Huff Books

An E-commerce second-hand book store where people can buy and sell their books, only in Australia.

Client: Huff Books
Role: Branding, UX/UI Design, User Testing
Date: Oct. - Dec. 2021

View Prototype

The idea behind the project is the creation of an E-commerce website named HuffBooks, based in Australia. On the site you would be able to buy and/or sell second-hand books, creating an alternative market, which is eco-friendly and cheaper.

I had 6 weeks in total to conduct the Interviews, Competitor research, and also finish the Personas, User Journeys, User Flows, Sitemap & Flowchart. And another 8 weeks to create the visual identity of the brand/product, and finish the UI design for desktop and the mobile versions.

What problems does this product solve?

Depending on the two types of users, it solves two problems.

1. The problem of a customer who is having difficulty finding the books they are looking for.
2. Making it easier for sellers to find buyers for their specific used books.

It solves also the problem of cost and convenience:
• Helps people access secondhand books.
• Helps people look up books easily online.
• Solves the problem of reprinting books that have already been printed.

FOCUS 01 Research

All of the information we gathered was drawn from research findings, articles, interviews, and public statistics on book readers in Australia.

We conducted a survey on Pollfish where we asked important questions to streamline into data that we could use to guide our decisions. The number of participants was 600, all of whom were based in Australia. The Survey

A great source of info that was provided by the stakeholders was the: Australian Book Readers: Survey Method and Results

Other sources: 1. Marketing Week 2. Wired

Listed below, are the findings I outlined from the overall research.

Target Audience:

Buyers: They are mostly female, single, or married without kids (20 - 35). Recreational readers or collectors. Escapism & self-improvement books are the main reason they wanna read.
Sellers (a): They own a large books store and wanna scale their business online.
Sellers (b): People with less than 30 books and they wanna get rid of some of their used books.

Most of them are used to shopping online for second-hand books on eBay, Amazon, Gumtree, etc. Not often but they have experienced issues in the past that prevented them from buying a specific book.

The Pollfich survey data showed that among the “other” careers people in Educations & Health Care were among the largest public. With most of them being employed for wages with a finished University.

Their frustrations are: time-consuming to upload the book, knowing the price of what to price their books. Some books are out of print, and they exist only in the secondhand form (huff books will offer those books). They don’t like consuming and want to recycle. Worried about leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
Other pros of using Huff Books: Encourages buying locally. Cheaper post and shipping (at cost). Meeting up with somebody in person when the store would be closed (on a Sunday for example).

Target Audience - Age group:

Buyers: 20-35
Sellers (a): 35-65
Sellers (b): 20-40

FOCUS 02 Goals & Personas

In a detailed interview with the client/stakeholder, we figured out and determined the main goals of the product. For them, it was most important that the site be easy to use and navigate.

Must-have elements:

• Easy Login
• Searchbar
• Categories
• Top books on the home page
• Share capability on social media
• A page dedicated to university textbooks

• Like to have: Donate button for charities.


For HuffBooks I made two user personas, one representing those who will use the website for buying books, and one for those who will use it for selling.
The end results were also drawn from the average demographics and psychographics of the product’s typical users. For this, I used the data which was collected via an online survey and some extra research that I did on the tendencies of Australian book readers.

Based on the user personas, I identified the main user needs we wanted to address in the website while also taking into consideration the goals of Huff Books.

1. Product search to easily find products to easily find products
2. Clear product organization for a seamless shopping/selling experience
3. Helpful Product Suggestions that reflects Huff Books expertise and curated inventory
4. Detailed product information to ensure proper product selection
5. Reviews to help make informed buying decisions and allow for user input
6. Efficient checkout process to save users time and allow for easy purchase of products
7. Customer brand relationship to establish trust

FOCUS 03 User Journeys

Mapping out the user journey helped me define the customer experience from start to end.

I find user journeys immensely important as they define the motivations for using the product, the problems that the product solves for the user, the different phases of the product, and they define the experience from start to finish, as well as emotions and feelings that the user may have along the way.

FOCUS 04 Competitor research & analysis

Interestingly enough Huff Books was somewhat unique on the market, in it that it was a combination of online second-hand stores and online book stores.

To gain inspiration for the Huff Books website, I began by identifying 3 main competitors, specifically online second-hand goods and book stores in Australia, and 3 main indirect competitors in the online book market. The direct competitors I analyzed were Booktopia, Gumtree, and Brotherhood Books.
The indirect competitors were Book Depository, Amazon, and eBay. My goal was to compare and identify common features across these sites and potential opportunities for Huff Books to differentiate itself.

Top cometitors:

• Book Depository
• Booktopia
• Gumtree
• Brotherhood Books

Let’s discuss the biggest competitor and inspiration behind the user experience and interface of the website — Book Depository.

From day 1. we knew that Book Depository was the closest to what the client had in mind in terms of navigation and usability. And it is easy to see Books Depositories influence our choices. Their overall layout is clean, intuitive, and simple. Their large user base, a clear indicator of a product that works well. And Australia has the most book purchases via Book Depository of all the countries in the world.

Aussies sure do love their books, but no doubt that the “free shipping” was a crucial feature that led to Book Depository's success in Australia. Free shipping is not an option that could have been implemented in Huff Books, but we did add a “No shipping button” for all of the users that were interested in buying their books locally, in their town, where they can meet the seller face-to-face.

I used “similarweb” for more statistics, but also to see their presence on social media, and audience interests. This is also something I later thought about when creating the User Journeys. Statistics about Book Depository on similarweb:
After conducting more research I created a table with the most important features Huff Books would need and compared the features to the ones of our main competitors. It was used to show the stakeholder and project manager all of the features we would need to implement in order to meet the stakeholders/project owners' requests.

The most important takeaway from this activity was learning how different websites organized their products/books, their features, and the overall layouts they used for those websites.

FOCUS 05 Product structure

With the results of the personas, user journeys and competitor research, I created a sitemap that defines the overall structure of the website. This ensured that the website would be more intuitive, and that the products were placed exactly where users would excpect to find them.

FOCUS 06 User Flow

The point of this was to define the intended steps each user might take through various pages and actions on the website in order to complete their goal. Not only would this allow me to focus on what each of the users needed to accomplish, but also how to deliver that experience in the most effective manner possible when designing the website.

Over the period of the next two weeks, I redefined the User Flow a couple of times to make sure that the users can go from browsing books they are looking for to having them shipped to their address. I created a general User Flow that was always there for the stakeholders, project manager, and developers to check.

And lastly, I made a simple isolated flow for the shopping experience because of its importance to the overall functionality of the website.

FOCUS 07 Wireframes

A crucial step before building the actual product was the wireframes, where I could test out ideas and see how they function in reality. For HuffBooks, I started making high-fidelity wireframes right away, as we already had enough information about how the website should be organized and function.

FOCUS 08 Prototyping & Testing

Before development started I wanted to test out the website and see if potential users would have trouble navigating it.

I recruited 7 participants from the Slack community to conduct remote moderated usability testing on my designs.
During the test, I asked them to complete a series of tasks that helped me understand their thought process and see if they could accomplish the set goals. This was also the perfect time to ask about their likes and dislikes of the prototype.

A great thing about the tool I used (Figma) was how simple linking the screens was when I used components. Altho I’m not gonna lie, it was a tedious process, but an important one for this stage.

Almost everything had to be clickable to get a sense of a real product with good navigation. This led to a lot of linking of buttons, which resulted in... well this...

Objectives of testing:
• Find issues in the navigation & validate the flow

The scenario tasks:
• Navigate a specific book (which we told them)
• Purchase a book (from selecting it to the checkout)
• Post a review

Questions we want to be answered:
• What was the ease of use in each of the tasks (1-7 score)
• What were the critical points in each of the tasks?

The Moderating techniques we used:
• Concurrent think aloud
• Retrospective probing

Participants info:
• Gender: Male & Female
• Age: 23 - 29
• Tech Literacy: High

• Figma, Google forms
Retrospective probing

I would ask my participants to undertake a scenario test where I provided access to the prototype and the following scenario:
"You are a new user who wants to find a specific book and purchase it, after which you will post a review."

The participants then had to navigate the prototype to find the product and continue with the other 2 steps. I kindly requested each user to verbalize their thoughts while using the prototype so I could note down what they were thinking. I was pleased that all 7 participants navigated the website quickly and easily.

The 7 participants involved in the testing thankfully had no issues navigating the website (Note: they have used Book Depository and eBay before, which was ok with us as most of Huff Books potential users are familiar with those websites).
For the sellers, however, we did not test the “Posting an Ad” flow as it required two steps and the stakeholder felt that it was not necessary at this point.

FOCUS 09 Usability Heuristics

Scope: I set to examine only the most crucial areas of the site and focused on specific user flows and functionalities, such as login/register, search and browse, product detail page, shopping cart, and checkout.

I considered using “Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design” but the “20 Usability Heuristics by Weinschenk and Barker” was the list I opted to check against. I did however remove 3 items from the list as I did not see them necessary for this project.

I was the only designer on the project, and altho I did uncover several usability issues during a heuristic analysis, I wish there were more experts present in the analysis.

For any issues that I found I left comments (in Figma) on those elements and later on I made sure that the problems did not further violate any usability heuristics.
Note: I combined heuristic analysis with one-on-one user testing.

FOCUS 10 Visual Identity

I conducted another set of interviews with the stakeholders to better understand the brand's attributes, look and feel.

We agreed that the visuals had to be clean, classic, trustworthy, inviting, elegant, and have a different and bold color to distinguish them from their competitors.

The color orange I chose was risky as it is either liked or not by the majority of people. But in the end, we opted for it anyway, as it was warm, different, and memorable.

The beautiful and refined serif typography I chose is “Ivar Display”.

FOCUS 11 User Interface Design

In the final step, I duplicated the high-fidelity wireframes and began giving them a makeover. That is, applying the visual identity that we defined.

I decided to get rid of all unnecessary colors and just keep it simple and clean for the best navigating experience. Besides, there will be many books in different colors on the website.

The orange color is used rarely and when it is, it's usually there to lead our customers through the whole purchasing process.

Besides orange, I used black for most of the buttons to draw just the right amount of attention. The website is mostly white so the use of black doesn't make it morbid or too edgy.
When using it with an elegant font such as Ivar Display Medium, we get a classy and sophisticated feel to the interface.

In contrast to all of that, I've added a corner radius to almost all elements. The softness of the edges helps to keep the website smooth and soft, implying its ease of use, and the clickability of the items (buttons, books, etc.).
The corners also blend in nicely with the background. We can still see the sections clearly, but they are not drawing attention from the content.

Using the authors as faces of Huff Books

To beak the sterile look of the home page I added the best-selling authors in one line, as it was convenient, interesting, and acted as a quick “filter” to their books, which statistics say are the most searched for.


The end product remained loyal to all the primary goals that we had set up from the beginning, focusing on overall usability and ease of use.

This project challenged me and so helped me grow and learn, in its particular ways, as every new project does. In the end, I am grateful for all the steps and how they all transpired as I’ve honed my UX skills immensely during the design process.

Thank you for reading!