Mobile App Ideation Session

On Friday, February 12, the UX Team conducted a Mobile App Ideation session.

Definition of ideation

:  the capacity for or the act of forming or entertaining ideas

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

The purpose of the session was to give Library Staff the opportunity to take part in the Team’s Mobile App Project. The Mobile App Project is part of a larger project already underway to develop a solid and flexible web services layer. Participants learned about ideation and the project development process. By the end of the session, the participants had created prototypes that addressed user identified problems. During the Spring semester, these prototypes will be the basis for user testing and further development.

The Challenge was to create a “minimum viable product” for the Library’s mobile app that focuses on the needs of both graduate and undergraduate students.

  • Define Stage:
    • Participants divided into teams and examined feedback gathered from student focus group interviews. Needs/wants/observations were separated into categories. The goal was to form Insights based on these categories.
    • Participants then formed “How might we” questions, based on these Insights. Four questions that best aligned with student feedback were chosen.
    • In the next exercise, each participant composed a tweet, announcing the new Library App.
  • Diverge Stage:
    • In this stage, participants explored various ideas and drew a storyboard that illustrated their most viable idea.
  • Decide and Prototype Stages:
    • In the final exercise, each team selected the best individual idea and created a storyboard for presentation to the group. The storyboards will later be used for testing and development.


The ideation session resulted in the selection of four themes. The Library app should provide

  • A customizable, fully functional version of Virgo and ILL
  • The ability to reserve group study rooms, and display seat availability throughout each location
  • Location based information for navigation
  • Real-time information about the Library

In the last exercise, participants explored these themes and created five mock-ups for a proposed app.

Storyboard Summaries

  1. For a user wanting real-time information about study space availability: the user could select a specific library and a specific room. The app would indicate either percentage full, or provide a heat map to indicate seat availability.
  2. (Assumes User has opted-in to multiple notifications)
    User is in a bookstore when the Library app reminds the user to check the Library catalog before buying a book. The user scans the ISBN, finds the book, and chooses to be reminded to get the book when she is in the Library. User visits the Library, receives notification(s).  The app provides a stacks map and offers help locating the book. Another notification asks the user if she would like to consult databases based on the call number of her selection, or talk to a subject specialist. The user receives one final notification, asking for feedback on the experience.
  3. User has three objectives: print a paper, locate a specific study group, and check-out a movie. The app would show the locations of services (such as printers) and study spaces (quiet and collaborative), as well as provide the ability to search the Library catalog. In each case, the app would provide a floor plan, indicating the user’s location and path to the desired service/room/item.
  4. User types search into Search Box → Retrieves map of the Grounds → User chooses Alderman Library → App displays catalog record showing copies available → App displays floor plan of Alderman Library, indicating You are here → App displays layout of the stacks, indicating the location of the book for which the user searched.
  5. Premise: People want all kinds of information, not limited to databases. The app would connect people who have questions with people who have answers. There would be three channels from which to choose: Ask a Librarian, AI, and Hey (shout out). The last would be for questions such as “How many people are in line at the Coffee Café?” Users might get points for answering such questions.

Videos of storyboards:


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