ReadMore Desktop App

A research and design project to create an app for reading and sharing digital books

ReadMore is a MacOS app to consolidate and manage, share, and read your digital books all in one app no matter where they were purchased. The app addresses three problems: digital book purchases living in numerous libraries in proprietary apps, extremely limited digital book sharing options, and inconsistent reading experiences across platforms offering accessibility features for marginalized use cases.

The Users:

(1) Jana is a user who has purchased digital books through Apple Books, Kindle, and Audible. She wants to legally loan her favorite books to friends, but feels frustrated that her books are locked down in each app she purchased them in.

(2) Zach reads slower than most, but he loves to read. To speed up his reading he exports all his PDFs to a flash text reader. Unfortunately, there is no way he can do this with digital books he has purchased from the main ebook sellers due to DRM locks.

Problem

Users who want to loan and borrow digital books or read the content with accessibility methods have few options short of using a third party DRM stripper to unlock their purchases. This creates potential copyright violations and file management chaos.

Solution

My solution for these problems is a consolidated location for all of a user’s digital books to live. This allows users to loan the actual file to another user through the platform, and to read with in-app accessibility features.

Constraints:

Accessing a user's purchases in proprietary apps through an API.

Reading proprietary file formats with DRM locks.

Loaning a book without making any copy of the file to comply with copyright laws.

Role and Tasks:

I worked on this project alone during each phase. I collaborated each day with three other UX designers regarding the progress of the project, but completed the work alone.

Next Steps:

This has been a fantastic project and one that I would love to see developed. The next steps are to continue wireframing and prototyping the entirety of the app and then to design iOS apps. Additionally, I would like to design for alternative operating systems and to include more accessibility features.

Project Takeaways:

This project was an excellent learning opportunity for me to grow as a solo-designer. In retrospect, I made my scope of work so specific that it didn’t allow for the necessary pivot I needed to do after my research. I love prototyping. The most enjoyable phase of the project was seeing the design come to life in Sketch.

Scope of Work

In order to complete the project in the two week timeframe and to narrow the scope of what I would be working on, I wrote up a scope of work document. This included a description of the problem, my hypothesized solution, a description of the users, and the projected dates and methods I planned on using throughout the project.

Scope of Work

In order to complete the project in the two week timeframe and to narrow the scope of what I would be working on, I wrote up a scope of work document. This included a description of the problem, my hypothesized solution, a description of the users, and the projected dates and methods I planned on using throughout the project.

Discovery Research

Directed Storytelling

In addition to the Google survey, I met with four frequent digital book users for the directed storytelling method. Each engagement gave me further insight into the challenges users face with the variety of platforms they use and the quantity of books they own.

Survey

In order to inform my design decisions and to validate my hypothesis, I constructed a Google survey to learn more about user’s preferences and habits regarding digital books. I shared the survey on various social media platforms in circles made up of academics, tech professionals, and a general audience. I received 75 responses before I closed the survey and combined these findings with the results of my directed storytelling. I used the comments from the surveys to create a word cloud which highlighted user’s preferences and desires.

Information Architecture

Before wireframing, I spent time laying out the application's structure. This meant accounting for each page and main interaction that would occur in the app. While for this project I did not design each of these pages, I was able to plan out the detail of the app and begin to decide what story I would be telling as I demonstrated the app's functionality. This story would go on to determine which pages I would design in high-fidelity.

To ensure that I was not pursuing an illegal or impossible idea, I began to map out the system and the path each digital book would take when entering the ReadMore ecosystem. I spent time making sure that the file would not be duplicated or remain accessible to multiple people at once.

Wireframing & Low-Fidelity Prototyping

After gaining a good understanding of what users wanted, I began to externalize some ideas in low-fidelity wireframes and mockups with Adobe Comp. In the initial ideating stage I drew the pages which highlighted the main interactions users would have with the software, not every page or popup.

High-Fidelity Prototype

Finally, with low-fidelity prototypes complete, I drew up high-fidelity prototypes in Sketch. This involved creating vector icons and GIF images created in Photoshop to demonstrate the accessibility features.

In order to show the prototype in action, I imported the artboards from Sketch to InVision and linked them together to tell a story through the execution of certain tasks.

Watch the Presentation

Watch the Prototype Tour

Methods

Scope of Work  •  Competitive Audit  •  Google Survey  •  Directed Storytelling  •  Word Cloud  •  Tech Scoping  •  Wireframing  •  Low–High-fidelity Prototyping  •  Presentation and Demonstration

Tools

Google Surveys  •  Pages  •  Axure  •  Procreate  •  Adobe Comp  •  Pixelmator Pro  •  Sketch  •  InVision  •  Keynote  •  Photoshop  •  Kanban Board