Shonen Jump - Search & Recommendation Curation

Overview

Team

Me (Solo Project)

Tools

Figma
Photoshop

Skills

User Research
Product Design

Duration

5 Weeks

Background

The Shonen Jump app is a manga/comics app that is owned and licensed by Viz Media. Viz Media buys the International license and distribution of Shonen Jump manga and comics. The anime industry has been growing every year but the manga portion of the industry has just started to catch up where more and more people are interested in reading it than just watching it. In the beginning portion of 2021 print sales of manga sold over 24.4 million of units and surpassed the number of units sold from its prior year.

Disclaimer

I do not work for Viz Media, and the views in this case study are strictly my own. As a budding designer, I acknowledge that my vision for this project is overly ambitious and at times reliant on assumptions of business goals. In a perfect world, I'd love to work alongside the Viz Media's team with direct access to these resources to guide my work. Until then, this case study is meant to be an exploratory learning experience for a product I use.

Problem

Finding and searching through the Shonen Jump’s content library is frustrating since there is no way to search by genre, no content that is curated from previous titles and having to switch between the different pages can be tedious.

Solution

A new section that aims to make it easier for people to find and discover new content that is suggested to them from the previous titles they read.

Research

With the use of UserTesting.com, I gathered info from a couple of anime fans to get their insight on what kinds of aspects of the app they liked or didn’t and why. Some of the users mentioned the usability and pain points regarding how the search and home page is missing features that would help them filter and look for content they might enjoy. A couple of takeaways from these interviews I interpreted was that although the Shonen Jump app has the benefit of its simplicity, but the app has issues with the current app’s methods for finding and promoting content.

Understanding the Problem

Shonen Jump has an issue with what manga they would like to promote across its app. Sometimes when a manga is on the home page, some manga that a user would enjoy will not be suggested to them or featured onto the home page which will then get lost in its navigation. New users to the app if heard about a manga that is in Shonen Jump will be put off by having them go through all the entire library. From here, I focused on a new discovery section that would help Shonen Jump curate titles to their users.

These conversations led me to the following opportunities:

Goal 1: Promotes and recommends content that leads people to reading new series
Goal 2: Evades making the app's navigation more complicated to use
Goal 3: Advocates for the betterment of the platform

Summary

Currently, Shonen Jump promotes mangas on their font page based on what is up to date, trending, or has became an anime. However, some of these recommended magna series might not suit what the user might look for with their experience using the Shonen Jump app.
I had set my proposed idea for a Discovery section.

Exploring Solutions

I began experimenting designs of a Discovery feature for users with a growing comic library list that is based from their experience with app whether that be from series they favorited or purchased volumes.

In the development, I would structure the discovery functionality into the current framework of the Shonen Jump app without making major changes so it could be accessible to users. I initially designed this feature by creating and redesigning how the search functionality is used on the app. Then I moved into developing the discovery function to its own section of the app, since that it would prevent from overloading the user and how people used search to find series.

Prototype

For the prototype, One focus that I had set out was designing within Shonen Jump’s design system and using it to develop how people would want to discover new titles. This focus was both a measure of understanding how the layout and implementation would occur on mobile. I made this section with the intention of improving how people discover new series from what they have already enjoyed.

Testing & Evaluating

I continued iterating on its design to see whether or not my design fit what a user wants when looking for something new to read. I user tested my prototype with 3 people who meet the audience criteria with the app. I interviewed them via Discord’s voice call in where they screen share their usability testing with the prototype and provided feedback. They could explore the prototype to which they then gave their thoughts on how this feature will work and will go into the changes I make (major or minor) in the final design.

After the user testing interview, I took some notes that I would remark on the current app's UI and prototype for my revision were:
1. Some expressed how the current Shonen Jump app is simple but also lacks on ways to discover manga.
2. Some expressed that this feature will help them read new series that they haven't before.
3. This section is a great way for people to know what is manga suggested based on what they liked in the past.

Final Design Concept

Takeaways

Summary

Finding new manga to read can be tiring to find nowadays since the space has grown so much. Shonen Jump has the brand recognition that people know which often delivers great manga to read. Although its app is approachable and simple to use, it can still be difficult navigating across the app since it has a large content but no clear solution to search for it. I designed a Discover section that helps the app recommends series to people are most likely to be interested in read it since it is suggested by their favorited titles.

Challenges

Shonen Jump is an a great app for people who are into the anime culture and love to read manga to read their favorite titles from the Shonen Jump Library all in one place. Although the app is simple to use it was quite difficult to focus on one issue to improve upon. Making the right design decisions was not easy since I wanted to not only make it accessible to the user, but I also make it innovative since the idea of creating a new way for people to discover new content can be seen as something that can be done with little effort.

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