UX Portfolio
Tanya Houseman - Data + UX Research, Design, Strategy
Data + Ux is kind of like peanut butter + jellly

Kindle Reading Club Concept App

Kindle readers can form in-app book clubs

As part of class assignment, our team wanted to increase Kindle customer engagement by introducing a social aspect to the Kindle app reading experience. Engaging user research, testing, planning, and prototyping, our team integrated a social experience into the Kindle app for iOS iPad and iPhones. There is a flow for readers to add friends to their Kindles, and a flow to form reading groups around a topic.

My Role

I was responsible for all components including project planning, user scripts, user interviews, heuristic analysis, competitive analysis, persona creation, user journey creation/design, icon development, Axure prototype, designing usability testing plan, usability testing, presentation, and project management.


User Research, Design Studio, Prototyping, Usability Testing, PhotoShop, Axure, PowerPoint, Presentation, Project Management, Design, Rapid Prototyping, Sketching


Axure, PowerPoint, PhotoShop

The Challenge

Many people enjoy having access to books through the Amazon Kindle app. The app provides a pleasant reading experience, but lacks the social aspect that many readers desire. People love to discuss what they’re reading! In this concept, we wanted to introduce a social aspect to Kindle, allowing readers to comment on and discuss the books they’re reading.

As part of class assignment, our team wanted to increase Kindle customer engagement by introducing a social aspect to the Kindle app reading experience. Engaging user research, testing, planning, and prototyping, our team integrated a social experience into the Kindle app for iOS iPad and iPhones. There is a flow for readers to add friends to their Kindles, and a flow to form reading groups around a topic.

Organizational Research

Researching Amazon’s strategy and using the Business Model Generator, we could see that Amazon’s main strategy revolves around the customer experience and that by adding a social element to the Kindle, Amazon would be reinforcing its values as an organization focused on customer service.

In Amazon’s 2014 K10 filing, it states:

“If We Do Not Successfully Optimize and Operate Our Fulfillment and Data Centers, Our Business Could Be Harmed. If we do not adequately predict customer demand or otherwise optimize and operate our fulfillment and data centers successfully, it could result in excess or insufficient fulfillment or data center capacity, or result in increased costs, impairment charges, or both, or harm our business in other ways. As we continue to add fulfillment, warehouse, and data center capability or add new businesses with different requirements, our fulfillment and data center networks become increasingly complex and operating them becomes more challenging. There can be no assurance that we will be able to operate our networks effectively.”

Competitive/comparative Analysis

The first thing that we wanted to do was to get an idea of what was currently out in the market so we understand the current capabilities of what is available and what was lacking in the reading app market. We researched Barnes and Nobles’ Nook, Apple’s iBooks, Amazon’s Goodreads, and, of course, Kindle. This showed us where the gaps were.

User Research

We conducted 6 user tests conducted July 20-21 with half women, half men, between the ages of 29 and 58. However, Amazon states that its user is female, between the ages of 54-58, which we corroborated with our research.

We found that our users were avid readers, (reading anywhere from 30 to 150 books per year), and had a desire to share their reading experiences with others. Some used to belong to book clubs, but no longer had the time to commit to them.

Affinity Diagrams

By grouping data points on a whiteboard to create an affinity diagram, we could form two persona types. The primary persona type fits Amazon’s main target; the secondary is a younger reader who isn’t interested in being social about his reading, but who will not be upset by any added social features. We made sure that any social features we added would not disturb the reading habits of our secondary persona.

The Solution

Meet Jane Rowland

The Primary Persona is Jane Rowland, 45-years-old, who loves to read for fun. She has belonged to book clubs before, but with work and two children at home, it’s difficult to find time to organize and attend book clubs. She would like that “book club” experience in a digital format, but currently no other digital readers or GoodReads provides a simple, seamless experience.

Our Secondary Person is Bruce Huckabee, 35 years old, who reads mostly business books. He is not interested in the social experience per se, but would like to share his highlights on business books.

Task Analysis + User Journey

The team often used a whiteboard for discovery of certain pathways the team needed to take with the design. Our goal was to make the path as simple as possible for Jane to accomplish her goals to communicate with her friends, who were linked on the app, while reading her book.

User testing also reinforced our efforts to keep simplifying the app. For example, many users we tested wanted to close the app by tapping outside the area, so we adjusted our design for that interaction.

User Flows + Sitemaps

The social interactions are launched from two static pages -- either a social menu on the Jane’s library page, or a simple dynamic panel from within a book that she has open. All social menus begin on the bottom menu (to not confuse Jane with the settings on the left-hand navigation, and to keep them visible while reading).


We started with a lot of ideas, and sketching was the perfect way to put them all out and discuss them.

We used a technique called Design Studio.

We discussed various ways to add a social component that would augment the reading experience

Over the Design Studio, we took key decisions for what the experience would be for this project. We decided we would focus on chat to help people discuss what they were reading without leaving the app. Also, chats would be grouped inside books. We figured that if there are already apps out there for chatting and since reading is something you do focused (no distractions), making a chat about a particular book would help that, when you stopped reading to chat, you wouldn’t get totally lost from what you were doing (reading).


From the paper sketches, we brought the wireframe into Axure.

We used Axure collaboratively using a Team Project. This way we could all work on it at the same time and keep track of changes as they were done with the version control built in.

We used Sketch to design the screens, imported them into Axure and there we worked with dynamic panels, dynamic states and animations to create the app prototype as closely to the real Kindle app.

Usability Testing 1

While much of this process happened with the higher fidelity version within Axure, the beginning stages of usability testing happened with our paper sketches. These paper usability tests were excellent because they helped refine our design earlier on while everything was that much more malleable. The results also helped validate our new social feature and design assumptions.

After nailing down the general design of the new features, we created paper sketches of the different pages to hone those ideas before bringing up their level of fidelity.


We used an iPad and Frameless, an iOS browser which has no chrome, using the project published via Axure’s Axshare platform. This allowed for an “app” feel to the prototype, even though it was web based.

Usability Testing 2

While testing the Axure prototype we found out some issues:

Friend list design treatment communicated that Jane you could  chat with people in real time.

Users wanted to touch outside the screen.

All users expressed a wish to do more with highlighting, such as being able to email their highlights to friends.

Objective success metrics

--Number of users

--Number of people using the group/friend features

--Frequency of app use

Subjective success metrics

--People highly satisfied with the product

--Users feel that the app helped provide them with the reading/group experience they were looking for:

Reading group was awesome

Great discussion

Easy to use

Text didn’t hinder discussion

Possibility of user recommending app to a friend

Improve the book chat experience

Friend list: Find the optimal way to get to friend list on the main window, but allow a way to find friends (gives the impression that it is a messaging/chat window)

Highlighting: Being able to easily share highlights and notes

Social on/off

Tapping outside the panel in the prototype

Putting chat and list of chats in the same window


P3_social Home-01.jpg
social friends profile-01.jpg
Jane Rowland Primary persona.jpg
Bruce Huckabee persona.jpg
Affinity Diagram.jpg
Critical  Questions.jpg
Kindle Journey Map.jpg

Kindle Concept Book Club Prototype