Seattle
Public
Library
App

Seattle Public
Library App

PROBLEM
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. 

SOLUTION OVERVIEW

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?

FEATURE I
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.
Design
Research

Design Research

PRIMARY RESEARCH
Stakeholder Interview
Patron interviews
Observation, Patron Interviews

SECONDARY RESEARCH
Online research
Heuristic Analysis
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.

Define &
Ideate

DESIGN OPPORTUNITY
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?

IDEATION

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.
TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY

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

Build & Refine

OVERVIEW
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:

Below is an overview of my building & refining process forthe 2 flows.

VISUAL GUIDELINE

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

What I
Learned

BE ORGANIZED
I learned to use methods like shared to-do-list and critique documentation to organize the team's progress and improve efficiency.

BE ASSERTIVE
Being able to assertively communicate as a team in a timely manner is significant, especially when there is a disagreement.

BE BOLD
I learned to value the courage to push for a good idea even if it seems to be challenging.

Where to improve

Where to
Improve

LESS BUT EVEN BETTER
During the original project phase, we had to build a comprehensive app  to meet the need of our stakeholder. I wish we were able 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.

BIGGER SCALE
If we were to have more time, I wish to dive deeper into how to scale the design to more branches.