Building a Book Club Mobile Application 



project by pratt institute of design




Encouraging users new ways of making connections by drawing parallels across book-sections to discuss in groups online and meet in real life.

  • Our team at Pratt Institute, School of Design, was assigned with a client project to look at how busy-city-people are reading books nowadays.

  • Our project is to create a platform for users to read books individually - on their own time - to connect online for post-reading discussions, and then meet in real life.

  • We wanted to connect a digital space with local physical book stores and coffee shops in NYC.

  • This project was featured in the article 'DNAinfo Alums to Launch Block Club Chicago News'




DNAinfo was an online newspaper that focused on neighborhood news in New York City and Chicago.


Project Goals

Create a new mobile experience that allows users to view books at the bookstore thematically.

Users meet based on a book's online ratings and directs new users to the BookClub app to create groups with new users, based on zip codes and meet in real life.  



Our team saw the project through prototypes and we tested our solutions with potential users. However, in November 2017, the publication was closed down by CEO and owner Joe Ricketts after writers in its New York branch voted to unionize, a move to which Ricketts was opposed.

Sketching in Define Phase

Sketching in Define Phase



The DNA Info book club takes place through a digital platform where book club members share book feedback in a digital setting and also meet book club member in real life.

The BookClub App project is a collaboration between UI visual designers, a UX researcher (myself), sponsored by DNA, an online news service that focuses on neighborhood news in New York City and Chicago.  

My team and I looked at creating a book-club platform, while navigating NYC neighborhood book stores. We've interviewed friends, families, and neighbors at local shops. We also interviewed users at two book stores, the library, and three coffee shops. 

The combination of meeting in-person and using the book club mobile app, creates a great balance for readers to read on their own time and review books later in person with book club members.  



 Think of meets Audible app 

Meetup BookClubs book club meetings in NYC






  • The team collectively and individually wrote down ideas, pain points, and observations about the bookclub mobile application's brand identity. 

  • Spilling ideas on colorful post-it notes can birth new theories/suggestions that are only visualized when all ideas go on the wall. Fun times! 



Our team created the on-boarding process for new users who are looking to match with new meet-up groups 

bookclub wireframes.PNG
Part 2.png
wireframes user flow signin.png





In order to find out how users wanted to read, we asked these main three questions: 

  • How are readers reading in New York City?

  • What do users think of book clubs and social meetups?

  • Who can organize book-club read suggestions, and what incentives can we create for the event planner?

(Visit people at libraries - NYC coffee shops - bookstores (in digital and non-digital sections).

  1. Understand how users choose to explore books.

  2. Discover if there is an opportunity for thematic groupings of book genres, and if so, what themes would be most useful and add the most to value to a user’s experience.

  3. Explore what attribute types users are most likely to be interested in. This will inform the content taxonomy.

  4. An attribute type is a category that defines a grouping of content - ie “history”,”artist”,”time frame”, “country of origin”.


User Interviews Questions 


Book Store

  1. What brings you into the bookstore today?

  2. How do you find your reads?

  3. Did you read today or yesterday?

  4. What type of book was it?

  5. How did you think of the book?

  6. How many times a day do read?

  7. How many times a week?

Questions to ask at a local café:  

  1. Can you tell us more about your work, responsibilities, daily routines, etc?

  2. Can you tell us some background for this - how it all began?

  3. What is the situation at the moment?

  4. Who do you think are the most important, actors, partners, people, etc? Why?

  5. What are the most important practices or the best means?

  6. Why exactly these?

  7. What are the downsides or the biggest challenges?

  8. What factors have made it easier? Why?

  9. If you could change something what would it be? Why?

  10. What would you keep has it is right now? Why?

  11. How do you see the situation developing? Why is that?

  12. Is there anything else that you want to say, or something that I didn’t ask yet that I should know?


Location: Barnes and Noble Book Store


As one book store visitor explains, “it’s fun to compare completely different types of reads, yet book sections at this store traditionally focus on a single genre, section, artist, or time period in sections."

Individual in-person sessions with 7 users took place in various locations

(Barnes and Noble bookstore - Strand Bookstore - New York Public Library (NYPL)).

Each session lasted for 15 minutes which included a short briefing and an interview.

3 Participants & Locations

1 - Katherine, Barnes and Noble, African Art section

2 - Paul, Barnes and Noble, Fiction section

3 - Karen, Barnes and Noble, Best Seller section



Hello, I hope you are enjoying your day so far. I’m a student at Pratt working on a research project. I was wondering if I could take a couple of minutes from your time and ask you a few questions about books?

1 - I’m curious, what brings you here today to the bookstore?

2 - How do you pick your new purchases?

3- What sections inspire you the most?

4 - What’s your name?

Interview 1

Katherine likes to visit the bookstore at least twice a month. She has been living in NYC for most of her life. She is here today to pick out a specific read recommended by her friends. She feels like she needs to explore a new topic and brainstorm for her new project.

  • Name: Katherine

  • Age: 50s

  • Gender: female

  • Home: Manhattan

  • Relationship to the bookstore: Regular visitor, (twice a month)

Interview 2

Paul visited the bookstore today to buy a book by Steven King. He is interested in browsing before making a purchase. He likes to focus on one author when he visits. Sometimes, a book may catch his attention like a well designed book cover.  

  • Name: Paul

  • Age: 40s

  • Gender: male

  • Home: Queens

  • Relationship to the bookstore: Longtime visitor, comes in once every month

Interview 3

Kevin is a college student in Maryland where he lives. Kevin grew up in Taiwan. He is in New York for the first time, and has been browsing through Art, Architecture, and Photography, in particular, the Asian Arts collection. He thinks that this store has everything in one place, and enjoys seeing different books every time he is in the store.

  • Name: Kevin

  • Age: 20s

  • Gender: Male

  • Home: Maryland

  • Relationship to the bookstore: First time at this location.


One meeting held once a month through to have discussions about the book. 

  • Every book club member completes the assigned reading, leaves a book review comment in the chatroom

  • Comments can be added from other readers in a closed chatroom.

  • Only group members can read responses.

  • The goal is to create an ongoing conversation that sets up a structure for a monthly meeting in real life.

  • Prior to the real-life meeting, users will collaborate virtually, and compose one or two questions about the shared readings so they can prepare and expect what they will discuss.

  • Reading before the book-discussion meeting gives readers incentive to continue a fruitful conversation during the meeting.

  • Suggested gift-cards or free coffee to the book club event organizer.


Front-end Web Development Deliverable: 

Please, pardon the background css color, not the original deliverable. :-) 

Web app visuals and ui prototyping in html, css, and js.

Web app visuals and ui prototyping in html, css, and js.


Competitive Analysis

In this section, we audit and analyze existing websites and applications that host media content. We look at UI and IA structures 

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 1.54.03 PM.png

For full access to case study providing outcomes and results, feel free to contact me here