Mobile app design for convenience and accessibility
Seattle Public Library
Tasha Stukes - design
Deb Yates - information architecture
Led UX Research and Project Management for a team of 3 UX designers on a concept project to redesign the responsive website during a 2-week agile sprint.
Redesigned mobile app with personalized content helps empower users through accessible knowledge and local events.
To help guide the scope of this 2-week sprint, my first priority as Project Manager was to develop a functional team plan with roles and responsibilities to ensure all members could collaborate effectively.
Next, I set project time blocks. I used a Trello board to enhance visibility for task assignments and due dates by creating lists for each stage and cards for each deliverable.
Since my teammates were also my users, a primary goal was facilitating timely and consistent availability of design artifacts.
To that end, I also created an organized documentation folder to ensure that all team members could easily locate and share files in both Trello and Google Drive.
Seattle Public Library is many things to many people. Organizational research, site visits, and competitive analysis showed that their user base had wide demographics. Providing equal access to key services like computers, meeting spaces, and tutoring was a primary concern.
I developed a screening survey to select interview candidates with relevant demographics.
A surprising initial insight was that access to physical books is still the primary user goal, even with the rise of digital media.
I cross-referenced this with data for SPL's annual business metrics to validate the trend.
Conducted 5 User Interviews
I created a user interview script digging into the how, what, where, and WHY users were completing common library tasks on mobile devices.
I conducted user interviews remotely using Zoom video conferencing to capture audio recordings and detailed notes. Key quotes were selected for analysis.
"I'd use a mobile app to add books to my list, but only if it was REALLY FAST."
"I read for FUN. I like VARIETY and browsing books to learn something new."
After synthesizing interview data points with an affinity map, a few clear trends emerged which our team used to develop our persona.
Valuing a personalized experience
Valuing saving time and money
Variety in finding new content
Accessibility to reserve books and rooms
Mapping Mary's Journey
Since a primary concern was the ability to reserve free meeting rooms, I made a detailed user flow of the existing process.
I realized there were many key decision points where the she might abandon the task due to confusing menus and long delays to confirm availability.
When I realized Mary had to wait 2 days to confirm availability over email after requesting a room, I knew there had to be a better way.
After completing our research and analysis, we wanted a very clear definition of the main issues that Mary would face using the existing SPL site in a common scenario:
On the bus after a long day teaching, she needs to quickly reserve a meeting room on her phone
Current responsive website is inefficient
Common tasks require too much time and effort
Difficult to find relevant information in complex menus
Mobile App that is convenient and accessible
Personalized content recommendations in tiles
Live scheduling availability and confirmation
Design Studio and Wireframes_v1
After drawing inspiration from comparative mobile apps like Netflix and Spotify which used bottom nav bars, clear icons, and an overall clean interface, I led our team to conduct two design studios.
The key focus of this process was getting clear on the new user flow to reserve a meeting room at the library while at the whiteboard before moving on to more time-intensive wireframing.
While refining our designs, I stayed diligent with my team regarding key deadlines to allow for sufficient user feedback and testing.
With the first version of our wireframes in place, I developed a usability test plan and script based off of our main scenario. Our team conducted 3 usability tests, both in-person and recorded over Zoom video.
Honestly, the analysis of our first prototype showed that our initial design was pretty rough. I took careful notes to identify common issues and help our team execute the following key changes:
Ask SPL icon - moved to bottom nav
Bottom nav icons - added labels
Room Confirmation page - added details
Home buttons - moved position
High Resolution Mockups
Perform further research for navigation and site-map updates
Prototype user flows for Shelves function (Holds and Wish List)
Expand Ask SPL function (increase accessibility options)
Expand barcode scanning function to find books
Considering the short duration of this sprint and sometimes challenging dynamic of working with a new team, I was happy with the quality and usability of the final product. My key insights in retrospective were:
Depth is driven by scope: big biz, unclear problem, and long timeline = more research. Small biz, short time, and established problem = short research
Waterfall versus Agile: short timeframes drive working in parallel (agile), but this puts constraints on depth and quality of work (strengths of waterfall)
Fighting for your ideas too much can mean prioritizing your ego over the quality of the project and work for the client.