Service Design, strategic Design, Social Innovation,
User Experience Design,
User Interface, System Design
from October 2018 - December 2018

“ I didn’t know what to do when I first came to New York Public Library!”


Library visitors find current wayfinding systems confusing, and the guided tours are long and offered at inconvenient times.


Various self-guided audio tour offerings offered on a web app including object recognition technology.

My role

Primary and secondary Researcher, UX Flow Creator, interviewer, UI/UX Sketch Prototyping, User Journey creator, User test conductor, storyboard drawer.

My Teammates

Kaitlin Carano, Kenrick Ramsay
Instructor’s evaluation: “In all, this represented the best qualities of the projects I see in this class. Thorough research, excellent attention to detail, adherence to the methodology and creative insights. Well done all.” - Marshall Sitten
Play with the inVision Prototype
Jump to Hifi Design

§ Preface: Problem & Opportunity

NYPL is certainly full of various information and this can confuse newcomers. As we continued to do field research there, we noticed a common theme of new visitors struggling to find their way, even with the large wayfinding maps/signs.

We observed visitors walking to the map or the information desk to try to gain some insight. Those who wanted more guidance often relied on tours for more information and navigation.

We found several problems:
1. These problems resulted from:Map signage that is confusing directionally
2. No information about what each room offersLimited information about how to get to the most popular rooms
3. Limited number of tours that require a time investment.

§ Chapter 1: Problem Definition

This project followed the Double Diamond design methodology. We had some inspection interview with several library visitors, and we find that in order to get to know NYPL, visitors still relay a lot on human guide, which means the description website of NYPL and local signage are not working. After several interview, we analyze the pain points of library visitors.

Based on the current user journey, our team wants to improve the ease with which new visitors can engage with the library.


1. Creating a way to engage with the library that is straightforward and engaging

2. Allow users to have autonomy in exploring the library

3. Remove waiting time4. Be flexible and customizable based on visitor needs

We analyzed the current info and stakeholders together and schedule an interview with a NYPL librarian to have a better understand of how NYPL works.

After preliminary user research we met with Michelle Misner, a librarian at the NYPL who is in charge of access and operations at the NYPL

There is a less-known fact that NYPL is a research library, which means you cannot borrow books there.

We knew that there are 3.6 million visitors a year; 10-25k visitors a day and 150,000 visitors a month.  NYPL needs to have the ability to handle a lot of visitors.

§ Chapter 2: Ideation

Based on this process, here are some insights we found:

1. There is no information about how to use this library in this library’s physical space.

2. Different people have different interests and needs at the NYPL.

3. People tend to explore the library by themselves.

4. Information about the tour is only available at the info desk or online.

5. Current wayfinding signs are confusing and don’t help people get where they want to go.

We analyzed the cur rent touch points and systems and tried toleverage them as our solution.

Salient Attributes

The salient attributes of this service is to motivate and teach visitors to use the NYPL.

Service Blueprint

Mission Statement

Help visitors to explore New York Public Library by themselves.

Competitive Research

When looking at the plausibility of our solution we considered other museums that offer self-service audio tours:

1. At the Guggenheim Museum, your mobile device can detect your location so that it can provide the information of the exhibits which visitors are looking at in time.

2. At Taibei Palace Museum, they offer an audio tour and some videos to explain the exhibits.

3. In MoMA, they offer a specific tour plan for visitors with limited time through the audio tour.

In our research, it was unclear whether these other self-service tours have customized topics or allow users to set the duration of the tour. If not, this would be a clear differentiator of our offering and would be an innovative addition.

Our Idea And storyboard

I drew a storyboard to illustrated our ideas.

1. Since it is a web-app, visitors don’t have to download it. They can use it on their web server by clicking a link on the Wifi popup.

2. This solution aims to be a complementary service to the highly-valued, expertise-based tours provided by the docents. It would serve to be flexible for those with limited time or who like exploring alone.

§Chapter 3: Prototype

High fidelity Design

No.1 To start, users can choose if they’d like to follow an audio tour by clicking “Tour” or “Wander” Mode to explore NYPL by themselves.

No.2 If users choose “Tour”, they can select topics of interest and duration of tour.

No.3 The app will then filter tours relevant to their selected interests and duration.

No.4 Before the tour starts, users will see a map that displays their current location and their route for the tour.

No.5 If they press any specific location’s icon, they can see the detailed description of this place or room.

No.6 The “Wander” option is an AR based service that allows visitors to scan notable objects in the library and receive back identifying information about the object.

§Chapter 4: User Test

We built a prototype of our new tour offering and tested it at the New York Public Library. We tested the app with various library visitors ranging from New Yorkers to foreign visitors.

After testing, our users shared a desire to be able to select a more tailored audio tour options, that they felt this web-app empowered them to explore the NYPL, and they were very interested in the “Wander” function. In addition they gave us some useful advice or ideas about where things were confusing in the current prototype.

§Chapter 5: Interview and Strategic Goal

To meet this goal, our team added specific tour options to the service that would be based on topics that could introduce visitors to relevant and less intimidating research resources and how they might want to use them themselves.

However, since many visitors are from other states or countries, we still needed to keep tours that were relevant for people who are unlikely to become the users of NYPL.

Feedback from users and Librarian

To meet the library’s strategic goal of converting visitors into users, we developed two potential buckets of tours – some for visitors to explore the history and “greatest hits” of the library and some to introduce visitors to resources that might interest them and then teach them how to use the research library.

In conclusion:

1. Topics are designed both for tourists and potential NYPL regular users

2. Topics are based on knowledgeAdd information about how to use this library

3. Add information about how to use this library


§Chapter 6: Risks analysis

Risk: some visitors may find the technology difficult to use.

Solution: train volunteers to assist with the web app.

Risk: limitation of languages for multicultural visitor population.

Solution: accept this risk and create tours in the five languages they currently use for audio tour.

Risk: visitors who enter the library at different entrances may struggle with navigating the web-app.

Solution: clarify visual wayfinding and use auditory instructions to direct visitors through the library.

Risk: docents might feel replaced by the new app.

Solution: mitigated through this being a complementary offering and inviting docents to record some of the tours based on topics they are interested in the library.

Risk: visitors may not have a smartphone or be knowledgeable about how to use AR technology.

Solution: accept this risk, especially as there are other tour offerings available still.

§Epilogue: Next Step

Based on our feedback from our first round of testing, we would want to conduct more user tests to better understand the onboarding process and evaluate whether users find the entry point natural and useful, to test a higher fidelity of the upcoming features and pathways in the space, and to document and analyze both user and stakeholder feedback. In addition we would want to extend our user test to before visitors enter the library so we can determine how and if they become acquainted with our web app.

If our second round of tests can show that this app would hit the strategic goals of the library as well as the user needs, we would work with the library to set up a fundraising campaign for this new offering. In addition to fundraising, we may look at including investors and potential partnerships.

What I have learned

During this project, I felt like an interaction designer is not merely a problem solver but also a problem seeker. I'm a library lover, and besides a designer, I am also a user. So as a user I find there are many painpoints are waiting to be solved. But we cannot make design just based on one person's opinion. And also, our team did many rounds of user tests to hear from real users, as a cliche, the earlier you make mistakes, the earlier you will find the right path.

Let’s work on a solution together!
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