My initial research looked at ways to improve the onboarding experience and explore ways to drive activation and engagement. It was important that the signup flow presented customers with high-value features that were compelling enough to drive activation, without the flow becoming cumbersome and time consuming.
The design language of the product was, at this time, already well established, but it needed to be both maintained and evolved as new features were introduced into the product. I worked closely with David on improving the reading experience: both improving the overall readability as well as introducing a reading session UI that would provide quick access to the book's table of contents, font-size selection, library of highlights, and your main reading library.
During this phase of refinement work we began exploring ways to drive retention and engagement. We felt confident in the overall reading experience, and we had a solid user base that suggested people were finding value. But one key element of the reading experience remained absent: community. User research indicated that many of the users were active members in their local book clubs. This insight led us to iterate on a feature that would bring this experience into the product. We wanted to introduce a feature that still put the reading experience first, but brought in a nod to the traditional analog book club.
We introduced a feature that would allow users to leave comments on highlights: their own and others readers' highlights. The juice proved to be worth the squeeze. Engagement after four weeks was up 38%. In the ensuing weeks, engagement continued to tick up and we saw a 21% increase in new account activations.
Most of Readmill's users were reading multiple books at a time. User research revealed that these users valued the ability to have a steady stream of books to read, so ease and speed of book import was important. In addition, it was important that they be able to quickly view their location in each book they were reading; this often determined how often and in what order they worked through their reading list.
We designed a reading list UI that became our most playful screen, with each book in the list paying homage to the form of a tangible book. We attached a time spent progress indicator and a time left estimate to each book. These indicators gave the reader enough information to determine which book to jump back into.
The most important feature of the app, in my opinion, was hidden in plain sight: the typeface, Scala. A typeface was needed that could be both nuanced and utilitarian; it needed to be a delightful workhorse. Scala fit that bill. It had a range of variants, worked well at both large and small sizes, and, perhaps the most important, its serif and sans-serif skeletons were identical. It could be used effectively throughout the app for a wide array of purposes without sacrificing overall consistency of the complete reading experience.