Open eBooks is a digital library initiative aimed at providing access to a wide range of books to underserved children and families. As part of their initiative, they required a hybrid mobile application to facilitate access to their extensive collection of books. The primary goal was to design a user-friendly, accessible, and data-instrumented application that adheres to the organization’s goals and industry standards.

The product had not been created with specificity for its users, k-12 students. The applications were built from its sister software, Previously, its OS was shared with the libraries sister application, SimplyE. The audience is younger and has different needs, From login, structure to accessibility and inclusion those needs had not be realized.

My Role:

Senior Product Designer:
Wire- framing, prototyping, testing, brainstorming, ideation, problem solving and creation of the design system.

Project Date:

Nov 2021 – July 2023

The Problem:

You are tasked with enhancing the user experience of the Open eBooks hybrid app to improve user engagement and satisfaction. The app currently offers various features related to signing in, browsing, searching, accessing book details, managing books, and accessing additional information. Your goal is to identify areas for improvement and propose design solutions to enhance the overall usability and user satisfaction.

  • We learned through focus group testing that users wanted something that looked and felt that it was for their age group.
  • We also found multiple failures conducting a heuristic analysis.
  • Users also wanted a dark mode.


Enhancing the student experience by streamlining login, facilitating book discovery, and fostering active reading.

Accessibility Compliance:
Design the app in compliance with accessibility guidelines, particularly WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards, to support the organization’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) goals.

User Authentication and Management:
Enable users to sign in/out using multiple authentication methods, access agreements, privacy policies, and manage their data securely.

Browse and Search Functionality:
Allow users to browse the catalog, search for books, view details, and seamlessly navigate through different sections using intuitive interfaces.

My Books Management:
Provide users with the ability to view, download, read, and return books they have checked out across various platforms.

Book Details and Reading Experience:
Enhance the book details page with relevant metadata and suggestions, and optimize the reading experience by utilizing the current reading engine and allowing customization options.

Implement engaging and intuitive ways for users to discover books, moving beyond traditional lane navigation if possible.

Design Process:

Research and Analysis:
Conducted a thorough analysis of the provided Business Requirements Document (BRD) to understand project goals, user needs, and technical constraints. Researched industry standards, accessibility guidelines, and best practices in UX design.

Wireframing and Prototyping:
Developed wireframes and interactive prototypes using tools like Figma or Sketch to visualize the app’s structure, navigation flows, and key features. Iterated designs based on feedback from stakeholders and usability testing

Visual Design:
Created a visually appealing and consistent design language, considering the organization’s branding guidelines and accessibility requirements. Prioritized clarity, simplicity, and readability in interface elements.

Accessibility Testing:
Conducted thorough accessibility testing using automated tools and manual checks to ensure compliance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards. Addressed any issues identified during testing to improve the overall accessibility of the app.

User Testing:
Conducted usability testing with a diverse group of users to gather feedback on the app’s functionality, navigation, and overall user experience. Incorporated user feedback to refine and optimize the design iteratively.

Implementation Support:
Collaborated closely with development teams to ensure the successful implementation of the design, providing support and clarification on design specifications and interactions as needed.


Through a thorough evaluation utilizing Nielsen Norman Group heuristic analysis, a comprehensive review of all platforms was conducted. Accessibility reviews were integrated, and a visually appealing design was crafted to cater to a younger audience, characterized by brighter and more vibrant elements. User testing revealed a strong preference for seamless transitions between platforms.

Within the New York Public Library (NYPL) ecosystem, it was observed that SimplyE and Open eBooks shared a common development framework, leading to conflicts due to divergent user requirements. Challenges between the two applications hindered cohesive updates and adjustments specific to the different users needs.

To address this issue, the decision was made to separate the two applications and reconstruct them on a new platform. Open eBooks necessitated a web interface to support students with Chromebooks, prompting the adoption of a “Progressive Web App” approach for enhanced accessibility.

Ionic framework emerged as a valuable toolset for crafting native iOS and Android applications, alongside mobile-friendly Progressive Web Apps, leveraging familiar web technologies. The introduction of Ionic Capacitor, a cross-platform native bridge, enabled the transformation of any web project into a native mobile application for iOS and Android, aligning with the project’s goals of streamlining development and enhancing user experiences.

Reader settings: Android

User flow: Sign in

Heuristic evaluation

Sign in: Android

Sign out: IOS

Search books: IOS

Book details: IOS

Wireframes: Filtering books

Prototype: Refresh gesture


The results of our efforts included streamlining the applications into a unified system, consolidating three separate platform teams into one. We established a cohesive design system to replace the previous three disparate visual designs, eliminating user confusion when transitioning between platforms. As a significant outcome, we observed a remarkable 300% increase in readership.

The resulting Open eBooks mobile application met all project objectives and exceeded expectations in terms of usability, accessibility, and data instrumentation. Users can seamlessly access, browse, search, and read books, while also enjoying an engaging discovery experience. The application’s adherence to accessibility standards ensures inclusivity for all users, aligning with the organization’s DEIA goals. The successful delivery of this project demonstrates a commitment to user-centric design principles and collaboration across multidisciplinary teams.

Key Focus Areas:

  • Sign In and Settings Enhancement:
    • Evaluate the current sign-in process through Clever or First Book and propose any necessary improvements to streamline the process and enhance user convenience.
    • Explore additional settings options that could further personalize the user experience, beyond font size adjustment and bookmark syncing.
    • Design a more intuitive interface for users to agree or disagree to the End User License Agreement, ensuring clarity and ease of interaction.
  • Browsing and Searching Optimization:
    • Assess the current browsing and searching functionalities to identify any pain points or areas for optimization.
    • Propose enhancements to the filtering and sorting options to provide users with more precise control over search results and My Books list.
    • Consider alternative navigation methods or visual cues to improve the discoverability of books and facilitate seamless browsing.
  • Book Details and Reading Experience Improvement:
    • Review the existing book details page and reading interface to identify opportunities for improvement in usability and user engagement.
    • Suggest enhancements to the download and return processes to streamline these actions and provide clearer feedback to users.
    • Propose additional customization options or features to further enhance the reading experience, such as alternative reading modes or integration with external services.
  • My Books Management and Bookmarks Optimization:
    • Evaluate the current My Books section and bookmark management functionality to identify areas for optimization or additional features.
    • Propose improvements to the organization and presentation of checked out books and their metadata to improve user accessibility and navigation.
    • Explore ways to enhance the bookmarking experience, such as providing users with the ability to categorize bookmarks or share them across devices.
  • Other Actions and Information Accessibility:
    • Review the accessibility and visibility of important information such as software licenses, privacy notices, and acknowledgments.
    • Propose improvements to the accessibility and navigation of additional features such as reporting problems and accessing the search bar.
    • Consider ways to streamline access to related books and filter options, ensuring users can easily discover relevant content based on their interests.

Key Takeaways:

User-Centric Approach:
Prioritize user needs and feedback throughout the design process to create intuitive and accessible experiences.

Collaborative Development:
Foster close collaboration between design, development, and stakeholder teams to ensure alignment with project goals and technical requirements.

Continuous Improvement:
Iterate on designs based on user feedback and evolving industry standards to continuously enhance the user experience and drive success.