Endbands attempts to ease the difficulties of keeping track of one's reading progress. A fulfilling reading habit, let alone a singular experience, can be difficult to cultivate, faced with the haste of a contemporary lifestyle. Endbands goal is to present a system where the movement between reading, documenting, and further engagements can happen fluidly, in a non-disruptive manner.
iPhone 5 template by Teehan+Lax.
Getting at the Problem
While often a simple behavior, the context surrounding the act of marking and tracking one's progress can quickly escalate. Within the flow of activity, it neither coexists alongside consuming the material, or the following engagement. As such, it exists as a transitionary event. Tracking should be a seamless and inclusive endeavor. When it arises organically, detracting from neither of the two anchoring events, it can cohesively bridge the two, coming to habitually represent the transition, instead of disrupting it.
Approaching the problem space with an emphasis on cohesion, the system attempts to present a solution that simplifies engagement costs, and streamlines recording activity. Interactions should be simple, fast, and increasingly intuitive.
The structure of Endbands is targeted at promoting a minimal-movement, asynchronous user flow. Two main interaction patterns arose to drive this design goal.
Slide to Record
First, in an effort to eschew textual entry, the primary recording interaction attempts to create a method of record keeping that could be accomplished with minimum effort and attention. The user can swipe down from the top of the screen to initiate recording a new reading event. As one swipes, an overlaid panel will follow along, providing context to how far one as moved down the screen, in addition to a number that counts up the farther the slide. This number maps distance swiped to page numbers. When the desired number is reached, the user simply releases and a new event is recorded.
Second, was a "just-in-time" methodology to content. Creating new collections, or "libraries" only occurs at the exact moment it would be needed, when wanting to place a book into the collection. The sentiment is reflected again in the system's approach to book details. When creating a new book, Endbands will presents default and empty values, but allows one to continue regardless of integrity of the data entered. To preserve momentum, the system will operate with the defaults until you desire to change them. It will even adapt it's approach to page counting should the user care about a book's total pages or instead leave the detail blank.
Through the course of Endbands design phases, several incidents prompted significant evolutions, driven by iterative paper-prototyping and usability testing.
In initial designs there was only a main library and an archive. While this made sense earlier, in the context of current and past readings, it resulted in a considerable amount of scrolling through books and a lack of knowledge in the location of a specific title. Both would result in unnecessary expenditures of time and effort to switch between books. With further consideration, it made more sense to provide the user the ability to introduce as many lists as desired. Not only would it prevent a constraint on the user, but better map to personal organization strategies, potentially decreasing retrieval times.
Counting Page Numbers
Reception of later prototypes brought to attention an issue in the misalignment of system and user mental models regarding page numbers. Most users will not think in terms of the total pages read, but instead the page at which they ended. A model of a current page intrinsically requires a knowledge of total pages, something that the system had initially attempted to avoid in the goal of simplification. However, the drastic impact such an unintentional disconnect could have demanded a solution. This lead to the ability of the recording slider to contextually shift based on the user's care for a book's total pages. Leaving the page count blank would count pages straight, declaring a total pages would switch to counting pages based on progress through the book.