This project was an assignment given to me from Jungle Scout during a job interview process. The only constrain I had was the time. I had 7 days to work on this project and put together a presentation.
When I first received the assignment to design a self-publishing digital platform to democratize publishing, I thought I needed to call the designers (my “clients”) to understand better the objective of the task, acceptance criteria, requirements and their understanding regarding who are the potential users of this product. After the call, I started defining better all the information I needed.
The only thing I needed and the clients didn’t share with me was about how I can measure success when the product is released? What is the key performance indicator (KPI)? So I came up with one. 40% of self-published ebooks were published under KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Therefore, there is a huge market out there that we could explore (60%) and convert. That means ideally we would be creating >16.5% of the self-publishing eBooks in the market, just the second leader in the area.
By looking at the competitors through a competitive analysis, I noticed that the process of publishing a book is complex and overwhelming mainly for first-timers. By creating a simple and easy user experience, where the information the user needs is given to them on the right moment of the process without overwhelming user with a huge amount of information at the same time, I will be able to attract users to our platform. Those users would be people who few intimidated with the avalanche of information from KDP and doesn’t know where they should start.
I - Discovery
This first step of my Design Thinking process. Based on my resources, I chose few ways to do my research that will give me enough information to start coming up with solutions for the problem. I want to understand how is the process to publish an ebook; what area the good and bad use experience from KDP; what can be improved from what is in the market right now so I stand out from the crowd. I also want to understand who are my users (and validate some insights I got from my clients). Who are they? What are their motivations and pain points?
Below, I created a quick sketch of my competitive analysis with some negative and positive elements of the KDP digital flow. Using a bit of heuristic evaluation, I looked into the user flow as well as functionalities and interaction elements.
Overall, the KDP experience has too many information, no hierarchy, no way to guide user by just showing what is needed for a specific step of the process.
Ideally, at this point of my research I could be thinking about doing workshops, interviews, focus group, surveys etc, but with the resources I had, my research was more about what I called “Internet Research” and clients interview.
I noticed that this part of the research was quite important for me to validate who are the personas and what are their frustrations. I went through Reddit channels about KDP, forums, blog posts and reviews. I looked for patterns of user’s pain points, lifestyle, attitudes, and motivations. I also looked into the type of language user’s use (so I can replicate that on the experience), missing features among competitors etc.
Finally here I put together the some of the most common pain points.
II - Define
The second step of my Design Thinking process in this project was to document the finds from the Discovery step. I created 2 personas literally based on my finds and clients interview, as well as storyboards related to those personas that will help me to refine the requirements and start working on the user flows. I also analyzed the requirements to prioritized them.
I basically had 2 different personas: first one is a person who needs an extra income as a motivation to start publishing a first ebook, second one is someone who uses ebook to promote their business and attract clients to their consulting company. Those 2 different users—new and recurring—drove me to design solid experience to guide first-timers to understand how the self-publish works as well as made me think about efficient way to show relevant information for those recurring users including educational pieces.
III - Ideate
Now it’s time to explore some ideas. The Information Architecture of this project was basically split in two big flows: “create an ebook” flow and Dashboard flow.
Then I started working on some sketches before digging into to the actual user flow.
While playing around with some concepts, the main idea was finding a way to reduce the cognitive load in every step of the process by using progressive disclosure. This led me to a solution of using single steps method where user provides one information at a time. This method facilitates user to take a decision. It will also show only what’s necessary for each step instead of overloading user with so many information. Steps can be completed in whatever order the user wants depending on what information they currently have. The single steps method also gives a sense of accomplishment where the more they complete the steps, the higher is the chance they tend of finish it. The inspiration was based on Airbnb and Wealthsimple.
Will the overall idea defined, I started working on the user flow.
IV - Prototype
Then finally I worked on the mid-fidelity mockups. The decision of that was more about timing. I had to work on some wireframes but at the same time I wouldn’t have enough time to work on UI after that, so I ended up choosing a middle ground.
Here are some key information about the screens:
Single steps to reduce coagnitive load
Creating a book process was based on both personas. Left side of every question, I show the important content that needs to be read like guidelines, right side I show extra information that will help first-timers. This right side with extra information and tips will be also shown on the right side of the Dashboard and customized based on the user whether first-timer that needs to complete any missing step of creating a book, or recurring users when we can send them tips of how to market their ebooks.
Creating ebook process is fully flexible and user can choose what to answer and when. A progress bar on every information needed will help user to track what is complete and what is missing.
Interaction between screens on Creating ebook process has an important role of showing where user is located inside of the process flow; a sense of direction.
On the Dashboard, user can move the section around depending on priority and what they use the most: analytics or ebook sales details.
A marketplace was created based on the recurring persona. This persona needs professional help to boost its sales. Also freelance people can now have a chance to get more clients. User can switch their account from ebook creator to buyer.
Hierarchy of the elements has also an important role here either on Creating and ebook or on the Dashboard itself. Left side is always for important information, right side is for extra and tips. That’s how users naturally scan a screen: from top left side of the screen to bottom right side.
Details shown in analytics where fully based on conversations from Reddit and forums, where user care the most about their sales and royalties.
Empty Dashboard is actually an opportunity to explain to the user what they should expect to see in every section once they publish an ebook.
Last, the both Creating ebook and Dashboard were designed with the ability to scale. I could easily remove or add questions on Creating ebook process as well as removing or adding sections and pages on the Dashboard..
Last, I got one person for a quick casual moderated usability test to validate the comprehension and satisfaction points on the “creating a book” flow as well as on all the information provided on the Dashboard.
V - Outcomes
This project ended up quite big for the amount of time I had. In the middle of ii, I had to cut scope so I could finish it on time. That was the most important and challenging thing for me: how to show everything I want in a more simplified way and still keeping the client’s requirements.
After the great presentation with a group of people at Jungle Scout, I got the job. :)