Reading Circle website app

Case Study

Reading circle app. Girl reading a book in her home.
Reading Circle
Project type
User Experience Design Case Study
project year

Looking for a rare or an out of print book? Or maybe you are looking to make space on your shelves and you want to find a good home for your books.

Reading Circle is a web-based classifieds app where users can buy, sell, and trade their books with other users through the Reading Circle marketplace. Sellers can ship books to buyers or arrange for pick up in safe public spaces or at local independent bookstores.

Project Duration
9 weeks
My Role
Research | UX Design
User Research / Surveys
User Personas
User Flows / Task Analysis
Journey Mapping
Information Architecture
User Testing

Problem Statement:

Users need a way to buy, sell, and trade rare and out of print books on a local level because there are not many online sites that allow for this niche of


Create a web based P2P marketplace app that facilitates e-commerce at the local level allowing goods to be shipped in various methods that is intuitive and creates a sense of community.

Design Thinking Process


Competitive Analysis

As with any project I begin with research and I especially love a good competitive analysis. By researching the competition, I was able to glean insights from the data I collect and make informed design decisions. This allows me to find any gaps in the market or the competitor's product.
For example, I may discover a feature that the competition is lacking and by implementing said feature I can target a different user demographic. However, in this case I discovered that people like a community they can trust and they can interact with online. The general feeling is that they feel more connected and can trust each other when making transactions.

Competitive Analysis Summary:
Based off of what I am trying to accomplish with the product, I targeted and reviewed 5 competitors with similar services. I was looking for pros and cons and from this information synthesized above I developed a strategy that will allow the product to accel where some of the competitors failed.

User Interviews and Affinity Mapping

I conducted some surveys and interviews looking for common themes and patterns to further help me understand my potential users. Not only does listening to potential users help design better products but it helps mitigate the risk of designing the wrong solution for users. Afterwards, I began sorting out the data to create an affinity diagram that allows me to identify key elements and themes. From these findings I was able to develop insights that help me identify pain points

Problems Based on User Types

During my research I found that there are not just one user but 4 different types and a different problem for each. The site will need to accommodate these users and meet their needs and goals.
Selling Books
  • How easy will it be to upload and sell my books? I don't want this to take forever and be difficult to do.
  • How do I know what price to charge for the books I am selling? Some are really old and first additions.
  • Do I have to mess with shipping fees or can I just meet them or drop it off somewhere?
Buying Books
  • How do I know I am going to get the right book? I need a certain edition.
  • What condition will the book be in? I once got a book that said great condition and it was in horrible shape.
  • What sort of delivery options do I have? If I am out and about I'd like to be able to meet and get the book that way.
Trading Books
  • What condition will the books being exchanged be in? I'd almost just buy it new at the store to be honest.
  • Safety is very important for me. Is there a designated safe place to exchange books?
  • I could always just use the library. I mean I'm not buying the book but I do have to return it when I am done.
Borrowing Books
  • I am good at taking care of things I borrow from my friends. How do I know other people will take care of my books?
  • I don't want to have to track down a person I loaned a book to and hassle them to get it back.
  • Say I loan a book to someone and it comes back damaged or with the pages folded, what then?


Buyers and Sellers want a platform that is easy to navigate and use.
Buyers and Sellers want to connect with other readers on a safe and secure platform.
Sellers want the option to drop off sold books for pick up at a secure location.
Users would like to know the condition of the books they are buying and have the ability to browse the ToC before buying.


Offer a platform that is intuitive and free of cognitive overload.
Create a platform that promotes community and core values.
Offer Sellers an option to drop off product with recognized partner brick and mortar bookstores.
Offer a feature that allows sellers to upload a ToC and additional pages for Buyers to review.


User Personas

One of the most important aspects of UX design is understanding the people using your product. I created  a few user personas based on the information synthesized from my previous findings to help me understand my users. I only chose these two because I felt they more closely represent the direction that the product is moving towards. These personas represent potential users and possible scenarios they may encounter while using the product.


User Journey Maps

A journey map is a visualization that helps us understand the process that a person using the product may go through to accomplish their goal. This allows me to create a visualization of a person's relationship with the product. From this I can gain insights of the whole experience from that person's perspective. This in turn, fosters a more user centric approach to the overall design which leads to a better user experience.

Information Architecture

Using all the data and the insights synthesized from the research, I constructed a site map to help further imagine the user's experience and help me with my wireframes and the structure of the site.

Prototyping and Design

Based on feedback and insights gathered from the generative research, I began designing my initial wireframes with Adobe XD. I based the wireframes off of features that would best address the needs of the target user audience with the help of user journey maps and information architecture.

High Fidelity Wireframes

View Prototype


Testing Phase - Validate and Determine

One of the main purposes of creating a prototype is to test the design decisions and save resources, I began to outline desired insights in a usability testing plan prioritizing the test goals for the primary user actions. Overall, participants were happy with the design and the ease of use. There were, of course, both positive and negative feedback that helped me explore opportunities that could improve the design and experience of the site.

Key Insights and Questions

Take Aways and Future Iterations

This project taught me that it is better to build smaller features that lead toward the bigger version of the product. By creating smaller deliverables more frequently, I have more chances to get user feedback on my ideas and then execute changes without spending time possibly going in the wrong direction. Future iterations would largely depend on the results from more robust user testing in a semi-structured setting to not skew any outcomes with bias or assumptions as to what the user's want vs need from the site.

Let's work together!

If you are looking to connect to a creative and driven UX Designer then you have come to the right place. I'm always open for discussion.

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