Study 1: Semi-Structured Interview
Author: Leo Vogel, Senior UX Designer, [email protected]
While physical books still outsell ebooks ($2 billion for ebooks compared to $22 billion for physical books), digital reading is still a massive market with advantages over physical books—Amazon alone was selling over 1 million ebooks per day in 2016 according to analysts. As an ebook reader myself I have found the current Kindle app, and the ebook app marketplace in general, to be lacking support for affluent power-users like myself.
The largest pain point that I have identified is organizing/browsing large ebook collections/libraries.
I want to learn about the digital reading habits of adult readers with libraries of significant volume (100+ books)—particularly how they like to organize and browse their ebook collections and any pain points they have in this area. I want to understand the general size and content of ebook libraries, what opportunities and needs aren’t being met by the current marketplace, and what e-reading apps adults prefer to use and why. I also want to understand if adult readers would pay for a premium e-reading app.
Understand the user, who they are, their reading habits and if they would be interested in buying an e-reading app that offered a superior ebook user experience.
- What library organisation and browsing features are needed by readers?
- What are users’ current paint points for book organising?
- What non-organisation pain points do users have?
- How many books do users actively read in parallel?
- Which device do users read on most often? (iPad, iPhone, Mac, E-ink device)
- Do users switch between an ebook, physical book, and/or audiobook when reading a given title? If so, why?
- How many ebooks does a reader have in their library?
- Where and when do users most commonly read ebooks?
- How do users feel about existing ebook apps?
- Why do users read ebooks?
- 30-minute semi-structured interviews via video call to gather in-depth qualitative data
- The researcher will use the interview script as a guide and ask follow-up questions based on answers from the users
- 5-10 participants
- Adult readers who:
- Have paid for a mobile app or mobile app subscription in the past year (disposable income)
- Have sizable ebook libraries; more than a few dozen
- Read on mobile or tablet devices
- To recruit participants I will reach out through my social circle; additional recruitment will be done via social media and online ebook communities (such as Reddit and MobileRead) as needed
- Do you read Fiction or Nonfiction ebooks? (screening out readers who only read magazines or comics which are not commonly read in Kindle)
- No (screened out)
- Approximately how many ebooks are in your digital library (select the option that’s closest to your collection)?
- Dozens (screened out)
- A couple (screened out)
- Have you purchased a mobile app or app subscription in the past year that cost $5 or more?
- No (Screen out)
Potential Participant Sources
- Udacity Students
- MobileRead users
- Personal Social Network
Notes: [italicized brackets] are used to document what I want to learn from each question, the motivation/rationale
My name is Leo. Thank you very much for participating in this study. I am currently working on a project related to reading ebooks. I want to learn more about your experience with reading digital books on your phone and tablet. This interview will take about 30 minutes. If you want to leave the session or take a break at any point, please let me know. Do you have any questions before we start?
Do you mind if I record this session for note-taking purposes? The recording won’t be shared with anyone and is only for my reference.
Warm-up Questions [Build rapport. Start with easy questions to get to know the participant]
- What book do you most recommend to others?Motivation: get to know more about the user through their interests
- Why do you read ebooks instead of physical books? (10)Motivation: Learn what features are important to focus on first.
- Which devices and apps do you use to read ebooks? (5)Motivation: This helps determine what [power] users want in an ebook app and what’s most important to them in their decision on which to use.
- Kindle, Apple Books, Marvin, Google Books, Kobo, Nook, Others?
- Have you tried other apps before?
- Do you have a primary app that you read in? If so, what about that app made you pick that over one of the others you’ve tried?How many ebooks are in your primary reading app? (7)Motivation: Know how many ebooks the typical “power user” ebook reader has in their library. This is important when considering design decisions and to tell the developers for performance.
- In general, how do you feel about your current ebook apps? (9)Motivation: General probing question to learn what they like and don’t like about their current app of choice and why.
Probe into needs and behaviors
- When do you read ebooks? How often? (8)Motivation: Learn about reading habits of potential users. Users may want to organise books by time of day (i.e. nonfiction during day and fiction during night)
- Where do you most commonly read ebooks? (8)Motivation: Learn about reading habits of potential users. Users may want to have books organised so that they have a collection for travel and a collection for reading at their office (i.e. education at office and leisure reading for vacations)
- At home, on a commute, when traveling?
- How do you organize your ebooks? (1)Motivation: Learn about categorization features users will need
- What features do you use to organize your books? (1)Motivation: Learn about categorization features users will need
- What features do you use to browse your books? (1)Motivation: Learn about features are important to users
- Is there anything that frustrates you about how your ereading apps let you organise or browse your books? (2)Motivation: Probing question to discover pain points that may be addressable
- Can you give me any specific examples/scenarios?
- Is there anything frustrating about your ereading apps that is NOT related to organising and browsing? (3)Motivation: Probing question to discover pain points that may be addressable
- Note taking, reading, sharing, discovering, bookmarking, etc?
- How many books do you actively work on reading at the same time? (4)Motivation: Important to consider when designing a Currently Reading feature as part of organising/browsing
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insights. Your answers will help me
design a better ereading app. If you have any additional thoughts and comments, I would love to hear about them at any time. I can be reached at [email protected] I hope you have a wonderful day!
Study 2: Survey
In my previous study, I learned that avid readers often read multiple books in parallel and have difficulty browsing their large digital ebook collections. These are problems the design team can create solutions for. Additional data may be helpful to the design team in prioritising features.
This study focuses on better understanding users needs related to building vocabulary during
work breaks, as well as better measuring the extent to which these needs are held by the
majority of language learners.
- How can Kindle provide the best tools for browsing and discovering a user’s existing ebook library?
- Which recommendations to address the first studies discovered problems are most useful to users?
- What library sorting and filtering options would be most commonly used by avid readers?
Method & Recruiting
- Use surveys to collect data from at least 385 avid ebook readers
- Test survey questions with 5 friends or family members who read ebooks
- Display survey to users on Facebook, as an ad, who meet recruiting criteria:
- Have more than 100 ebooks in their Kindle library
- Read on their phone or tablet devices
- How many ebooks are in your Kindle app? [Single Choice]Qualifying users for study
- I don’t use the Kindle app on my phone or tablet
- A couple
- How do you feel about the Kindle app? [Likert Scale, 1/very negative - 5/very positive]Measure avid reader satisfaction with Kindle to validate if there are notable pain points
- Which of the following potential new features would you use most in the Kindle app? [Likert Scale]Helps prioritize recommended fixes
- Support for multiple active books
- Search your library for books matching your current mood
- Filter your library by genre
- View book blurbs with one tap from library view
- Smart home page with reading suggestions from your current library
- Support for multiple reads in a single account/library
- Show random book from my library
- Genre and individual book control over chapter and book progress indicators
- How many books do you typically read in parallel? [Single Selection]This will help determine how many active books need to be supported in the app
- 6 or more
- Which library FILTERS would you use most frequently? [Likert Scale: 1, Not at all - 5, Very Often]This will help prioritise the filter interface so that the most common filtering options are easiest to access
- Published Year
- Year added to your library
- Amazon Rating
- GoodReads Rating
- Number of Ratings
- My Rating
- 3 Stars or Better
- File Type: PDFs, EPUB, Mobi, Audiobook
- Downloaded / Not Downloaded
- Unread / Read
- Source: Purchased / Personal Documents / Amazon Prime / Samples
- User Created Collections/Folders/Shelves
- Reading List
- New / Not New
- Opened Books / In-Progress
- Unopened Books / Not Started
- Other: _____
- Which library SORTING features would you use? [Likert Scale: 1, Not at all - 5, Very Often]This will help prioritise the sorting interface so that the most common sorting is easiest to access
- Date Last Read
- Date Added to Library
- Date Published
- Amazon Rating
- GoodReads Rating
- My Rating
- Number of Ratings (total across Amazon and GoodReads)
- Author, Title
- Author, Publication Date
- Author, Series, #
- Series, #
- Other: _____
- What is your age? [Single Selection]Assumption: There may be a correlation with age and the number of books in library and/or the number of active books a user reads. Older: larger library, less active books. Younger: smaller library, more active books.
- Under 18
- Above 65
- Do your friends and family come to you for technology purchasing advice? [Single Choice]This will help us determine if avid readers are also influencers in their social circles.
- No, neither
- Yes, FRIENDS only
- Yes, FAMILY only
- Yes, friends AND family
- Approximately how much of your library are Amazon purchases vs Personal Documents? [Single Choice]This will help us learn if avid readers who use Kindle are also valuable customers in terms of their purchases
- 100% Amazon Purchases
- 75% Amazon Purchases / 25% Personal Documents
- 50% Amazon Purchases / 50% Personal Documents
- 25% Amazon Purchases / 75% Personal Documents
- 100% Personal Documents