Full article featured on The Startup publication at Medium.
The adult literacy rate in Malaysia has been steadily growing from the 1980s until now, peaking at 95% in 2017. Malaysians are reported as one of the top buyers of books yet not the most read. Our previous prime minister, Dr. Mahathir spoke about our reading culture affected by digitalisation:
One of the challenges we face today in encouraging the reading culture is the digital influence on society. This digital influence is so huge that traditional reading sources such as newspapers and books are increasingly sidelined.”
At the same time, makeshift initiatives across the world have been actively engaging people to read in passive moments like during commuting hours, deploying mobile libraries and hidden books in goodwill and trust.
Most non-readers reportedly find it challenging to find time to read, competing with other forms of media and recreational activities. Some gaps that prevent non-readers to active readers:
Putting books in front of you might make you pick one up, but it hardly incentivises you to read more
Without starting small with clear goals & instructions ahead, no habit will last long for new readers
We need to focus on a niche group to discover how reading can actually grow them in an area of life
With this context in mind, working professionals were determined as a niche audience to improve their reading habits due to their predictable commuting patterns and unoccupied time while commuting. The average working professional is either actively or passively preparing for their workday in the morning. This enables opportunities to maximise their commuting time by reading something helpful on-route to work.
User persona mapping
By understanding what goes into their morning process, the pathway to picking up reading is targeted to help professionals better prepare their day by curating digestible content to lead healthier, happier and more productive work life over time, which leads to growing their reading habits.
The product needs to incentivise professionals on a recurring basis like a gym – growing the readers’ appetite in small quantities consistently.
the reading material must be curated to solve the professionals’ work-life needs to see the direct benefits of reading – thus growing the habit.
The product needs to be cheap to onboard, use and maintain. Current mobile library solutions are particularly prone to short-term usage.
Wireframing + information architecture
The more ideas were explored, the more other potentially useful features emerged. Most of which are catering to the general wellbeing of the daily professional — something reading alone cannot do:
- What if there are support groups for difficult situations at work?
- What if there could be a daily boost quote to excite users each day?
- How do we encourage users to eventually read more with books?
Easily set your reading preferences and develop your appetite to read more overtime by tracking progress
Find work/business concepts from popular authors and books that are helpful for your work
To keep learning a habit, new content is only available by visiting to scan at the QR station every morning
Onboarding for the first time
From the start, Workbuddy gets to learn your reading comfort/pace, sets up a clear weekly goal and suggests work topics you might enjoy learning — all designed to break down your reading progress into simple steps, like a gym!
Read, track and save work tips
Each work tip is summarised into its core concepts based on famous business/innovation books, helping you easily pick up the basics of each concept. By completing a tip, you can save, share or focus to apply the work tip. Your profile automatically tracks how long you’ve been reading the past week to measure your reading growth.
Bite-sized content from actual books
For every work tip, Workbuddy gives recommendations for books that the tip is based on —should you want to learn a particular concept in-depth and thus growing your appetite to read more based on initial interest.
New content — available every day!
Every 24 hours, you get new work tips to learn!… except that you have to acquire them by scanning the QR station again. This is designed to reinforce a physical cue that helps you get into the rhythm of reading consistently without overwhelming you with too much content.
Connect and grow with others
To avoid reading in isolation, you can post and share your work situation in the form of support groups anonymously for feedback and advice. Each morning reveals a simple work quote of the day through simple swipe down to give you that extra boost you need for the day ahead.
“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied”. — Dale Carnegie
- Start by solving for a smaller niche: people don’t read for different reasons. By analysing a suitable target audience, there’s a better chance to help a group of individuals than concocting catch-all solutions.
- Build empathy with non-readers: learn to reverse engineer reading from the non-readers’ perspective, understand their pain points and close the gap between abstract knowledge and practical application.
- Adapt solutions from across industries: there are a million ways to solve problems, but sometimes borrowing existing solutions, like gamifying reading similar to a gym, make it easier for stakeholders to simply ‘get it’.