Tasked with creating an app from conception to design, I thought back on the problems I'd like to solve for myself. I decided that, as an avid reader, a recommendation app is the direction I wanted to go.
The question I wanted to answer was this: Is there a better way to find your next book to read? I had always had some trouble finding books that covered overarching themes that I was interested in, and often those themes were not concentrated within a specific genre, which meant trying to find them became a guessing game of sorts. I asked this same question of my users during the research phase, finding that, yes, many people faced the same problem.
I decided to create Thematic, an app that allows a user to search for books based on genre, theme, or any cross-section of the two. It gives users information on what themes each book covers and has a recommendation feature based on previous books read, explicitly focusing on common themes relating to higher ratings.
The biggest takeaway from this project was just how important continual testing throughout refinement really was. A combination of prototype testing, preference testing, and refinement eliminated most usability issues and allowed for a more intuitive product for the user. The general idea of the product worked, as users were happy to try it out and found that the idea behind it was something they felt was useful. What didn’t work at first was the integration of these different features into one cohesive product. Finding ways to make sections within the app that weren’t so far apart was a little challenging, but with testing I was able to resolve them. I had some doubts about how I could make the search function make sense without overloading the user with choices, but it seemed alright. Perhaps a little small for some, but enlarging the type fixes that easily, as well as some more white space between content. What surprised me was the way users got to an end goal at times, finding indirect paths I wasn’t expecting, but that worked regardless. It was good to see new, innovative ways to navigate that I hadn’t anticipated beforehand, allowing me to create changes that allowed those new paths to flourish. If given more time, I would do more in person testing, a lot more. The information was invaluable, especially when combined with the remote testing afterwards. What I learned was how touch targets are important to calculate in a product, particularly if you aren’t deploying the product using invision. Other prototyping tools, like the Sketch App, require you to manually create a space for the touch target. In the future, I’ll use that information to create more intuitive and interactive prototypes to allow users to generate even more useful usability information to make the application better.