Building an online community for young readers




Start of Project

Product Designer (Freelance)
Figma, FigJam, Dovetail,
Trello, Whimsical
8 weeks
February 2022

"The new home for book communities"


Unconvo is a social startup for young readers to organize and foster connections away from bustling social media.


The Unconvo team noticed low user activation due to the site’s limited features. Besides the home feed, users had no way of engaging with one another.


A key differentiator between Unconvo and their competitors, I built the end-to-end design of discussion groups (called “Nooks”) for their existing site to increase user activation and engagement.


Founder - Gabriel Tomitsuka
Design Lead - Amy Lima (Pinterest)
Design Manager - Liz Wells (Squarespace)
Engineer - Sofia Sicat-Wawrzyniak
Front End Developer - Mikhail Andreev
Product Designer - Noëlle Pouzar

Nooks serve as intimate, smaller discussion groups that allow for social connection between Unconvo users.



Conducting my own user interviews

After sorting through 1 year of research by the Unconvo team, I conducted my own research to gain a better understanding of user needs for Nooks.

Through interviews and surveys, I connected with over 40 Gen Z fiction readers who are either Unconvo users or current members of online groups for readers. I compiled all research into this empathy map.

Bookclubs? Lol no thanks.

Most GenZ readers are uninterested in joining a bookclub environment because it feels like school and they don’t have the time. Users also expressed that activities like silent reading groups sounded boring.

Discussion groups often elicit social anxiety, isolation, and safety concerns.

Most GenZ readers are uninterested in joining a bookclub environment because it feels like school and they don’t have the time. Users also expressed that activities like silent reading groups sounded boring.

Users are normalized to gamified interfaces.

I facilitated an exercise with a group of five GenZ readers to quickly jot down what they associated with online communities.

Through this activity, plus an overwhelming response from survey participants, it was evident that gamified features on social media and interactive video games are the most favorited methods of online social engagement.


Advocating for users with disabilities

In my survey, many participants expressed that having ADHD and anxiety influenced their reading habits and comfort within online communities. I shared this finding during team meetings and design feedback sessions, especially throughout ideation.

As designers we are required to build language, content, and features that foster an accessible, encouraging experience to all users.


Applying current user data to build a collaborative feature within Nooks

Utilizing the data on Unconvo’s user activity and imported Goodreads lists, I proposed that Nooks have a feature that combines each Nook member’s lists together to create one, curated list of books. Lists titled “Must Read” and “Book Favorites” offer community connection among the group.

What this solves

- Collaborative bonding experience
- Allows for more passive user engagement
- Utilizes Goodreads integration
- Resource hub, promotes books to focused audience

This feature can expand further into creating custom, collaborative lists where members can upvote books.

Gamifying discussion boards

Because research suggested a high demand for interactive features, how might we gamify Nooks to increase user engagement and stand out from competing discussion groups?

Equity issues with rewards-based tracking systems

Gamifying Nooks must be approached with care and caution. Interview participants overwhelmingly mentioned that points-based video games increase their stress level and fear of getting kicked out of a team if they aren’t active enough. Plus, people want to read what they want and make reading feel fun, not like a social obligation.

Placing Nooks on the main nav

Since Nooks are the primary feature to enhance user engagement and directly ties with Unconvo’s mission as a platform, Nooks must be accessible via the main nav. Users can also find their Nooks through their profile.

Task Flows


Introducing Nooks on the current dashboard


Briefly explains what Nooks are and what a user gains from joining one.

Tone of voice

Warm yet motivating, using words like “intimate” and  adds to Unconvo’s empathic and warm branding style.


Language clarifies next step and adds desire to join.

Developing an onboarding strategy

After users select Find Your Nook CTA, they are directed to their My Nooks page where all joined groups will be located. For onboarding, I designed six suggested Nooks that users can join, all based on current user data and survey responses.


Breaking down a Nook’s info page


Briefly explains what Nooks are and what a user gains from joining one.

Member Transparency

User research highlighted need for transparency in who is a member/admin and size of group.

Community Rules

Before joining a Nook, ever user must read the community rules crafted by the admins of the Nook. I created this template for admins to use as a standard. These four rules are in based on research findings.


Written based on user surveys and market research to help users find Nooks that fit their interests.

Users can also use the search bar on Unconvo to find Nooks based on the Tags selected by admins.


MVP Prototype for Nooks

My prototype is annotated to walk you through my process specifically on content design and ux writing.

View Prototype

Beta vs. Alpha prototypes

My involvement as product designer included building V1 for the beta site, while also heavily ideating what Nooks will evolve into. I wish I could share more of the latter  - but, alas, NDAs.

Co-designing in different time zones

Communicating with a design team in four different time zones was tricky. Clarifying communication preferences helped increase efficiency and overall ease in working together.

Advocating for inclusivity

While ideating with the design team on immediate and long-term feature ideas, I conducted extra research on potential accessibility issues that may arise with certain ideas. My approach was not only to highlight these concerns with data, but to also have conversations as a team on how we hold ourselves accountable for the virtual environment we design.