Seattle Public Library
App & Outreach System

An app and outreach system that aligns with the Seattle Public Library's mission of serving communities without direct access to technology

PROJECT TYPE
UX/UI
Duration
4 Weeks
Tools
Sketch
Illustrator
Flinto
After Effects
Teammates
Maygha Puri
Sarah Strickler
My Roles
Information Architecture
UX & UI Design
Microanimations
Video
Problem
People without access to technology (i.e. senior living communities and homeless populations) have difficulty discovering and accessing the library's resources and programs.
response
We designed an app for both patrons and librarians. Patrons can use the app to discover and keep track of what the library has to offer. Librarians can use it for their outreach services by creating profiles and curating library resources for patrons without smartphones or internet. They can share these resources with patrons via a personalized print-out.
PATRON + LIBRARIAN

DISCOVER PAGE

A personalized feed for discovering books, resources, and library events.

PATRON + LIBRARIAN

RESOURCE TILES

When a user clicks into a resource tile, they are given information about that resource and its availability. They may take actions such as bookmarking, putting it on hold, or signing up if it is an event. Tiles are color coded for quick identification.

Resource Tile Expanded
PATRON

BOARDS

From the resource tiles, Patrons can add resources to specific "boards" they have created.

Adding resource
Lily's Learning Plan
librarian

LEARNING PLANS

Likewise, librarians can create profiles and add resources to curated "learning plans" they have created for individual patrons they are helping.

librarian

PRINTABLE PLANS

Librarians can print the learning plans that are generated in PDF format for patrons who cannot access mobile or web platforms. They can receive these personalized print-outs from librarians through existing library outreach programs and events.

PATRON + librarian

CONNECT

Patrons can connect with their local librarians if they have questions through the “connect” feature in the app.

Patron
Librarian

VIDEO

Context

Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library has a myriad of resources and programs that benefit individuals and the community. However, many often do not know about these resources available or how to access them. This is especially true for those who have limited access to technology.

The mission of the SPL is to "bring people, information, and ideas together to enrich lives and build community". For this four week Interface Design project, our team wanted to design something that aligned with their mission and could be integrated into their existing framework to increase access to resources for these people.

Inside SPL Central Library
Process

Research Methods

Secondary Research

First, we did research on what the SPL offers and how they currently work. We looked at existing programs, services, locations, demographics, resources, and the means of accessing them. We also examined their website and its information architecture to understand how the resources were organized and presented.

Information Architecture of SPL website

Contextual Inquiry at Homeless Shelter

Our team visited and spoke with counselors and individuals at a local homeless shelter to understand barriers to resources and their perception of current library services.


I love to draw, but I want to learn how to animate online. It would be cool if someone could teach me.

A man at the shelter who wants to learn how to animate

Interview with SPL Regional Manager

To understand the needs of  patrons and librarians, we interviewed the SPL regional manager to understand their workflow and how their programs and services run. We organized the information we got from the interview into an affinity diagram.


In our experience, the most effective way to reach these communities with high needs and barriers to access is in person visits and hands on help from library staff.

Affinity Diagram from Interview with SPL Regional Manager

Key Insights

1

With an abundance of resources, many key pieces of information are lost and need to be brought to light with a new hierarchy.

2

The library prioritizes learning and accessibility. Outreach programs already in place could be used to distribute personalized resources and spread information.

3

Access to information should not be presented in just one medium, it should be accessible online + offline and available to those who cannot easily make it to the library.

Design Principles

Accessible + Inclusive

Staying true to a core SPL value, individuals from all walks of life should be able to easily use this platform.

Personal

Individuals should be able to fulfill their own specific wants and needs in regards to the process of accessing the library's vast resources.

Learning-oriented

Resources are organized in a way that makes them easy to digest and find. Opportunities for learning are simplified by making learning new things a primary function of this platform.

User groups

Librarian

Give librarians a platform to connect with patrons and share resources for those with and without access to technology.

Patron

Give patrons of the library the opportunity to easily and independently explore and collect resources on topics they are interested in.

Use case examples


Librarian + Community Member w/out digital access

A librarian does outreach in homeless camps and wants to find a way to share resources with someone who doesn't have digital access.

Parent + Child
A mom wants to find storytime classes for her kids, and cooking classes for herself.

Learner
A senior citizen who loves to take Skillshare classes and learn about new things. He would like to create learning plans for himself and know about upcoming classes and workshops.

Ideation

The main challenge for us was designing an app for people who do not have access to it which seemed paradoxical at the time. However, we learned that librarians already play a huge role of being a bridge for patrons to access resources and programs. We realized that if our design helps Librarians do their jobs, it could help them help the people they serve.

How might we design a mobile service to connect people (both with and without access to technology) to personalized resources?

Style Experimentation & Task Flows

First we each individually created an initial style guide and basic user task flows so we could bring the best of our ideas together. We each had a specific user type to think about.

UI Ideation

After we decided on some key functions of our app, we individually designed some low-mid fidelity interfaces so we could present to each other what we each envisioned for layout and style.

Information Architecture

Based the ideas from our conversations and brainstorming sessions, I made this information architecture diagram for our app so we could all be on the same page of what functions and interfaces were necessary.

Teamwork makes the Dream work

We then met together and spent hours working together to unify our ideas and design our interfaces at the library (of course).

Visual Language

For our typeface we use Mercury to maintain the bookish aesthetic of the library while using Proxima Nova to keep the app's UI clean and modern. We also pulled from the navy blue SPL currently uses and turned it into a turquoise to add some personality. We used complimentary coral and yellow colors to make the brand appear more friendly and the app more engaging.

A key characteristic of our design is the tiles. Our tiles have rounded edges by 5px to appear friendly but still professional. These tiles are meant to showcase the library's resources and events and they are color coded on both the app and the PDF plans.

"Final" Interfaces

Patron App

Librarian App

Reflection

If I were to continue...

One of the main challenges to this project was not having access to actual users who use the SPL's services. Part of this was due to time constraints with the fact that this was a short four-week project, and part of it was that our class focused more visual interface design rather than user experience design. Nevertheless, I am proud of our team for going beyond what was expected, prioritizing the needs of users who aren't considered nearly enough, and to come up with a meaningful design that aligns with the SPL's mission and work.

If I were to continue working on this project, the next step would be to conduct usability testing with librarians, real SPL patrons, and individuals without digital access. I would also test and get feedback on how effective the printable PDF plans would be and continue iterating based on that feedback.

Takeaways

An important lesson that I learned during this project was to think beyond just screens and interfaces, and to focus more on the people and what their needs and tasks are. Because the given scope of our project was to design mobile interfaces, I initially thought that tackling the challenge of helping people without digital access with a digital product was absurd. I am thankful to my team and our research process to help me now know otherwise. Although we weren't certain that we would be successful tackling this challenge within this scope, I am glad we didn't limit ourselves and followed where our research led us.
See the full case study here
CASE STUDY PDF