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In the spring of 2012, I worked with three of my colleagues in the iSchool to design a mobile application for the site This project was completed in collaboration with Sam Ryan, Leo Basanez, and Karmin Mauritz for an independent project supervised by Jacob Wobbrock. We worked with one of the co-founders of Findings, who was able to provide us with some user research, as well as feedback on our design.


What is Findings? started in 2011 as a way to curate and share quotations from Kindle books, physical books, and the web. It was a sort of "Twitter for books" where you could follow other readers, see what people found interesting, and discover new books.


"With Findings, we are trying to do something that is dedicated explicitly to the task of curating quotations. In other words, it's not designed to be a broader publishing platform, or a more generic notebook app that happens to include quotes every now and then. It's a social commonplace book." - Steven Johnson, "Introducing Findings"


Findings, unfortunately, no longer exists, but this was still an interesting project and an exciting chance to work with a real client on a use case (mobile) they didn't currently support.


Design problem

Our goal for this project was to move Findings to the mobile space. But what was the best way to do that? Mobile application vs. a mobile-optimized website? If an app, which platform should we choose? Could transitioning the site to mobile become a way for us to address some of what we saw as shortcomings of the current site? The first stage of our project was formulating these questions and starting to come up with answers.


What we did

You can find a formal overview of the tasks we completed in our design specification (pdf), one of the final project deliverables.


Competitive Analysis and Requirements Analysis

We started the project by completing a competitive analysis of other applications that sat in the same space as Findings, such as other social reading sites, applications with stream-based interfaces, and mobile reading applications. We also performed an IA inventory of the current website. Together, these two tasks helped us put together an informal requirements document that we could refer to as we completed the project.


Sketching and Ideation

We sketched throughout almost the entire project, starting at the same time that we were completing various analyses and ending only when we were putting together our final deliverables. We sketched individually as well as collaboratively, on whiteboards. Here are some sketches out of my own notebook:

User Research and Usability Testing

We received some of the statistics that Findings had collected from their users and used them to create personas and scenarios to use throughout our project. We also performed various usability tests over the course of the quarter, using a paper prototype that was based on early wireframes and an interactive prototype that we created towards the end of the quarter. More detailed information about these activities can be found in our design specification (pdf).



We all started creating wireframes towards the middle of the project, to help visualize our most promising ideas. I used Axure and Powerpoint to create my wireframes. Here are some of the ones that I personally created:

Sam compiled a complete set of annotated wireframes based on the groups' work. This was one of our final deliverables for the project. You can look through these wireframes here: Annotated Wireframes (pdf).


Interactive Prototype

Karmin and I built an interactive prototype with Axure so that we could visualize the application's interactions. We also used this prototype for some of our usability testing.


Visual Design, High-Fidelity Mockups, and Presentation

Although not part of our original project proposal, we got so excited about our project that we decided to create high-fidelity mockups of some of our app's screens.

I also created a presentation (pdf) as part of an internship application that tells the story of our project, from start to (just about the) end.

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