NPR Books

  • Interaction design
  • Visual design
  • Strategy

To showcase content, increase editorial productivity, open new business opportunities and — most centrally — create a distinctive user experience that deepens and expands engagement for an audience that is passionate about discovering and exploring new books.

Start with a metadata audit

To craft the best possible experience, I started by conducting a thorough audit of the existing content in the books section. After cataloging each piece of candidate metadata, I was able to present a plan for unifiying the varied structures and designs into one complete system.

How might we encourage exploration?

By applying a uniform metadata structure across the entire books site, readers experience a predictable navigation structure that encourages exploration. There are countless paths to collections of content organized by genre, author and specific book. I wanted to craft an experience with predictable patterns for horizontal navigation to let a reader immerse themselves deeply in book discovery. As an added bonus, the book, author and genre pages are all created automatically with little editorial involvement.

Story page

Book page

Author page

Genre page

Revised bestseller lists

The previous iteration of NPR Bestseller Lists were built on the chassis of an unaccommodating generic story page template. The navigation was clumsy, requiring a reader to select a week then explore each list type. The lists were hand-crafted each week and contained no metadata about the books listed within. The revised version allows exploration by week and by type of list at the same time. Additionally, it is loaded with horizontal navigation, allowing a reader to explore an author's name, a book title, by genre and to read selected stories.

NPR Books Home

We capped off the redesign of the books section with a revised home page and section-wide navigation design. While the majority of traffic comes to individual pages, we wanted the books homepage to mirror the organization of the interior pages of the site: support confident orientation and navigation, showcase our best editorial content and encourage discovery of new books. This was accomplished by zoning the sections of the page to reinforce the areas.

To underscore the notion of comfortable exploration, we made the decision to carry book-specific navigation throughout all books pages. The new pattern provided a clearer way to navigate the entire section, significantly increasing traffic. This project's solid IA underpinnings became a foundation for many new product experience in the future, including the NPR staple: summer books lists.