Client: Paracodex
Date: May 2017
Role: UX/UI Designer

Imagine a Kindle combined with Slack, Wikipedia and Youtube. 

_01 Synopsis

ParaCodex aims to enhance the reading experience through digital tools and features that promote a more social, networked and interactive environment not afforded by print culture.

As the user experience and interface designer in this project, my tasks included preparing the competitive analysis, in-person interviews, persona, user journey, ui kit, wireframes and prototype.

Problems identified:

  1. Print culture is closed off, finite. Not open.
  2. Print culture is static and fixed. Not iterative.
  3. Print culture is not social – readers cannot examine the same text simultaneously.
  4. Print culture is not multi-modal – text-centric. Not visual or dynamic.

_02 Strategy

a. Objective & Approach

From the kickoff meeting, we decided a modified agile approach would be the most fitting for our tight project timeline of 5 weeks. This approach allowed us to move from collaboration to rapid prototyping – working alongside one another to reduce heavy documentation.

b. Models to Consider & Areas of Opportunity

For the competitive analysis, I grab the direct and indirect competitors and looked for standard and key features. I performed a heuristic evaluation to see exactly how dynamic and well-designed the app was. I then wanted to test the app to see what users are thinking when they are using the platform.

_03 User Research

To accomplish our goal of transforming the reading experience, our group identified – through case studies, literature reviews and interviews – a number of problem areas that exist in the current reading experience.

Case Studies

Overall Themes from the Symposium:

How Digital Publishing Enables New Modes of Scholarly Communication

Open Access

Info becomes transmutable as readers share, re-mix, re-evaluate and extend research without facing legal ramifications.

Peer Review

Digital publishers should consider using a publish then edit methodology.


Multi-modality requires new forms of discourse, to think beyond librocentricism.

Grey Literature

Lack of organized means of collection and distribution and may include conference papers, exhibition catalogs…

Literature Reviews

Cognitive Science Research

The 1st review found that information should be:

  • Presented in bite-sized pieces,
  • In multiple modalities,
  • Actively engaging

The 2nd literature review found that:

  • A web-based book project must involve a team of interaction designers and user experience practitioners in its decision,
  • Consumers of scholarly materials are no longer simply readers, but are users who click, swipe, scroll, annotate and comment in a networked, transmutable environment.

Primary Users:

  • Students
  • Teachers

Secondary Users:

  • Publishers
  • Researchers
  • Librarians


  • Goals?
  • Tools/methods used to study?
  • How are study materials accessed?
  • Challenges/frustrations when researching or studying?
a. User Scenario and Persona

After user research, we were able to identify the attributes of our users and prioritize them by impact and potential. We developed 5 personas, below is a focus on the primary (most impactful): the student.


Age: 36
Status: Married
Occupation: Marketing Communications Manager
Education: Doctor of Philosophy (PHD), Working

“Sometimes it’s really difficult to analyze texts beyond their narrative and content.”

Stats Knowledge:: 36
Engagement:: Married
Sociability:: Marketing Communications Manager


  • Different versions of texts
  • Make and compile annotations
  • Cross-reference with other texts
  • Discuss passages and questions with colleagues




  • Print constricts engagement and accessibility
  • Multiple platforms are needed to meet goals

_04 Frustrations & Opportunities

From the interviews, I was able to construct a user scenario and create a journey map to see what their goals and frustrations were and where the opportunities and differentiators lie.

I found that students wanted to: have different versions of texts for research, to be able to make and compile annotations, cross-reference with other texts and to discuss passages and questions with colleagues. Many of them were frustrated that they needed to use different platforms to complete these tasks and the fact that print constricts engagement and accessibility.

To solve these problems, our project proposed these solutions:

  1. An annotating, bookmark and highlight module similarly to Kindle, except with sharing capabilities
  2. A group forum and chatting module similarly to Slack
  3. A module for teachers and students to ask and answer questions

_05 Design: UI Kit

Presented below is the partial UI kit for Paracodex in “night mode.” Other options will include: daylight mode and color schemes.

_06 Feedback

Karn Chahar – A student studying IT and Management

“It has a good interactive user interface. The buttons on the home screen are self-explanatory like email, contact, help and edit. Video integration is also very thoughtful to help with ideas available on the internet. Group chat on the right bottom would prove to be a great add-on in a group activity environment. It is a very decent prototype, if developed could be very user-friendly and interactive. I think users will love it!

Do you feel more engaged as a reader?

“Yes, the chat function – I can see myself talking with my classmates and asking for help on certain topics. That makes me want to be more involved and engaged.”