Scribd Discovery
Re-imagining how people discover their next read.
Research · UX · Design thinking · Web · Native Apps
Scribd is the best app for reading books, audiobooks, and more. With a catalog of over a million titles, Scribd has something for everyone no matter what they're looking for all for the low monthly price of $8.99.

Our challenge was to re-define how our users discovered new content across web, iOS, and Android. Scribd's catalog includes millions of titles including books, audiobooks, comics and sheet music. This huge catalog is the product's key value proposition, but it also made browsing for new content tedious.

We focused on helping people find their next read with an emphasis towards interest based browsing and curation from trusted public sources. We also added magazine & newspaper content to fulfill a craving for short form reading.
My Role
I helped create our UX strategy, content strategy, concept prototyping, user flows, wireframes, and some visual designs. This project was as cross-platform as it gets. Every feature was designed and shipped for responsive web, iOS, and Android.

Nothing would have been possible without the contributions from so many people and teams. Thank you to Chetana Deorah, Lily Dwyer, Jenny Kolcun, Angela Hsieh, Loren Heiman, Mike Lewis, Sabeen Minns, and so many more folks from Scribd.
Design Sprint
Early on in this initiative we didn't have a strong hypothesis for how to improve discovery in our product. We had some ideas for smaller growth experiments that we could run, but we wanted to understand how we could holistically improve the user experience.

To facilitate idea generation, my manager organized a design sprint. We brought together our leadership team along with a few other key stakeholders for five full days of shared context building, idea generation, storyboarding, and rapid prototyping. We followed that up with three full days of user interviews to validate our new hypotheses.
Our Hypotheses
1
Users want to broaden their knowledge by going deep on topics they are interested in..
2
Users want to consume content with various types, as opposed to being fixed to one content type.
3
Users want a human centered experience to help them find new things to read in addition to algorithmic recommendations.
Concept Prototypes & Research
Based on the three hypotheses, we designed two opposing concept prototypes to test. Through these prototypes, we explored different ways that users could be motivated to read more, discover new content, immerse themselves in an interest, and meet reading goals. We rounded out our design sprint by testing our concept prototypes with 6 user interviews.
Not an actual video. Screenshot of my team and I setting up for remote research
Our Key Learnings
1
A primary motivation for a user to read is in order to dig deep on a specific interest.
2
Curation gave users a sense of trust and acted as a starting point to expand their reading choices.
3
Users wanted to read short form content in-between their long form reading.
Wrapping up the sprint
After our design sprint and research, we felt like we had a clear vision of how the product needed to evolve. To further clarify that vision and share it with the broader company we created a higher fidelity prototype.
Hi-Fi Prototype
Milestones
Now that we had a clear idea and visual for where we wanted the product to move, we were finally ready to start testing our hypotheses in production. We decided to break up the initiative into three high-level milestones.
1
Re-orient browsing & discovery around interests (as opposed to content type).
2
Explore introducing supplementary short form content via partnerships with magazines & newspapers.
3
Add sprinkles of curation via collections from trusted public sources and from our editorial team.
Note: These milestones were also completed in parallel with a re-brand led by other designers on my team. We had a lot going on!
Re-orienting browse
Our first learning from our research was that users were motivated to read as a way to explore and dig deep on their interests. Our product, however, was oriented around content types. Users had to narrow their focus on "books", "audiobooks", or "comics" before they saw any potential reads. We wanted to flip the script by allowing users to select an interest first and then showing content across content types based their selection.

Furthermore, the taxonomy of our catalog was classified based on the Dewey Decimal System. Although this classification was familiar to some readers, it also felt out of touch with the modern needs of our audience. We worked with our editorial team to re-imagine our taxonomy and classification system to be focused on a modern family of interests.

Before Our Update
Updated Browse Mobile
Updated Browse Tablet
Interest Page Web
Updated Taxonomy
Introducing Articles
The next key insight we wanted to address was that users wanted content to read which didn't require a huge time commitment. Our users obviously loved reading books and audiobooks, but long form content can also feel like a lot of work.

While the product team was busy re-orienting our product around interests our business partnerships team had been busy building relationships with some of the best newspaper & magazine companies in the world.

With partnerships in place, my team and I got to work designing how articles could fit into our browse, search, and recommendation systems. We also designed a reader specifically for articles.
Articles Desktop and Mobile
Articles Mobile
Articles Reader
Putting it together with curated lists
Lastly, we had learned that curation and a human touch can be powerful towards helping users find content. Most of our app was powered with algorithmic recommendations and, for the most part, they worked great. What was missing, however, was a sense that Scribd's recommendations adjusted and evolved with the real world. We also knew that new users who didn't have strong recommendations yet needed more refined curation to help them get started.

To accommodate, we created a feature called Curated Lists. We partnered with well known public figures, authors, and celebrities to bring their reading recommendations to our users.
Curated Lists Mobile
Updated Homepage with Curated Lists
Results
· Traffic to pages via updated browse increased over 15% and improved discovery success rate by 3%.
· Adding articles and short form content increased average reading time by 5%.
· Through a combination of improved retention and conversion, we increased our subscriber base from 300k to 500k over the span of 12 months.