In this digital age, why do so many of us still prefer reading printed books? And under what circumstances might we prefer to read on a smart device instead? These were the two questions we sought out to solve for this project with iBook as the choice of app to improve.
From our qualitative research, we discovered two main personas: Readers who read for educational purpose and readers who read to be entertained.
For entertainment reading, we found out that disconnecting and relaxation is the priority. However this was different for educational reading where a user has a different set of goals: summarizing, reconnecting to the text and repeating.
We decided to focus our solution on digital educational reading, because we saw the value that can be created from a smartphone user’s perspective. Beside from having a different look & feel, we noticed another big difference when comparing print books with digital books — skimming for relevant information.
Through an iBook means that a reader has to jump from reading position to the selected page. It was that or swiping to skim. With e-books usually going into hundreds of pages, this is an especially tedious process, unlike a print book, where you can rapidly skim through and get a glimpse of every page and note.
Skimming and glimpsing notes at the same time gives the feeling of control over the content. It also helps to quickly refreshing the memory of the read, helping him to reconnect to the text with ease.
Creating a seamless and smart way of skimming mode into the existing user flow of iBooks proved to be a challenge. The first low-fidelity prototype was basically a zoom function where one could jump between three zoom levels. The finding here was that the execution was too rigid, hence I pivoted.
My second attempt was zooming with a pinching gesture which was smoother, but user testing revealed that although people are used to the pinching gesture from map apps, they didn’t expect this function in an e-reader app and therefore didn’t use it intuitively.
This lead to another pivot and round of iteration, this time accessing the overview mode through an one tap navigation. To switch between reading and overview mode I added a flip transition to give the user half a second time to be prepared for changing the mode. Knowing what comes next gives the feeling of control. The reading position stays safe on the backside of the overview mode. I was inspired by reading a print book. View the interaction here You can read more about the process and our user research on my medium blog post
Even when users use some gestures everyday, don’t expect them to know how your app works just because you use the same gestures in your app. The context of how those gestures are normally used plays a huge role in their behaviors. Icons can also have a huge variety of meanings and they should always be tested.
What’s your take about these new features? Drop me a line. Also if you would like to integrate it in your app.