29

"I go through periods where I don't use it for a while and then I forget how to use it and then I have to reteach myself." Jacquelyne, California, Youth Advocate Against Drugs, 25

"I love that the different highlighting options that you can use and it's not just one particular color. And it's really easy to highlight." Joy, California, Teacher 30

Survey

35% of participants use the e-reader everyday, 25% use it sometimes, and 20% rarely use the e-reader.
57.1% of participants say they have never wanted to share highlights or notes with someone else on the e-reader.
65% of participants do not highlight or take notes on the e-reader.
80% of participants were satisfied with the e-reader.

Findings:

  • Users are using a variety of screen interfaces to complete their reading, either solely on the e-reader, the mobile application, or switching between the two. The desktop screensize was used more for studying.
  • The top reason why users use their e-reader is the convenience of carrying many books in one device and the instant download.
  • The main frustrations were the delay on the e-reader, the screen size being too small, and accidentally pressing something.
  • There was no high desire for a sharing capability because reading is a private and personal activity. Users may have interpreted the add-in feature in a different way than what I have imagined. Thus it is important to make it clear that users will be able to keep their own notes separate.
  • Likewise, the add-in feature may be the case where the feature comes first and then the culture of annotation comes second. Because the interest of the annotation feature are 42.9% of the survey participants and 40% of the interview participants, this still represents a considerable portion of the Amazon Kindle users.

Learnings and Summary:

  • From the market research, the popularity of Kindle gives insight into its high value with its comprehensive library and affordability, even if all the other competitors offer an annotation component. Additionally, no other direct competitor has a sharing annotation capability. I conducted interviews and a survey to assess the desirability of a virtual book club with a sharing annotation feature.
  • From this primary research, there was no high desire for a sharing capability because reading is a private and personal activity. This gives insight into how users may have interpreted the add-in feature in a way that doesn't keep their personal annotations private. Thus it is important to make it clear that users will be able to keep their own notes separate.

Defining the UX Strategy

Persona · Card Sorting · Product Roadmap · Task Flow

After having a good understanding of the problem, next I will think about the users who will use the add-in feature, how the feature will fit into the existing architecture, and the user task.

2. Define

After understanding the market and the potential users, I next focus on UX Strategy by creating the persona, sitemap, and task flow.

Meet Booklover Bonnie
After I learned more about how users are reading digitally, I created the persona, Booklover Bonnie to embody the primary user. She is a young professional who enjoys reading as a form of self-care. She juggles different books from fantasy to professional development to mystery thrillers. She has an informal book club with her two brothers via a group text. .

Figuring out where to insert the add-in feature
Since this project focuses on adding in a feature, I looked at the existing information architecture to figure out where is the best location for the virtual book club feature to ensure turning on the add-in feature and using the feature is intuitive with the existing navigational structure.

Sitemap:

  • There's a limited number of pages that the user can go to when they have a book open: [1] settings and [2] notebook
  • "Group Messages" was later created to solve the problem of consolidating annotation messages and to reduce the number of steps to leave an annotations.
  • From the user research, I also had to consider that users prefer having the annotations for private view so it was important to reserve the existing "Annotation Archive" under "My Notebook" for personal annotations while having the "Group Messages" pages for shared annotations.

Steps that Booklover Bonnie will take to leave an annotationAfter having a better idea of where the add-in feature will be nestled under the existing navigational structure, I brainstormed a task flow to get a better idea of how the persona, Booklover Bonnie, will experience the application.

Task Flow:

  • Here the task flow is for Bonnie to turn on the virtual book club feature, to open an annotation, and leave an annotation.
  • It was important to emphasize that the user shouldn't have to stray away to another page to leave an annotation.
  • For the user task, it is important for the user to intuitively leave an annotation while continue reading and using the application as how they have down before in the past.

Learnings and Summary:

  • From the sitemap, I ensured that the new add-in feature will be intuitive by nestling it under the appropriate existing pages and only creating new pages if necessary. Later on, I created a separate page for the "Group Messages."
  • From the user task it was important that the user does not get bombarded with notifications of using the virtual book club but for the add-in feature to seamlessly added using modals if the user wishes to use it.

Designing based on UX Strategy

Low Fidelity Wireframes · Mid-Fidelity Wireframes · Sitemap

After getting a better idea of the persona, how the add-in feature will exist with the existing app, and the flow of the persona, next I will start creating wireframes.

3. Iterations

With the persona and how the information architecture will be organized, next I think about layouts and interactions that will exist within the virtual book club.

Low Fidelity Wireframes
Next, I explored layout patterns for my low-fidelity wireframes by first taking screenshots of the current Amazon Kindle Mobile App and making iterations of the layout. I looked at mobile design patterns for article layout, voice recording, audio playback, drawing, group and invite pattern, response feed, and share to borrow ideas.

Mid-fi Wireframes
After exploring different layout patterns, I focused on details and gesture interactions by creating the mid-fidelity wireframes. Pre-existing gestures that I had to consider were: 1) pressing down on the screen to add a highlight or note, 2) double tap to access the menu. For my mid-fidelity wireframes, I mimic similar annotation display that one would make on a physical book to allow the user to immediately understand the meaning of this new add-in feature.

Learnings and Summary:

  • I explored low-fidelity and middle-fidelity wireframes while considering the existing layout design and gestures to interact.
  • After looking at mobile design patterns for inspiration and iterating, the results look similar to what one would see on a physical book that includes annotations.

Staying on brand

Logo Design · UI Kit

After exploring potential layout and design patterns from my low-fidelity and middle-fidelity wireframes, next I will look at the existing UI kit to ensure the add-in feature stays on brand.

4. UI

Next in the process, I create the UI kit to help review whether all the add-in icons are on brand with the Amazon Kindle.

Creating icons that stay on brand
I took inventory of Amazon Kindle's existing UI to guide the UI designs of the add-in feature.

Logo Iterations

Learnings and Summary:

  • I created a UI kit to ensure the colors, font size, and icons stay on brand with the existing Amazon Kindle UI.

Preparing for the usability test

Prototyping

After solidifying the UI design guidelines to follow, next I will iterate for the high-fidelity wireframes that I will use for the usability test.

5. Prototype

High-Fi Wireframes for the Usability Test
After finalizing the style tile, I iterated and prepared high-fi wireframe for the usability test to validate the designs of the add-in feature. I prepared frames for 3 different tasks: 1) turn on the virtual book club through the settings, 2) interact with the annotations, and 3) leave an annotation with the option of using voice recording, notes, and drawing.

Task 1: Go through the pages as if you are in a virtual book club with two of your closet family members or friends. On the second page, turn on the Kindle Share feature and find the settings menu.

Task 2: Interact with an annotation

Task 3: Leave an annotation on the last page (location 399). Option for notes, drawing, and voice recording.

Learnings and Summary:

  • I prepared high-fidelity wireframes for 2 tasks: 1) turning on the add-in feature and 2) leaving an annotation.
  • For these wireframes, I made the assumption that the user would want the option to leave a written annotation, voice recording, or drawing based on from design patterns from popular text messaging applications like Instagram and Whatsapp.
  • Later in the user testing, I will also see if users only prefer a certain annotation option as well as if there is an interest with the sharing annotation capability once users can visualize the feature since my primary research reported that there were no interest.

Test, test, test!

Usability Test · Affinity Map · Priority Revisions

In the next process, I will test my high-fidelity wireframes to determine the usability, desirability, value, and adoptability.

6. Validate

During my user research, there was low interest for a sharing capability on the Kindle. This usability test will not only test the usability but it will assess whether the participants have any desire with the add-in feature, if they find it valuable, and if they find it intuitive to learn.

Validating designs through a user test
Next I use the software Maze to conduct a usability testing to see whether users can intuitively turn on the add-in feature interact with an annotation, and leave an annotation with the current designs.

Affinity Map

Findings:

  • There was high interest of the add-in feature which may mean users need to visually see the feature. Users mainly chose note or highlights.
  • Pain point 1: Creating annotations may be difficult on the mobile phone.
  • Pain point 2: Finding the menu to turn on the Book Club feature was not intuitive.
  • This may be the result of the test takers not being regular Amazon Kindle mobile users or have not used it a few times in the past. There were no revisions to be made from this since this may be a research suggestion for Amazon Kindle to review its current usability performance for finding the menu.
  • Pain point 3: It took the user many steps to leave an annotation.

Because pain point 1 and pain point 2 relate more to Amazon Kindle's set of existing gestures and navigational information architecture, I had less control of fixing these issues. Instead I focused on pain point 3. For my priority revision, I made it easier to use the add-in feature by reducing the number of steps to leave leave an interaction.

Priority Revisions: Reduce the number of steps to leave an annotation
Before, if the user wants to leave an annotation, they would first use hand gestures to highlight, click on record, hold pressing down to record, then press save. Here there is a total of 4 steps to leave an annotation.

Replying to other annotations:

For the priority revisions I solved this by creating a group message interface where the user only uses 2 steps to leave an annotation: click on recent unread message and hold pressing down slide to record. This design also solves the problem of displaying multiple messages and limiting the virtual book club members to 4 users since this annotation style can consolidates messages and take up less space on the screen.

Priority Revisions: When user is first to leave an annotation
Before. when the user wants to create an annotation, I used the existing UI patterns where the user took 4 steps: use hand gestures to highlight, click on note, type in note, and then user press save.

Leave an annotation for the first time:

When the user is the first in the virtual book club to leave an annotation, it took 4 steps: use hand gestures to highlight, click on note, type in note, and then user press save. There is too many friction to leave an annotation which may deter the user from using this add-in feature. For this priority revision, it allowed me to see that it takes many steps for users to see their personal annotations where after the 4 steps to leave an annotation, the user needs to double tap to open the menu, then click on the "My Notebook" icon to see the archived annotations which adds up to 6 steps. This gives insight that more user interviews should be conducted if this is a frustrating aspect of the kindle application.

Learnings and Summary:

  • From the user testing, there was a high interest of the add-in feature which may mean users need to visually see the feature to determine whether they can see any interest in using it in the future.
  • I conducted a usability test with 3 pain points. For my main priority revision, I focused on the pain point of users having many steps to leave an annotation which may demotivate the user from using the virtual book club feature.
  • For priority revisions, I changed the interface of adding an annotation to look more like a group messaging interface to solve the problem of reducing the number of steps to leave an annotation and to consolidate messages to take up less screen time.
  • Although I tried to keep the interface on brand with the existing UI, the group messaging interface is different from the original interface creating personal annotations. This process discovered a possible problem with the existing interface design where it takes 4 steps to leave an annotation and 6 steps to view the annotations on the "My Notebook" page.

Reflection and Next Steps

Reflection · Next Steps

How to improve the add-in Kindle Book Club feature in the future?

7. Final

Below is the final prototype with the responsive design for mobile.

Clickable Prototype

Measuring Success:

  • My recommendation for assessing the success of these designs is to collect qualitative data via user testing on current existing Amazon users on whether the add-in feature enhances their reading experience.
  • Since this is a niche interest as expressed in the initial interviews and surveys, data should be collected on the amount of new users that were invited from current users.
  • Monitor the app review section to see the public's response on whether the virtual book club adds or removes from the reading experience.

Reflections and Next Steps:

  • This project gave me experience of when the add-in feature is vastly different from the original interface, and navigating how to solve that.
  • The add-in feature that uses group messaging has a different interface than the private annotation. User testing is needed to test if the new design enhances the reading experience.
  • More iterations should be done to merge the interface of the private annotations and group messaging annotations so that it is consistent.