Digital Reading Design


How can we improve the digital reading experience?

One of the largest opportunities and challenges we had at Pearson in creating a meaningful digital student experience was the preference among students for physical texts over digital texts. Students struggled to embrace digital reading experiences because of the lack of visual and tactile cues that give them a sense of place and allow them to easily navigate a text. In this project, we endeavored to explore that problem.

My role: UX research, Workshop facilitation, Design sprint coordination and testing, concept design

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Multi-method foundational research

Once we met with our design and product stakeholders and agreed on our questions, we set out to conduct research to better understand the problem and identify opportunities for design. Working with a team of UX researchers and learning designers, I triangulated the data we gathered from contextual inquiry, diary studies, interviews, surveys, and literature reviews and identified key findings:

1. Learners struggle with sense of place in a digital book as they do in a physical book, due to a lack of visual and tactile cues.

2. Students use landmarks to navigate a book, such as pictures, numbers, or notes, and have difficult navigating and wayfinding in a digital book.

3. Students struggle to estimate the amount of work they have when using a digital book, and are better able to assess the amount of content contained in a physical book by scanning and feeling the pages.

Collaborative design workshop

Together with UX design, learning design, and product, I co-facilitated a workshop to think through these problems. Based on our primary persona (the busy adult student), we created journey maps, brainstormed solutions, and prioritized areas of focus for the upcoming design work:

  1. Sense of place in a text

  2. Sense of progress through a assignment

  3. Estimating and planning work


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Design sprints

Over the next two months we iterated on design solutions through rapid, one-week design sprints. We spent the first part of the week exploring different concepts, and came together to decide what to test with students. By the end of the week, we had results from testing to refine our concepts and plan for the next design iteration. We managed this through constant collaboration and communication, both in our war room, but also on Slack, as ur team was split across the U.S.


Iterative testing and co-design

Our weekly cadence allowed us to test early and often throughout the design process. We began with paper prototypes and allowed the student participants to scribble corrections on our designs and contribute their own ideas.

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In this process, we discovered and honed in our our solution: The Content Strip. The content strip is a solution that allows the user to see all pages of a chapter in a drawer. The user can enlarge the drawer so that images, videos, page numbers, etc. are clear. The user can then flip between these multiple locations.

The drawer is triggered from the floating CTA in the margin.

The drawer is triggered from the floating CTA in the margin.

It defaults to quick scan nav mode.

It defaults to quick scan nav mode.

The content strip magnified.

The content strip magnified.