Libby App Redesign

Improving the usability of Libby's interface through a heuristic evaluation


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.

Project Type

Mobile app redesign


2 weeks


UX Designer
UI Designer



Team Members

Nadia Diaz
Komal Zaidi

A Redesign with the User in Mind

What is Libby?

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. 

Ensuring a User-Centered Redesign

Design process

Empathizing with Users

Analyzing reviews

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.

Defining the Task

Task flow selection

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.

Evaluators & Rating Scale

Assessing violations of usability heuristics

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.

The Redesign

Creating improved designs based on usability assessment & heuristic evaluation

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.

1. Visibility of System Status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

2. Match Between System & the Real World

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.

3. User Control & Freedom

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.

4. Consistency & Standards

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.

5. Error Prevention

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.


No confirmation to identify if a user is sure about their decision to wait and place a hold for an audiobook that has a waitlist.


Included a modal that asks users to confirm their decision when placing holds.

6. Recognition Rather Than Recall

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.

7. Flexibility & Efficiency of Use

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.

8. Aesthetic & Minimalist Design

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.

9. Help Users Recognize, Diagnose, and Recover from Errors

Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no error codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.


Error message is inaccurate because it implies that collections matching a user's preferences do exist in the catalogue, however, none are being shown.


Provided a clear error message that offers a suggested solution.

10. Help & Documentation

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.

Redesigned Task Flow

Checkout Process Flow

Based on our evaluation and recommendations, we were able to redesign the old task flow to make the process of checking out a book based on a user's preferences more intuitive while following usability heuristics.

Design Impact

How design decisions impact Libby's users and business

User Impact

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.

Business Impact

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.