A social e-reader app. Meet you in the margins.
What could Threadable be?
We imagine a product where people can leapfrog from book to book, reading across texts and across time for deeper understanding. Inspired by synapses, cityscapes, and libraries, the Upstatement and Threadable teams are ready to shape this concept into a digital product. To kick off the research process, we designed what a future marketing site would look like if this product already existed. In focus groups, we learned what appealed to our target audience with little more than a headline, a description, and the question: “Would you download this app?”
Through workshops, focus groups, and research, we’ve narrowed the universe of possible functionality down to three ideas:
- You can read a book with groups of friends, like a virtual reading circle.
- You can read a book with expert commentary, like a director’s cut.
- You can read in “thread mode” where passages from multiple texts are strung together to form a new narrative.
Let’s make a giant prototype and see what works.
Sharpening the focus
We’ve whittled our prototype down to just reading with small circles of friends. This smaller feature set is enough to go to market and continue iterating. Someday the app could include everything we envisioned, but for now, we’re going to focus on just the viable, desirable, and feasible.
What even is a page?
The ability to open a book and turn a page is table stakes. That seemingly simple interaction has prompted numerous questions and driven a lot of our technical research. What file format are e-books in? What counts as a “page”? How do we teach users to turn pages in an otherwise vertically-scrolling UI? How do we hyphenate text? How do we show reading progress? How do we make this e-reader better than existing products that have had years to evolve? TAP OR SWIPE TO TURN THE PAGE? We’re making lots of documents, and we’re starting to find answers.
To TestFlight we go
After months of research, designing, and coding, we’re finally ready to push our app to TestFlight. This will prepare us for an eventual App Store release and gives us a way of doing deeper user testing. Meanwhile, the Threadable team has been growing their library of books. Some of the most compelling, relevant books in the public domain are now readable on the app.
App Store or bust
We’re quietly deploying regularly to the App Store as we iterate through sprints. We’re using this time to refine what we have and are starting to plan for the next batch of work on our roadmap. We only have a few reviews for now, but five stars is still five stars. ★
We also helped Threadable stand up a basic landing page to test messaging and gather e-mail addresses of people who might be interested in doing some user testing with us.
Adding guided commentary
What if a historian could be in the margins of Twelve Years a Slave with you and your friends, offering context and perspective? We’re starting to build the next major area of work: layering guided commentary on top of reading circles. To power this, we’re improving our custom backend admin, which leverages the same tech as the native app. It’s where guides can write and manage their profiles and commentary, and it also surfaces user analytics.
Preparing for a marketing push
We’re taking a close look at competitors and are expressing Threadable’s unique offering on a marketing site (a big upgrade from our early landing page). Threadable will use the new site to speak to three key audiences: readers, guides, and publishers. The site will promote app adoption for readers, and will be an entry point for guides and publishers who want to join the platform.