Novel Forum

UI/UX Design

An app designed to read and discuss novels. This app allows you to enjoy a book club virtually, assign reading to a class, or talk about the books you are reading. The concept also included book recommendations based on your profile, links to discussion (private, group, or public) boards within a book, with clear spoiler warnings in all discussions.

My role included User Research, Information Architecture, User Interface Designer, and User Testing.

InVision Prototype

User Testing

User Testing Round One


  1. Download East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
  2. Get to East of Edens Discussion board called “Naming of the Twins” without a login.
  3. Recommend East of Eden to Jeremy Caruso
  4. Go to your most recently read book.
  5. You’re curious about your new friend, Agustin Knighton. View his wishlist.

Findings from 5 Users

  1. The download button was not obvious to all users.
  2. All users had wanted to use a back button, User 5 commented that breadcrumbs were not obvious enough.
  3. Look again for a back button, User 4 swiped the screen to go back
  4. No users had trouble with this question
  5. Buttons were not obvious enough for users 1, 2, 3, and 5. User 4 went to their wishlist.

User Testing Round Two


  1. Download East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
  2. Get to East of Edens Discussion board called “Naming of the Twins” without a login.
  3. Recommend East of Eden to Jeremy Caruso
  4. Go to your most recently read book.
  5. You’re curious about your new friend, Agustin Knighton. View his wishlist.
  6. You have a friend obsessed with science fiction novels and he keeps recommending them to you, but you hate science fiction. Delete the books in that genre from your recommendations list.

Findings from 5 Users

  1. User 1 and 4 were looking for a browse feature (Not included in this version, search only).
  2. User 1 was confused by the icon for discussion.
  3. All Users went to their profile page to recommend rather than the book’s page. Should include a recommend to a friend button from users bookshelf. Went to own recommendations (User’s recommended books needs to be labeled differently, it causes confusion to all users).
  4. User 5 went to bookshelf expected the most recently read book to be at the top of her bookshelf. This should be the initial filtering with the options there beyond most recently read.
  5. No users had trouble with this question.
  6. No users had trouble with this question.


Steven Uniacke // 10 yrs old // Male // Grade 4 // Advanced technology level // Student
  • Steven is impatient, he doesn’t enjoy reading. He has limited time allowed on electronics and wants to use it wisely (not for a homework assignment). Doesn’t own a smart phone, tablet and desktop available.
  • Goals/Tasks for using app: Assignment from teacher to read the rest chapter of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and discuss (with at least one reply) about the setting of the book.
  • Why would persona want to buy or use app? Required for a grade in his fourth grade English class.
  • Problems the app solves? Having to carry an additional book in his backpack, doesn’t have to purchase the book.
  • Problems/benefits? Problems: Wants to get in and out of the discussion board as quickly as possible. Might skim the first chapter if it looks interesting, but probably won’t.
Rebekah Murray // 20 yrs old // Female // Sophomore at University // Advanced technology level // Student
  • Rebekah is introverted. She likes to read whenever she can (like the bus up the hill to Lehigh University). She gets emotionally involved in the characters of her books.
  • Goals/Tasks for using app: Wants to gripe about a characters death to people who have also read the latest John Green book. Doesn’t want any spoilers of how the love interest deals with main characters death.
  • Why would persona want to buy or use app? All her friends at school are engineers and party people. So they’re either obsessed with studying or alcohol. But she likes to read in her spare time.
  • Problems the app solves? Solves the issue of spoilers in discussion boards that are on the book (because everyone is in a different place in the book).
  • Problems/benefits? Problems: Enjoys reading paper books, so she often wants to access discussion boards based on chapter without linking from the electronic book in the app.
James Peterson // 58 yrs old // Male // High school, Trade school // Intermediate technology level // Truck Driver
  • James is introverted. Reads when he’s not driving. Listens to books when he is driving. Enjoys plot lines and doesn’t much care for how well the book was written. Forgetful.
  • Goals/Tasks for using app: Wants to read and listen to a myriad of books. Generally needs a recommendation of what to read next.
  • Why would persona want to buy or use app? Needs a way to track books to see which ones he’s read and remember what happens in books that have a sequel that he read a while ago.
  • Problems the app solves? Allows user to reference past read books and ask questions about the book in the discussion boards if needed.
  • Problems/benefits? Problems: Doesn’t want disruptions to his book while reading (i.e. links to a discussion board&341;. Likes to listen to books as well as read them.
Ms. Lazer // 42 yrs old // Female // Masters // Advanced technology level // Middle school teacher
  • Ms. Lazer is very patient (she has to be with middle schoolers). She understands the generations dependence on technology and attempts to use that in her classroom. Wants to students to learn and have fun.
  • Goals/Tasks for using app: Knows most students are attached to their smart phones and wants to utilize this fact to get her students to actually read the assignment and discuss outside of the classroom and her facilitating the discussion.
  • Why would persona want to buy or use app? Knows students are generally attached to their phone outside of the classroom. Wants to take advantage of that.
  • Problems the app solves? Gets students to read while also being on their phone. Allow student led discussion (that the teacher can check)
Jenn Jones // 29 yrs old // Female // Bachelors // Advanced technology level // Editor at Random House Publishing
  • Jenn considers herself an intellectual. She focuses on the reasons behind every character decision. Half the time her reading is a mental exercise, not relaxation. Loves figuring out puzzles (she deems people as puzzles).
  • Goals/Tasks for using app: Wants intellectual conversations about a characters developments. Debates about inferred information in the story. Anything that has to do with implied story lines.
  • Why would persona want to buy or use app? Doesn’t always find the intellectual partner she wants to discuss books with. Even when she just wants to discuss classics. Not everyone can see past the surface of the book.
  • Problems the app solves? Gets more specific with her discussions and hope that someone around the world is as smart and desperate for implied subplots as she.
  • Problems/benefits? Problems: Wants a very specific type and level of conversation. Doesn’t want people complaining that her character died, but wants to discuss if the character actually did die, or is now part of a conspiracy.

Information Architecture

Wireframes Round 1

  • Scenerios
  • Rebekah needs to discuss the jarring impact of Dumbledore’s death in Harry Potter. She needs someone who relates.
  • James wants to read the discussion on a particular book but doesn’t care to contribute. He doesn’t want to login and create another profile to a thing he’ll never use.
  • Rebekah wants to discuss the most recent print book she has read. Has not read any books in app.
  • Ms. Lazer wants her eight, fourth grade English students to discuss the setting of the first chapter of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Needs a “group” discussion category to invite a certain number of “friends” in a group.
  • James wants to read a general discussion of a book to see if it’s worth reading or not.
  • Stevie needs to complete an assignment for his fourth grade English class. He really doesn’t care about “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and would rather just get on to the discussion part and fake it til he makes it.
  • Jenn is so deep into the connotation of the blue drapes in the latest novel she’s reading that she can focus on literally nothing else. She needs to discuss only the blue drapes, she doesn’t want to be distracted by any other discussion.
  • James wants to make sure he hasn’t read this specific book already before he starts it. Needs to keep track of the books he has read already.
  • Jenn needs to brag about the books she’s read, because she is so intellectual and vain that she needs all her friends to know how intellectual she is. Wants to rate her favorite books
  • Stevie hates reading, but he loves prizes. He will read books only to get rewards. Wants a badge system (or stickers) based on number of books, and how fast he can read them.

Wireframes Round 2