WPG Uitgevers is a big publisher with numerous fiction and non-fiction titles as well as magazines such as Vrij Nederland, Happinez, and Voetbal International. As part of WPG’s digital transformation strategy Booreiland has been working together with their innovation team Schwung to help realize the full potential of their newly built API with AI capabilities. Together we have created a playful wizard which surprises you with personal thriller book recommendations.
Creating a service around an engine.
Schwung approached us to provide conceptual and visual translations for their API, the ‘Schwung engine’. This API contains metadata from thousands of thriller books but unusually, it includes aspects such as reading difficulty, thematic genres and writing style. In order for us to gain more insight into the power of the metadata and its true value to the market, we ran Schwung through a digital service design program. The result was a good understanding of the unexpected and varied target audiences of thriller books, as well as defined interface guidelines – a strong base to begin the concept phase.
Pushing the customer journey.
From our digital service design report and conclusions, it was clear what Schwung’s API is capable of and the important touch points that the interface should have but not how it should be applied. It was Booreiland’s task to conceptualize what the interface should comprehend? How would users interact with it? What was clear was that the concept had to give the user a perfect thriller match based on a recognizable, innovative user journey. Through brainstorm sessions and internal workshops we explored different perspectives, from serious, literary concepts to ideas based on emojis, our ideas went far and wide but after deliberation, we landed on (drum roll please) ‘Thrill Seeker’!
A playful wizard.
Thrill Seeker is a tool that provides personalized recommendations based on 2 different user journeys that the user can take. Have you recently read an exciting thriller and do you want to read something similar? By entering the book or author’s name the API can return exact keywords which helped make this book unique, allowing the user to choose the keywords most important to them, before delivering the top 10 recommendations based on the book and keywords chosen. Not sure what you are looking for? In the longer journey, the interface leads you on a set of questions that the API can measure against the books from the database. With questions that have been carefully chosen to get the most out of the API, the results mean a carefully selected list of 10 books which closely match your preferences.
Being bold in red.
Our goal for the interface design was to make it stand out and be remembered, something people would want to return to and use again. Obviously, it had to remain clear and easy to use, intuitive and uncomplicated, unlike the complex API engine behind it. To evoke a thriller vibe, we wanted to be bold and surprising, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s film posters with a modern twist. We opted for a predominant red color, thrilling without being bloody. We included contrasting typography, letting the covers of the books stand out, no bold type or unnecessary capitalizations but a clear sans-serif body font, in combination with a quirky serif font for the headers.
Better performance with React.
Thrill Seeker is a wizard that should feel like a native app. For this reason, we used React as our chosen framework for building the interface, known for its speed and instantaneous loading. We teamed this together with WordPress as a CMS to allow Schwung to change and therefore test elements of the interface. All content was served by a REST API, which is able to fill the React front-end with content.
From beta to better.
At the moment Thrill Seeker is a BETA version and an MVP for testing. By using various UX tools, it is possible to connect and test the app against the target audiences. Currently, Hotjar, BlueConic and Google Analytics are helping us understand how users are really interacting with the interface and their experiences within it.
As we continue to test the interface and grow the database beyond thriller books, improving the API, so too will the quality of recommendations improve. In the future you won’t have to worry about choosing the wrong book for your holiday or journey on the train, Thrill Seeker will choose it for you.
“This project allowed us to experiment with new development stacks. A combination of React, Next.js and headless Wordpress in a Docker container turned out to be the best setup for this web app. And red it is!”