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A Safe Book-Sharing
Mobile Application

Case Study:
5-Day UX Hackathon

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Context

I completed Bookjar as a submission for the Adobe Creative Jam in association with Scholastic Book Fairs to increase accessibility to books for school-aged children. The Jam consisted of two-person teams exclusively studying UX Design at selected bootcamps and programs. I teamed up with Maleea Brown, a fellow CareerFoundry student in order to design a mobile app-based solution to make books readily available, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. To collaborate remotely, Maleea and I communicated via LinkedIn chat, shared Google Forms and Google Sheets documents, and worked synchronously on the prototype using Adobe Xd.

Duration

5 Days

November 6 - 10, 2021

Tools

Adobe Xd

Google Sheets

Google Forms

The Problem

After the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety of attendants, volunteers, and organizers of book-sharing events became a primary concern. For this Creative Jam challenge, we were tasked with designing a mobile app that would make book-sharing both accessible and safe to all communities.

The Solution

To address two major concerns, accessibility and safety, we designed a book-sharing system called Bookjar that utilizes PIN-access, sterilized safes where donors can deposit books for parents to withdraw later without the need for any human contact.

Girl with Bookshelves

Introduction

According to their website, an Adobe Creative Jam is “an event where participants are inspired by a presenting speaker, get trained on a software product from an expert, and complete the challenge at hand. Teams create solutions and then present their work to a jury of industry experts and peers for a chance to win prizes and bragging rights!”

 

For this event, two presenters from Scholastic Book Fairs set the stage and laid out their novel design challenge. The participants for the event were two-person teams from various UX design bootcamps and programs who were given one week to design a mobile app to encourage communities to host book-sharing events.

Design Process

Due to scheduling conflicts, the timeframe that Maleea and I had to devote to the project was limited to just five days. This meant developing a design plan and process that would maximize our time in order to produce a solution worthy of submitting.

Day 1

Understand
and
Plan

Day 2

Research
and
Analyze

Day 3

Define
and
Ideate

Day 4

Design

Day 5

Design
and
Present

• Expert Presentation
• Design Plan
• Competitive Analysis

• User Surveys
• Key Insights

• User Persona
• Use Case
• Task Analysis
• User Flow
• Paper Sketches

• Mid-Fidelity Wireframes
• Style Guide

• High-Fidelity  Wireframes
• Prototype
• Design Presentation

Day 1

Understand the Problem Space

Create a Design Plan

Expert Presentation

To begin a Creative Jam, Adobe kicks off the event with a presentations from industry experts and an Adobe tool expert. For this Jam, we were introduced to Scholastic Book Fairs by executive creative director, Jennifer Cast Galan, and VP of marketing, Laura Lundgren. They explained the novel challenge of hosting safe book-sharing events during the COVID-19 pandemic where traditional book fairs were no longer a viable option for many people and communities. Following their presentation, we were given our design brief.

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Jam Challenge Brief

Reading books helps to open up a child's mind, and feed their soul. During the pandemic, schools and libraries closed for the time being, shutting off the source of imagination and wonder for many kids, especially for children in underserved communities.

In this situation, how could you empower parents, caretakers, and neighbors to host a book fair or book-sharing/donation event? Could you design an organization or communication process to help scale the benefits of reading for all children, one street at a time?

"Your challenge is to design a mobile tool to help communities host book-sharing events, safely, in a pandemic. No matter how large or small the event, it must introduce or increase access to new or used books to school-age children."

Design Plan

One constraint that we had to work around was the limited time for collaborative work due to conflicting time zones and other outstanding scheduling issues. It was important for Maleea and I to determine a rigid schedule in order to design a solution that met the needs of our target users. After reviewing the design brief we decided on Parents and Guardians as our target audience. We then laid out a schedule to conduct a competitive analysis, distribute user surveys, ideate on potential solutions, and design a working prototype over the course of five days.

Competitive Analysis

The book-sharing event space for children is a market that is dominated by Scholastic in North America as their Book Fairs are the largest operating event with almost no existing competitors. For that reason, I began my competitive analysis by doing a SWOT analysis on Scholastic Book Fairs in North America and in the UK.

I also read various articles about the pros and cons of Scholastic Book Fairs. This proved to be very insightful as it shed light on the exclusivity of the events and how they can negatively impact children from low-income homes. This led to researching other book sharing events, such as book swaps and the “Bookmobile” program.

SWOT Analysis.png

Key Takeaways

  • Book Fairs are typically exclusive events hosted at schools with limited target audiences

  • There are only new books available at Book Fairs, usually from one publisher which limits choice

  • COVID has made large Book Fairs and book-sharing events very difficult to organize

  • There is an increasing public opinion that Book Fairs harm the psyche of children whose parents cannot afford expensive, new books

  • There are no methods for books to be donated to increase the range of selection available at Book Fairs

Day 2

Conduct User Research

Analyze Results to Inform Design

User Surveys

Despite being well-equipped with a wealth of knowledge from the presentation and competitive analysis, we felt it was important to curate insights from real parents and guardians to ideate on a viable solution to the challenge. Without the luxury of time, user surveys were distributed to collect data from a larger sample size than what we expected to get if we had conducted user interviews.

 

The following research goals were established:

  • What are parents' current attitudes towards book-sharing events?

  • What is the most positive benefit of book-sharing events from a parent's perspective?

  • Are there any frustrations, stressors, or other pain points that parents associate with book-sharing events?

  • How likely are parents to volunteer for or organize Book Fairs or other book-sharing events?

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Key Insights

  • What are parents' current attitudes towards book-sharing events?

-They are a great place to discover new books and get recommendations.

-Book Fairs and other book sharing events are seen in a positive light by 100% of our respondents.

-Environmentally conscious parents have concerns about Book Fairs that only sell new books.

  • What is the most positive benefit of book-sharing events from a parent's perspective?

-The ability for children to discover new books.

  • Are there any frustrations, stressors, or other pain points that parents associate with book-sharing events?

-Times and locations are not always convenient.

-Book Fairs typically only sell new books.

  • How likely are parents to volunteer for or organize Book Fairs or other book-sharing events?

-Not very likely, less than 10% have volunteered or would be interested in volunteering.

Day 3

Define User Needs and Goals

Ideate Solutions

Persona and Use Case

Without enough time to flush out a full user persona, Maleea and I decided to create a shell persona, their user goal, and our solution’s success criteria.

Proto-Persona: A parent who has a school aged child and wants to expose them to more books but in an environmentally friendly way during the pandemic.

 

Use Case: Our persona is a parent who wants to find a specific book to give their child for Christmas. They would prefer to find a used copy of the book as they prefer to maintain a minimal carbon footprint.

Task Analysis

After this discussion, we decided that we would each write a Task Analysis for a potential solution. Mine was chosen to move forward with after finding that we had both come up with very similar ideas.

 

The concept of our app allows book donors to input book information on their app and then safely deposit the books in strategically placed PIN-access safes. Parents are then able to use the app to reserve the books for retrieval at their selected location.

Entry Point: Download/Launch App

Success Criteria: Pick Up Books at Designated Location

  • Download/Launch App

  • Sign Up

    • Choose Location

    • Add Child’s Info (Age, Grade, Book Interests)

  • Home Page

  • “Find Books Near Me”

  • Look at Books and Pickup Locations

    • Map View with Markers for Pickup Locations

    • List View with Books Nearby

  • Search for Specific Book

    • Add Filters to Results

  • Select a Book

    • Detailed View

  • View Pickup Location on Map

  • Choose Pickup Time

    • “You will receive a pickup code when you’re book is ready”

  • Return to Homepage

  • Select Banner to Pickup Book

  • Pickup List

    • Select Book from List

  • (User Picks Up Book at Designated Location)

  • “Did you receive your book?”

    • User selects “Yes”

  • “Was the book in good condition?”

    • User selects “Yes”

  • “Please Rate Your Experience”

    • User Chooses Star Amount

User Flow

I also took it upon myself to create a User Flow to create a clear structure of what a mobile app-based solution would look like.

Paper Sketches

I used the remaining part of the day to draw paper sketches of the app. Due to the highly limited time remaining, I chose to only sketch the necessary screens to complete the chosen user flow for our final prototype. The process for sketching was accelerated by determining the "key action" of each screen and drawing a wireframe that highlighted that action.

Low Fi Sketches.png

These sketches were then digitized by Maleea into low-fidelity wireframes on Adobe Xd.

Day 4

Design Mid-Fidelity Wireframes
and Create Style Guide

Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

The final two days of the project were devoted almost exclusively to creating a working prototype on Adobe Xd. As the more experienced visual designer, I took charge of this part of the project and created mid-fidelity wireframes.

Search Page – 1.png
Detailed View – 1.png
Pick Up List – 1.png
Sign Up – 3.png
Map, Location Chosen.png
Booking Details – 1.png
PIN Guidance – 1.png
Sign Up – 4.png
Map List.png
Confirmation Page – 1.png
PIN Authentication – 1.png
Homepage – 1.png
List View – 1.png
Homepage – 2.png
Feedback 2 – 1.png

Style Guide

In order to maintain consistency across the design as we increased the fidelity, I also quickly wrote and organized a Style Guide for Maleea to use when designing without me.

Day 5

Design Interactive Prototype

Present Project

High Fidelity Wireframes and Prototype

As the submission deadline approached, we kicked it into high gear to establish a brand, add content to our design, and create the necessary interactions to make our app, “Bookjar,” come to life.

Splash Screen – 1.png
Sign Up-Log In – 1.png
Sign Up 1 Complete – 1.png
Home 1– 1.png
Find Books 1– 1.png
Find Books Location List – 1.png
Find Books Map – 1.png
Find Books Map Selected – 1.png
Search Keyboard – 1.png
Search Results – 1.png
Book Details – 1.png
Book Reservation Complete – 1.png
Confirmation Popup – 1.png
Home with Pickup 1 – 2.png
Pick Up List – 3.png
PIN Popup – 1.png
PIN Help – 1.png
Feedback Complete – 1.png

Design Presentation

The final step in the process was to write an abstract to accompany our prototype when submitting. The abstract had a 150-word limit so we needed to concisely, yet clearly, demonstrate the value of our product to the judges.

 

Bookjar aims to meet the needs of environmentally conscious parents who want to broaden their school-aged children’s horizons with a plethora of books. Bookjar allows parents to find second-hand books locally, pick them up securely, and donate unneeded books. 

 

Our user research revealed that the modern parent has concerns about the environmental impacts of purchasing new books. Safety, especially in the COVID era was also at the heart of our design process. To keep users safe, Bookjar utilizes lockers at predesignated, secure locations to limit face-to-face interaction without sacrificing access to books for all children.

 

Bookjar is not just limited to parents. In fact, anyone can sign up to use Bookjar to donate their unwanted books. We believe that Bookjar is the perfect tool to empower all communities to bring the benefits of reading to all children.

Library Book Choice

Conclusion and Reflection

Although we didn’t win the Creative Jam, I learned a lot about the importance of teamwork in a collaborative project. Time constraints played an unfortunate role in preventing Maleea and I from being able to design a more elaborate solution, but in the end I was very pleased with our ability to design a novel solution which addressed the key issues of safety and accessibility while also incorporating user feedback about the desire to have greater access to used books for environmental reasons. 

When participating in future hackathons, there are several changes I would like to make. First, I would like to have clearer lines of communication with the rest of my established well before the competition begins. In this project, Maleea and I were not able to communicate about the direction of our project for two full days. Second, I will try to partner with more experienced designers so that there is a more even distribution of workload throughout the process. Finally, I would like to have more ideation sessions early in the process so that we are able to have more flexibility in our design as the product takes shape. For Bookjar, both Maleea and myself wanted to incorporate children as key stakeholders but were too locked into our design to make that change in the final days. The eventual winners of the Adobe Creative Jam actually had a very similar concept to ours, but the way that they were able to include children in their final design was one of the major reasons that they won.

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