For Fun: Goodreads Redesign Pt. 1

I love to read, but after graduating college I found it really difficult to maintain a regular reading habit. A friend recommended Goodreads to me, and after joining, I noticed that I read books far more regularly and at a much quicker pace. I use the Goodreads app a lot, and I wanted to take some of my free time and rethink the app's flow and design. Since I'm only designing this just for fun, I'm only using my own use cases for reference. I primarily use the app to 1. update my progress on the book I'm currently reading 2. look up reviews for books I'm considering purchasing while I'm in store and 3. save books to my "Want to Read" shelf, so I won't forget about them.

Current App Flow

When you open the app, your immediately shown your feed, which lists recommended books, and your friends' activites, which include what they're currently reading, what they want to read, and what they've reviewed. You can tap the menu at the bottom and view your books, which include everything you're reading, want to read and have read. You can also tap the search and barcode tabs, which allow you to search by ISBN, author name and book title. For me, the app's current set up is a little funky, and I have to think for a second about what tab I need to open.

Things I Want to Improve

I want to make the flow more intuitive and seamless, decreasing the user's need to "think." I want to place more importance on my books and the search feature, rather than the social aspect. I want to make it easy to view and read reviews, especially reviews made by my friends. And I'd like to update the design to something more modern, but something that still respects the vibe of a library.

Overall I'm pretty excited about redesigning an app just for fun! I'll post my sketches and flow ideas in my next post, and probably include some visual moodboards. ✌🏻

Professional Goals for 2017 🏅

It's really important to create and set meaningful goals for yourself, both personally and professionally. I haven't been great at keeping up with my goals, but I'm starting to really appreciate how crucial they are for me, so I'm recording them here as a motivator to myself!

  1. Write More: This is a big goal for me. I've had a love/hate relationship with writing for most of my life. I like writing in theory, but I've always struggled to get my thoughts onto paper (or, uh, on screen). As I delve deeper into my UX career, I realize that writing is so, so important. It's important to know how to effectively communicate something complicated (like an app or a product feature) to a client, and it's important to learn how to write for your product's audience. Even if I'm not the final copywriter for my product, I need to "design" the intention behind the copy. So I plan to crank out blog posts more frequently, write copy for my products as often as possible, and I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo this year (which is more of a personal goal, but hey!).
  2. Learn Interaction Design: I'm confident in my strategy and visual design skills, but I need to round out my IXD skills. An app's interactions can make it feel either sharp or sloppy, professional or amateur. I'm currently learning Principle and After Effects. If you have any good resources for IXD, put them in the comments!
  3. Speak More: When I was in high school I participated in competitive speech and acting tournaments (I was very cool), so I'm really comfortable speaking in front of large audiences. I think it would be really beneficial for my career and my professional network to speak more at design schools, design events, and maybe even a conference. I'm hoping I can use the content I develop on my blog as a starting point for topics.

And those are my goals! If you have your own professional goals, or have any resources to help me reach mine, leave a comment! ✌🏻

Designing for Emotions

When designing a product, a lot of time is spent focusing on the physical design: the buttons styles, typefaces, and colors. We carve out time for research and testing to make sure that our users clearly understand the product and can easily interact with it. We fine tune the UI, make it look beautiful and send it off into the world. We hope that by making our product look nice and function well that users will happily adopt it.

Sometimes, we focus so much on the technical and physical design of a product, we overlook a very important, yet underused tool: emotional design.

Emotional design takes into account the user’s feelings as they use our product. A user’s emotions can be affected by the visual design, but sometimes those feelings exist outside of our creation. A user will react negatively to product or process simply because of what the product is asking them to do, or why they're using the product in the first place. In those instances, it's difficult to positively influence a user's feelings with only the design. When faced with that challenge, it’s important for designers to take a creative approach: empathize.

1. Asking the User to Do Something They Don't Want to Do

Screen shot of a Forbes.com Pop-up
Screen shot of a Forbes.com Pop-up

If you happen to use the browser plugin, Adblocker, you’re probably used to enjoying an ad-free experience. You’re probably also used to some sites blocking you from viewing their content until you disable the plugin. This is fairly common on news sites, who rely heavily on ad revenue. For instance, if Adblock is on and you visit forbes.com, you get a popup and a video that tell you to disable it. From a design perspective, this process is simple, and it’s easy to understand. However, from a user’s perspective, it’s an annoying distraction that’s disrupting the experience. The user is being asked to do something they don’t want to do, and they’re given no reward for their effort.

Screen shot of a Wired.com Pop-up
Screen shot of a Wired.com Pop-up

In comparison, wired.com has a popup asking you to disable Adblock. Wired lacks a video, or even a description that tells you how to disable it. However, Wired goes out of the way to empathize with the user: “We get it: Ads aren’t what you’re here for. But ads help us keep the lights on.” It’s a short, simple sentence with a casual tone. Wired manages to not only to empathize with the user, but to also come across as human. It’s much easier for a person to relate to another person, rather than a company. And because of that, disabling adblocker on Wired feels a lot less annoying.

2. Getting the User Through a Painful Process

Screenshot of Turbo Tax's startup process.

Screenshot of Turbo Tax's startup process.

No one enjoys preparing taxes. From start to finish, the process is stressful and intimidating. When you start the filing process, Turbo Tax immediately asks you how you’re feeling. Your answer won’t affect how you file your taxes. It only exists to help you feel a little bit better, and it does a pretty good job. Through the rest of your filing process, Turbo Tax uses a very friendly tone, and congratulates you when make it through filing milestones. Through the whole experience, Turbo Tax goes out of its way to provide a friendly, human experience, and it makes your filing process feel a bit easier.

Implementation Tips

  1. Acknowledge and accept that the user might be put off by your product from the get-go. You can’t control those innate feelings, but you can control the process they go through.
  2. Make the user feel like they have a voice. It gives them a sense of control over the situation, and lets them be an active participant. No one likes being told what to do without input.
  3. Speak to your user using natural language. Empathize with the user, and they’ll start to humanize your product, which makes them more forgiving of any mistakes they encounter later.

By using these tips, we can make our products a little more friendly and a little more human. ✌🏻