Building an App the Bookbug Way

Image from the Bookbug Design Summit
Category: Bookbug

This May, official development of the Bookbug app finally began. We're working with Dubit, a Leeds-based app developer, who invited us to their office for a two-day ‘Design Summit’ to help us set out the intentions for the project.

Our top priority was to start with the needs of our users in mind, and keep them involved in the process throughout. To help with this, we invited two professionals who have worked with the Bookbug programme along to the meeting.

Judy Fielding is a trained Early Years Music and Story Specialist who currently delivers Bookbug Sessions in Glasgow. She has worked on the Bookbug programme since it began.

‘I feel very passionate about my role as a session leader and it was really great to have a say in what I thought would be helpful to all my session leader colleagues and our families.’

Janice Weir is a previous Bookbug Co-ordinator for East Renfrewshire and chair of the Early Years Library Strategy Group.

‘When I told friends and colleagues that I was going to be helping design an app, there was great hilarity. What did I, a non-techie librarian, know about designing apps? Nothing is the answer, but that is not what the Design Summit was about.’

The agenda for the day was packed, with lots of questions to answer:

  • What do we want to achieve with the app?
  • Who are we doing this for and what do they need to make it work for them?
  • How will they use it and how will we test it with them?

Judy says: ‘It was great to sit round the table with so many different people who are all specialists in their fields and hear what everyone felt should go into the app and how we would achieve this.’

Our first step was to put ourselves in an app user’s shoes. We created personas for our audiences, and imagined how the app could be useful to a single parent family or a busy librarian delivering a Bookbug session. Then we mapped out our audience’s current Bookbug journey to see how an app could add value and enhance the experience. We also thought about how an app could help us reach audiences who are missing out on Bookbug currently; perhaps an app referral from a friend or professional could help them find the programme.

We soon realised that there is a lot of potential for the Bookbug app, but that we need to start small and simple, and build up from there. Our priorities over the coming months will be to share our song and rhyme content, but make it more accessible to a wider range of audiences (such as families who speak in other languages) and to help new families find their nearest Bookbug Session. Ultimately, we need to make digital technology work for the Bookbug programme in ways it couldn’t have done before.

The next stage of the project will happen in mid-August where we’ll see our initial ideas in app form and start testing out what works well for Bookbug audiences.

Judy said: 'I’m excited to see the finished app and get to use it and tell others to use it too', while Janice commented, 'I learned so much and had great fun at the same time. What more can a librarian ask for?'