Library Catalog

UX Design | Design Challenge


Creating a modern universal library catalog experience.

  • Project Type: Design Exercise for Interview
  • Project Duration: Three Days
  • Role: User Experience Designer
  • Client: Undisclosed Startup
  • Tools: Sketch, Pen & Paper


The Context

This was a solo design exercise to showcase my design process for a job interview at an undisclosed startup. During this exercise, I was tasked with redesigning any existing interface by adding, updating, or removing features. Specifically, I focused on redesigning a library catalog interface that has been used globally by other libraries in the world.

The Challenge

Library catalog interfaces are used to find physical books, articles, and a variety of other resources online. Every library has their own unique catalog system, but what if you were looking for a specific item and wanted to compare the availability of this item across different libraries? I’d suggest using WorldCat, a union catalog that itemizes the collections of over 72,000 libraries to create a massive catalog of data. Despite solving my usability problem of being able to compare materials across multiple library catalogs, WorldCat remains outdated by lacking a mobile version. My challenge, was to conceptualize how a mobile interface would look and bring the user experience of the desktop version to a mobile setting.


The desktop website.


Evaluating the Navigation

Since this was a design exercise, I knew that any research on users I could conduct in the early stages was quite limited. Therefore, I began by creating a user flow of the desktop version of the website to orient myself. Specifically, I was interested in determining the flow of how users navigated the website when searching for an item using the catalog. How many steps did this take? Was it easy or difficult to get to the goal state? What visually stood out on each page to get me towards the next step(s)? All these factors were important because they would allow me to prioritize what information needed a strong call-to-action when designing the mobile interface.



Creating Wireframes

With the user flow completed, I began to create wireframes of the mobile interface. I focused on developing wireframes of the pages that were critical to the task of searching for a item in the library catalog. These were the search page, the search results page, and the item page. I sketched these out via pen and paper.


Prototyping a Mockup

A more developed mockup was created to showcase an example of a visual style guide that could be used and bring the ideas of my low-fidelity wireframes to life.


What I Learned

Although I didn’t land the gig, I did learn how to design under new constraints and improved my ability to justify my design choices with stakeholders and product managers. As a designer just beginning my career, I also learned that design exercises are less about the final product, but rather about being able to showcase the reasoning behind every design choice you committed. For any future interviews, I plan to conduct small guerilla usability testing to validate my designs prior to an in-person interview and making the design exercise a more collaborative process with the hiring team.