What I discovered during user-tests is that browsing the app to choose a book was also an effort. We couldn't ask for double-effort, we needed to fix the app so that people could focus their energy on what matters to them: progress.
The "gym" metaphor was a great empathy tool to communicate the challenge to the other teams.
I was working in a duo with the iOS Developer, including him in design decisions right from the beginning.
I was also discussing with the CEO, the content team and the growth team as I believe UX needs to take into account all the disciplines.
As the only designer on the team, I did the User Research, UX Design and UI Design of the new app. I redesigned the app, simplifying the entire architecture and access to content.
Objective: continuous research → 5 user calls per week + 1 user-test per week
— I'm going to read a new book on my way home.
— Can you show me how you are going to do that?
— Sure, let me find something interesting to read.
After browsing for a moment in the app:
— Actually, this is too painful. I couldn't find something that caught my attention. I'm changing my mind, I'll listen to music instead.
After mapping the experience we could identify a crucial point in the Retention loop:
Instead, we have to help them complete the full loop as fast as possible. To do so, we chose to tackle the Discover step to start off.
The previous interface was asking people to first choose a category, which was creating silos.
They then landed on a book list with no other clue, other than its title, to make their choice. The app was not helping the user to figure out whether the book is right for him/her, which induces a high cognitive load.
Silos + obscure content result in frustration for the users, who are going back and forth between 3 levels (Category – Book list – Book presentation screens). Discovering and choosing a new book was perceived as a cumbersome experience.
In the new app, the content is shown upfront and reorganized into specific themes.
To better help users decide, the collections' topics are meant to reflect upfront the challenges they might be facing in their lives. Adding book covers is an essential visual clue that helps reduce the cognitive load while being visually entertaining.
I also simplified the app architecture: this allowed us to go from 4 to 3 items in the navigation bar.
The solution took into account the limited resources of an early-stage startup. The UI could be broken down into components, which were easy to build for the developer, and easy to manage for the content team.