We had the pleasure to work with the new social textbook marketplace, Booklify. The startup, a brainchild of recent MSU grads Darin Gross and Kyle Pollak, allows users to list, sell and buy textbooks right on their mobile phones.

As someone who recently had to go through the trouble and challenge of buying and selling textbooks, I can say personally that going to bookstores can be a complete drain on your wallet and on your personal sanity when you try to sell it back to them at the end of the year. I mean, if I’m buying a $80 book that I’m going to use for all of 4 months, why am I selling it back to them for pocket change? After realizing how insulting this was, I decided to start selling my books on amazon, which didn’t turn out much better. You would have to go to the post office and waste more of the little money you were getting back on shipping. Needless to say, the current system is broken. That’s where Booklify steps in.

We had quite a challenge on hand: Make a website that was easy to understand, could fit on a mobile browser (limited visual real estate), and make the whole process something you could potentially do while sitting on the bus going to your next class. This meant a lot of work in paper mockups and flow charts of interactions and potential pathways users could go in a website. If you’ve never had to design a eCommerce or sales site, let me let you in on something: there’s a lot you can click on. It was good to be working side-by-side the experienced developers at AMBR, who really helped us drill down into use cases and kept our information lean and unobtrusive.

Some things we learned in the process:

People have Big Fingers: If you’re designing for mobile, make sure your buttons are large enough for people to press them. (65-90px works well, and if I see another 25px ‘X’ button on another mobile site I’m going to FREAK.)

Know what Users are Looking For: You may have 30 different identifiers for each book, from SKUs to ISBNs to ASDFs, but if all your user needs is Edition, Name and Author, don’t overload them with useless information. The worst thing you can have is a cluttered browser.

Different effects mean different things: Websites have tons of different styles of buttons and icons now. Make sure your buttons really speak their use.

Posted by