My teammate, Komal, and I conducted a heuristic evaluation and performed a redesign of the Libby app for iOS. Our redesign improved key usability issues and streamlined a core task flow.
Mobile app redesign
Libby is a free app that allows users to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from their public library. With the rise of digital reading via ebooks and audiobooks, Libby is providing book lovers with a convenient solution to accessing their local library from their device.
The concept of Libby is extremely valuable to book lovers, however, the usability of the app is hindering its true potential. With Libby’s current app, users are not able to easily access the books they want to read which leaves them frustrated and often abandoning the app. After conducting the evaluation, we found that Libby had usability problems with all 10 heuristics.
We focused on redesigning the main function of the app, which is the process of searching for and checking out an e-book or audiobook. By redesigning the search and checkout process to comply with usability principles, we believe this will enhance the user experience, therefore increasing customer retention.
At the time we conducted the heuristic evaluation we noticed that while Libby is an Editor's Choice app on the App Store, users were not happy with the updated redesign. Below is a few of the reviews directly from the app store to demonstrate the user's frustration.
The task flow we decided to evaluate and redesign was the process of checking out a book based on a user's preferences, as this is a core function of the app.
Using Nielsen Norman Group's 10 Usability Heuristics as a reference, we evaluated the usability of a core task flow within the Libby app by measuring the extent to which it adheres to a set of usability heuristics. We then rated each evaluator from a severity scale of 0 to 4, 4 being a usability catastrophe, to determine design prioritization. From this evaluation, we found that there were violations of all 10 usability heuristics within the task flow.
While working with Libby's established design constraints of typography and color, we redesigned the following screens to incorporate UX patterns that built upon consistency and system standards.
The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.
The design should speak the users' language. Use words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user, rather than internal jargon. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
Users often perform actions by mistake. They need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted action without having to go through an extended process.
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform and industry conventions.
External inconsistencies included icon placement and labeling. It's typical that most apps only place an emphasis on the middle icon when it is a primary action and in this case, it is not. It's also standard to title uncommon icons for easier recognition.
Created labels for icons and rearranged the placement of the icons to better follow industry standards.
Good error messages are important, but the best designs carefully prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions, or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.
Minimize the user's memory load by making elements, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the interface to another. Information required to use the design (e.g. field labels or menu items) should be visible or easily retrievable when needed.
There is no header to tell the user which screen they're on, no indication of which screen is currently selected in the tab, and the meaning behind some of the icons is unclear since no labels are present to provide more context.
Designed page headers, highlighted selected icon, and labeled navigation icons.
Shortcuts — hidden from novice users — may speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the design can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
Users are unable to edit or delete existing guides. Ability to save and edit only one preferred guide.
Designed the ability to add, edit, or delete guides based on users’ frequent actions and preferences.
Help and documentation modal is repeated each time that you minimize a category. The message can appear up to 17 times on the same screen causing the user to become annoyed.
Decreased the total number of interactions needed to minimize categories.
Interfaces should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in an interface competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
What may be the home screen (there's no clear distinction), does not keep content and visual design focused on the essentials that can help support the user's primary goals.
Created a home screen with a simplified layout with all of the essentials a user would like to see in order to use the app more efficiently and intuitively.
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no error codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
It’s best if the system doesn’t need any additional explanation. However, it may be necessary to provide documentation to help users understand how to complete their tasks.
When we began this evaluation by reading Libby's reviews, it was clear to us that many were frustrated at how difficult it was to navigate after the app underwent after a recent update. The new redesign caused users to have to relearn how to use the app, which may not always be a problem, but in this case, it was not intuitive.
By redesigning the checkout process, which targeted visual, content, layout, navigation and interaction of core screens and functions within the app, we believe our new design not only complies with usability principles but also improves the overall user experience and customer satisfaction.
When users encounter roadblocks within a digital product, they are very likely to drop off and depending on the severity, never use it again. This is the reality Libby faces after updating the app's interface with changes that impacted its underlying structure and functionality.
With our proposed redesign that demonstrates strategic design decisions based on usability, empathy and design principles, this will enhance the user experience and therefore lead to an increase in customer retention.