I worked on Inkling's Product Design team as a User Experience Design Intern from September to December 2013. Although my responsibilities included assisting product designers with their projects or creating assets for them, I also led my own projects. One of these projects was the paginated library. It all began with a brief meeting with my manager, who said "I have a project for you. I don't know the details, but you should find out more from Greg."
I learned that Greg was our Product Specialist; he knew our users well because he worked very closely with them. Greg described the issues that our users were experiencing at length, and explained the typical workflow of our users to me.
Users waited over a minute for the page to load, then used cmd+f to search for their project. Also, they were confused by how the library would show two versions of a project with the same name, and that they were only were distinguishable by examining their URLs. I condensed these concerns into two main problems:
Slow Loading Times
Enterprise users with hundreds or thousands of projects and books had to wait over a minute for the page to load before they could start reading or working.
Difficult to Find Projects
Users relied on browser searching (cmd+f) to find a particular book. They were also confused by seeing multiple projects with the same name that could only be distinguished as different versions when the URL is examined.
Old Inkling Library
Dividing the results into separate pages will significantly reduce loading times in the library. Users will not have to wait to start working or reading because books and projects will load on demand instead of all at once.
Smarter sorting and search
In order to help users find the right books faster, we want to show the most relevant projects and books first. We will also implement a search which will return all relevant books or projects.
Instead of loading all projects at once, the page will only load ten of the most relevant projects at a time. To sort by the most relevant projects, I looked at the API to see what kinds of sorting was available. I decided that we would sort by "Last Published", which means that the most active projects will be ranked higher. Clicking the Load More button at the end of the page would load the next most relevant projects.
Publishing professionals use Inkling for both work, via our enterprise product Habitat, and for leisure. Users switch between the two products by clicking tabs - Habitat Projects and their Personal Library. It was important to name the tabs clearly so that users could easily differentiate work projects from their personal reading.
Adding a simple search engine that filters on project titles can help users find any projects or books that were added earlier on. This is a useful feature for professionals who may occasionally need to find something from a few months ago.
Although our efforts were primarily aimed at solving problems for professional users, I looked for ways to bring implement those improvements for our regular users as well. Despite the fact that most of changes did not apply to our regular users, I was able to make positive changes to the regular library as well.
Regular users would also benefit from searching their libraries. Most regular leisure readers did not have more than ten books, but rolling search out to them would provide an opportunity to recommend unpurchased, but relevant, books.