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Your local library app, reimagined.



The Problem

Despite its popularity among book lovers, the Libby app faces hurdles in maintaining long-term user engagement and retention. Users struggle with navigating its interface, efficiently discovering relevant content, and seamlessly syncing their reading preferences across different devices. Furthermore, the absence of personalized recommendations and interactive elements diminishes the overall reading experience, resulting in reduced user satisfaction and usage frequency. The current user journey lacks coherence, with users facing challenges during tasks like browsing, borrowing, and returning library materials.


I redesigned the Libby app to streamline navigation and make it easier to find and loan books from your local library so readers can enjoy the benefits of this public resource. I added and improved features like recommended books, filters, and clearer reviews to encourage user engagement and personalize user's reading experience.


September 2023 - October 2023


Researched and redesigned the existing Libby app to improve overall user experience.


Adobe Suite (Ai, Xd, Ps)

Reading Tailored to You

Struggling to find your next favorite book? Check out your recommended titles, hand-picked for you.

The days of struggling to find an available book that interests you are in the past. Now Libby collects data on books you're interested in and have enjoyed to suggest new titles that would be a good fit for your needs. 

Improved Filtering

Filter through your library's collection and find any genre or niche with ease.

Easily add and remove filters to see what combinations lead you to your next read. An improved searching experience will help you spend more time reading, and less time struggling to search.

Book Reviews

See what other readers think of a book before diving in, all easy to see within the app.

Want to tell the world about how amazing that new novel was? Need to rant about a nasty cliffhanger? Now you can leave reviews within the Libby app to help give people an idea of the quality of a book. Rate it out of 5 stars or write out your thoughts.


Why Redesign Libby?

I love Libby; I use it all the time. And as a user, I'm all too familiar with the struggle of trying to figure out which one of my books is loaned and which one is on hold. The interface is redundant and often frustrating to use, even for someone who is quite technologically literate and uses the app almost daily. But I know that the service Libby provides is a great one, and I don't want the app's issues to be the reason users don't get to experience the pleasure of being able to access their local library from the comfort of home.

Competitive Analysis

I began by researching similar apps to assess where what they were doing right and what could be made better.

I found that:

  • Each platform provides users with access to a vast selection of digital media through their local library membership, with RBdigital and Hoopla offering instant borrowing without waitlists.

  • All three platforms are limited by library subscriptions and licensing agreements, which may impact content availability for users.

  • Interface complexity may pose usability challenges, particularly for new users, with Hoopla being noted for its overwhelming content options interface.

There are many issues that both Libby and its competitors have in common that cannot be directly addressed in this redesign, like lack of availability or content. However, this competitive analysis highlighted some areas that I am able to focus on in this redesign, such as improving interface complexity and adding features other platforms are missing entirely.

Defining User needs

As a designer, I've learned the importance of not creating designs solely based on my personal experiences. I can't automatically assume that the challenges I encounter are shared by many others, making it worthwhile to design a solution. To understand the significance of potential usability issues, I chose to: 1) delve into the app store reviews of Libby, and 2) engage in brief, semi-structured interviews with friends and colleagues.

Online Reviews

I decided that online reviews would be the quickest way for me to understand the problem, so I turned to the app store to gain perspective from a breadth of users.

People's responses generally fell into one of two categories:

1. Why did they replace OverDrive with Libby? Now my books don't download.

2. I love the idea, but the app is very frustrating and confusing to use because of it's interface.

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While I can't help the fact that they discontinued OverDrive to only use Libby, I can look into the user's frustrations to try and better understand where they're coming from. A lot of users were upset by things not downloading or working offline like they used to, but it also came down to the fact that the app was not behaving in a way that users expected it to. They try to close a filter, and it opens the filter dropdown. They try to go back to the previous page, it takes them all the way back to the home screen. It's an incredibly frustrating thing to complete the steps you think are correct, just for the app to behave in an unintuitive way. Many reviewers also mentioned frustration in the app lacking things they considered basic features, like recommendations and intuitive filtering.

Interviews & Personas

Keeping this realization in mind, I wrote down a few points I wanted to gauge more user feedback on, and brought up the app to some friends and coworkers who I know use Libby. I wondered if people who use the app less regularly would have greater frustrations navigating the app than frequent users, perhaps attributing their frustrations to inexperience, rather than bad design.

My hypothesis was proven correct: people who use the app more often had become accustomed to the app's unintuitive interface, whereas less frequent users bonded over the confusing navigation.

I summarized all of the research and created the following personas to guide my design process.

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Design Goals

After analyzing user needs and identifying gaps in existing apps, I've outlined the overarching objectives I aim to accomplish through this redesign.

Personalized Recommendations

Implement an AI recommendation engine that analyzes users' reading history, preferences, and ratings to suggest relevant books and authors tailored to their interests.


Improved Filtering

Improve upon the existing filters feature in order to make the experience a more seamless one. Match the behavior of the UI chips in the app to how other filters behave in the real world. 


and Feedback

Allow users to rate ebooks and audiobooks they've borrowed directly within the app. Users could provide star ratings and written feedback to share their opinions and experiences with others.



Finding a Place for Recommendations

Right now, users can navigate to the "Search" tab, where they're presented with three options: 1) manually enter a search, 2) select from a list of suggested filters, or 3) select from their recent searches. Users can also go to the "Home" tab where they can see titles at their selected library, organized into distinct sections or using quick buttons for easy browsing. From my user research, I learned that users don't necessarily need all these options here. They'd much rather prefer to see recommendations tailored to their interests, rather than seemingly random books.

So, Where Should We Add To?

My first thought was to redesign the "Search" tab, since I imagined users would likely be navigating to the search tab when they're wanting to find a new book.


The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense to redesign the home page. As soon as a user lands on that page, they'll be met with a collection of recommendations for them to look through, giving them the option to start something new without having to go searching for it. Since users already struggle to find new books to read, this seems like the best approach.

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Home page gives generalized recommendations

Search to find specific books

Many users I spoke to spent a lot of their non-reading time browsing through the "available now" or "lucky day" filters trying to find a book that looked mildly interesting to them. Some also used "search", but only for searching specific books. As for the recommended categories, users mentioned that they didn't really care to look through those, as they were often not related to their interests.

Potential Designs

I considered two main possibilities for how to display the recommendations to folks. One way would highlight a carousel of titles as soon as users land on the home page, and another would be to add a recommended grouper that's always at the top of the page. Then I considered merging the search functionality along with the home page and recommendations, which made a lot more sense from an end user standpoint.

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I quickly made a wireframe of what I thought to be the best design to validate my decision through some A/B testing.

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Option A

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Option B

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Option C

Users gravitated more towards option C, appreciating the combined home and search functionality along with the smooth integration of the recommended books, without forcing it on them. 

Improved Filtering

Next, I needed to focus on how to improve the filtering interface. Based on my research, many users were dissatisfied with the current look and feel of the filters system, saying that it was confusing and never behaved in the way they expected.

Pinpointing the Exact Issue

When you go to search in Libby, you can either type in a book or author, or you can select a filter. If you select a filter, it cannot be removed unless you go back to the search tab. You can remove a filter if you add another one to the existing filter, but when you tap the 'x' to remove the filter, you get a hover bubble instead. Many users found the whole process very convoluted and filled with a lot of behaviors that you wouldn't expect, happening all one after another. 

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Filtered search

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Filters pane

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Applied filter

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Attempt to remove filter

Potential Designs

My approach to solving this problem was to make the filters meet the consistency and standards of the other digital products. To do this, I would make every filter have the 'x' icon within its container, and make that button remove the filter immediately if tapped, saving users time and confusion in the process. I made some quick wireframes to get user feedback.

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Filters pane

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Applied filters

I validated my design with users, and they agreed that it would be much more intuitive searching for books this way.

Ratings and Feedback

To give users even an additional way to both have their voices be heard and learn from their fellow readers, I want to add a feedback feature. This way, they can learn what others thought about a book before deciding to read it, which is perfect if you're torn between two books and can't decide which to read next. 

Hidden Ratings

Currently, Libby does have some ratings in their app. The ratings are tucked beneath a massive wall of text, and if you do end up finding them beneath there, you'll only be able to see what major publications rated the book, instead of readers like you. 

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Several paragraphs of quote reviews and summary

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Selected book

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Small reviews section

How to Increase Visibility

Tucking away the reviews so far down on a book's page makes it extremely difficult for users to benefit from them at all. In my redesign, I want to bring those reviews to the surface, giving them a significant place next to the title and author so user's can make informed book decisions. I created a wireframe of the concept to run it by users once again. They gave positive feedback, though some expressed concern about being too influenced by the ratings. I think it might be worthwhile to have an option in settings to toggle the reviews on and off so you don't have to see it if you don't want to. 

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Reviews on home tab

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Reviews on individual book

High-Fidelity Design

With all the different features in mind, I started diving into details about how I could link each new component together into a meaningful flow. Again, I used the user research I conducted earlier to guide my reasoning throughout my design decisions in the process.

As for the visual design aspect, I tried to stay true to the spirit of Libby while also modernizing the design. 

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Future Additions

The features added or revamped in my redesign are a great first step towards a better overall user experience for the Libby app. However, I think there are some features that, with additional research, may be worthwhile to add to the app.

A virtual book club or a social media aspect would help drive user engagement and give people a stronger sense of community. It would be easy to keep track of book recommendations from friends, or share a reading experience with a group of people.

I also think that adding some personalization options would help keep users interested too. Adding achievements, custom goals, and other gamification aspects to the app would help users keep their momentum going and give them a reason to continue visiting the app.


This passion project was a fun adventure for me. Getting to interact with other Libby users and empathize with their pain points, and learn about where we diverged as users, was exciting. I also love the challenge of getting to work with design constraints; trying to fit a brand new idea into an existing technology and making the flow feel organic and smooth is a great way to test my design skills.



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