Patrons of the Seattle Central Library (SPL) are oftentimes amazed by its beautiful architecture and abundance of resources. However, given the complexity of architecture and resources, finding resources in the library’s physical space is difficult and confusing.
In order to address this problem, we designed a mobile app to help the patrons of the Seattle Public Library easily explore and locate its variety of resources in the library space.
Duration: Feb - Mar 2019 6 Weeks Team: Sara Tieu | Peter Mach Contribution: Research, Visual System, Map Feature/flows
Mobile App Design
How might we design a mobile app to help patrons of the Seattle Public Library (SPL) explore and easily locate resources in the physical library space?
SEARCH FOR RESOURCE
Patrons can search for a specific resource using the universal search bar on the home page.
FEATURE II: NAVIGATE TO A RESOURCE
Patrons can navigate to a specific resource or space. They will be able to customize the route by adding stops and selecting access options. To help patrons navigate across different floors, the map can also switch flat view and 3D view.
FEATURE III: EXPLORE THE LIBRARY SPACE WITH MAP
If the patrons isn't looking for a specific resource, they can also explore the entire library space virtually with the "Map" feature. They can click into the spaces to learn more.
FEATURE IV: VIEW YOUR LIBRARY ACCOUNT
With "My Library", the patrons can take a look at their library account status anytime.
Observation, Patron Interviews
Existing product sitemap
Analogous product analysis
RESEARCH INSIGHT I
Navigating around the Central Library space can be challenging, especially for first-time patrons.
RESEARCH INSIGHT II
There are a variety of valuable resources in the Central Library, but it is hard to locate a specific resource in the physical space.
Online Research: Each area of the library building has an assigned function, or contain only a specific type of resource.
On-site Observation: Because of the space-functionality connection discussed above, we had to travel back and forth to different areas in order to locate all the resources/information we were looking for. Above are photos of the brochures we gathered all over the library.
Current Website Sitemap: The current website of the SPL lists out all available resources but doesn’t show where they are in the physical space.
RESEARCH INSIGHT III
Besides the Central Library, other smaller public library branches also face similar challenges.
Librarian Interview: The librarians in smaller branches often need to direct patrons to the Central Library for resources. They encountered difficulties giving patrons directions to help them locate the resources in the Central Library.
Patron Interviews: The patrons still find it hard to locate resources even in the smaller branches.
Based on research, we identified our design opportunity:
How might we design a mobile App to help the patrons of Seattle Public Library explore and easily locate resources in the physical library space?
With the design opportunity in mind, we moved forward to ideation. We experimented with various methods to display the available resources online, visualize the library space, and provide visual aids for navigation.
Meanwhile, we also look into the technical feasibility of our idea. Indoor navigation is usually supported by bluetooth beacon technology. The beacon broadcasts signal in a general area and devices with the associated app can receive location information. Each beacon is about $40-$60.
Explanation of Indoor navigation powered by Bluetooth Beacon. Image sourced from kontakt.io.
Build & Refine
After ideation, we decided on 4 main features for our app: Home, Map, Help, and My Library. I was responsible for designing the 2 main flows of the app:
- Exploring the library space in general through our 3D map
- Navigating to a specific resource in the library space
Below is an overview of my building & refining process forthe 2 flows.
The first step of prototyping was to create a visual style guideline that is shared across our app. The visual style aims at creating a calm, open and clean personality while also honoring the original branding of the library.
TEST & ITERATE
After setting the visual guideline, I created prototypes and iterated the design based on insights from user testing.
What I learned
I learned to use methods such as shared to-do-lists and critique documentation to organize the team's progress and improve efficiency.
I matured my skill to assertively communicate with my team in a timely manner and address disagreement with mutual compromise.
I gained the. courage to give bold ideas that seem to be challenging but potentially fruitful a try.
Where to improve
LESS & BETTER
The initial project goal was to propose a comprehensive overview of the library app due to the demand of our stakeholder. However, I wish to focus on optimizing the 2 main navigation flows and really push for the details such as edge cases, affordance and transition.
IMPROVE MAP DESIGN
I wish to conduct more user testing and iterate on the map design including the label and graphics.
EXPAND THE SCALE
If we were to have more time, I wish to dive deeper into how to scale the design to more branches.