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  • Writer's picturekristensunny

Quick Redesign: Libby Mobile App

Musings of a Product Designer (and target user) on one of my most-used apps.

I gave myself 10 minutes to look through a mobile app that I use often. I chose Libby, an app that allows users to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from their local libraries with a registered library card. In quarantine, I've been reading a LOT more, so I find myself using Libby almost every week. I love that the app makes it easy to browse my library's collection and lets me download books straight to my Kindle. However, I've noticed a few pain points with the Android version of the app, which got me thinking about simple ways to improve the user experience.

Navigation Redesign

On the bottom navigation bar, the center and most prominent button is underutilized. Tapping on it opens a speed dial with options to customize the logo based on skin tone (see picture below). This button could be better utilized if tapping navigated to an essential menu. In the below picture, the image on the right shows the main menu that's opened when a user taps on the black and white logo in the top right.

I suggest removing that menu button in the top right and using the central button in the bottom navigation bar to open the main menu. This button is more prominent than the black and white version at the top and is also in the thumb zone for easy access.

(Left): Current home screen with speed dial pop-up. (Right): Main menu that currently opens when user clicks on black and white logo in top right corner of the image on the left.

When I find an author I love, I like to browse their other books to find my next great read. Currently, when I search by an author's name on the app, I find a list of books written by the author, but also book titles and authors with similar names. I'm unable to tap on the correct author's name to see a list of their books. Instead, I have to tap on the desired book to open a new screen and then click on the author's name on that page (see right screen in below image).

I suggest being able to search by any keyword (i.e. book title or author's name), tap on the author I'd like to see more about, and then navigate directly from the search screen to a page that lists every book or item attributed to that author. This would cut out unnecessary steps and simplify navigation.

(Left): Example of current search results. (Right): Author's page. I propose simplifying the navigation by clicking on the author's name in the search results and navigating directly to their page.

Preferences Redesign

When searching, users can set filter preferences to refine their results. Currently, users can tap on text buttons for each filter type (see left screen in image below) and/or click on "Refine" to open a filter menu (see middle screen in image below).

Instead, I suggest removing the unnecessary "Refine" button and accompanying menu and keeping the text buttons. This would reduce potential confusion for the user and decrease the number of taps needed to set search filters.

(Left): Current search filter options, with both text buttons and a "Refine" button. (Middle): Current "Refine" menu. (Right): My suggestion to keep text buttons and remove "Refine" button.

"Save for Later" Redesign

Whenever I'm browsing for books, whether it's on Libby or Amazon, I love to have the option to save a title for later in case I don't have the time to read it or order it at the moment. On Libby, there's currently an option to tag a title with a customizable emoji (see first screen in below image).

I suggest exchanging the tag option with a "Save for Later" button (see middle screen in below image). This wording is clearer than an unlabeled emoji and is a common term used across many apps and websites. In the redesign, tapping on "Save for Later" would open a customizable menu using words instead of emojis, which I believe would increase understanding for an older audience who may not be familiar with emojis (see right screen in below image). Users may customize this list based on their interests.

(Left): Current tag menu. (Middle): I suggest switching emojis with "Save for Later" wording. (Right): My proposed "Save for Later" menu.

Shelf Redesign

Currently, the Shelf screen is where Libby users can find and manage their loans, holds, and tagged items. Although I personally opted in to receive notifications about the status of my loans and holds, if a user opts out of this, they can find status notifications on this screen next to specific items. To see specific information related to loans, holds, or tags, users tap on text buttons at the top of the screen to navigate to those screens (see left screen in below image).

I suggest replacing the text buttons with tabbed navigation to reduce the amount of screen real estate that text buttons use. I would also replace "Tags" with "Saved" to reflect the earlier proposed "Save for Later" redesign. Adding a "Returns" tab would allow users to quickly view their returns in case they'd like to check them out again. Lastly, I suggest moving any status notifications (i.e. books ready to borrow, due dates) to the top of the screen for clear visibility and I would add text buttons for quick action (see right screen in below image).

(Left): Current Shelf screen. (Right): Proposed Shelf screen.

Explore Redesign

On Libby's current Explore screen (see left screen in below image), users find a list of text buttons to browse by. As far as I can tell, users cannot customize this screen based on what would be of interest to them. Personally, I don't have children or teenagers using my library account and I unfortunately am unable to read in Spanish or Mandarin.

I suggest that users would either be able to customize the Explore page based on their specific interests or see AI-recommended lists. In my redesign (see right screen in below image), I created a "Recommended for You" list that would curate specific titles based on my past browsing and loan history. I also moved "Popular Items" and "Available Items" to the top, since users would likely want to see these items first. It would also be useful to see new items based on my preferences as well as items by my favorite authors. Having a more customizable and/or AI-recommended browsing list would help users access content that's useful and of interest to them, and would likely increase the rate of return.

(Left): Current Explore screen. (Right): Suggested redesign of Explore screen.

Feature Adds

If I had more time...I would design several additional features:

  • A way to follow authors and be notified of their new or upcoming title releases

  • A social community (like Goodreads) where users can share favorite titles, ask for recommendations, and rate and review authors and titles

Final Thoughts

My intention is not to criticize the Libby design team, but to practice my design thinking in a time-boxed setting. Due to the time limit I gave myself, I didn't have time to speak with users or test my concepts. If I did a full redesign, I would be sure to do both, but for now, I used my first-hand knowledge to do a quick redesign based on opportunities and pain points that I've seen as a user.


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