Bloomsbury Publishing are a British institution with worldwide reach, a reputation for publishing the Harry Potter range and being the go to resource for academic and professional titles. They differ from other book retailers in the sheer range of publications available across a huge taxonomy and through providing a wide range of formats including inspection copies.

My Role

As the scope of the project only stretched to the mobile experience the existing it was necessary to work with the existing, complex information architecture to reflect the desktop website. Working alongside a Skyron team of Project Manager, Visual Designer and Lead Developer, I took the role of lead UX designer, defining, wireframing, prototyping and testing the mobile experience.


Initial customer feedback on the existing mobile experience highlighted many areas of weakness, the solution was way behind best practice. It was also clear there was a fairly even split between between those browsing a specific subject and those searching for a specific product. The search function in particular was failing, even with a unique ISBN used as part of the search.

The Approach

I broke the project into logical sections, navigation and search, product page display, checkout etc. and paper prototyped potential solutions, guerilla testing to identify any initial usability issues.

After initial iteration I created a clickable prototype at wireframe level, testing the more unique elements of the experience (e.g. how to present available formats to academics) with specific audience types whilst testing the more generic sections with a large audience base.

Simplified Navigation

Ease of navigation was the first objective, supporting both browsers and searchers. I used an icon menu to provide quick access to a category list, basket and account, with the main navigation hiding the long category list behind an initial parent link, giving prominence to the none product menu options.

A visual indicator displayed on adding a product to the basket giving the opportunity to launch a quick checkout.

Frictionless Product Pages

My chief concern with the product pages was how to handle the sheer weight of information displayed and maintain a structure focused around conversion. I settled on an approach of displaying only key information, with additional information quickly available through the use of collapsable panels.

A quirk of the database meant each instance of a product in a different format had it’s own record. With this in mind it was important to allow a quick means of switching format from within a product page, with shortcuts to add that product to the basket immediately without requiring the reload of another page.

Guest Checkout

To begin removing barriers from the checkout process it was necessary to remove a host of redundant fields and crucially create a guest checkout to quickly get the customer to the point of payment. For the initial phase technical requirements meant the creation of an account still existed at the final point before purchase through the entry of a password. I have stressed the importance of moving this option to beyond the confirmation stage to remove yet another conversion barrier.