Kindle’s Human-Centered Design: A Modern Reading Experience That Reduces Friction

Growing up, the struggle to return public library books was all too real. For starters, it was a hassle to remember when to pick up or return books, I couldn’t mark up the pages, and there was always a limited selection on-site. With Amazon, it has become easier to purchase books with 2-day shipping but overtime it becomes impractical financially and detrimental for the environment. Last year, I invested in a Kindle Paperwhite and since then I’ve become an informal spokesperson for it. Before that, I nodded my head in doubt alongside other avid book readers. No way could an E-reader be better than holding an actual book. I was skeptical until I used one myself.

Lately, my mom’s eyesight has been affecting her ability to comfortably read a book. The text is either too small or the lighting is too dark. With the Kindle, she can adjust the screen brightness, font size, typeface, line spacing, and margins that best suits her. This form of inclusive design enables people like my mom to adjust the text size and screen brightness accordingly. When I read for long periods of time, I personally find the electronic ink display that mimics ink on paper to be easier on my eyes than backlit LCD-based tablets. It’s convenient to adjust the screen brightness when my environment changes. As the“place-onas” change, from sitting on a bumpy bus ride home at night to spending time outside with bright direct sunlight, I can read in comfort.

The highlights, notes, and definition tools on the Kindle enable me to quickly capture thoughts I have after reading a passage or lookup a word all in on interaction. This prevents me from needing to pull out my phone to jot a note or search for a definition. Later on, I can access my Kindle highlights and notes online for reference.

On a flight, I don’t need to disrupt people around me with the built-in airplane light or carry a clip-on lamp if I want to read a book. All I need is my waterproof Kindle that can store up to 1,100 books with a battery that can last roughly 28 hours. The 6.1 oz device is roughly the size of my hand and easily fits in a backpack or tote. Say goodbye to the infamous heavy book bag.

Whether I’m out of town or back at home, I can seamlessly check-out e-books from my public library through Kindle compatible apps like Libby. Any highlights or notes I make are saved forever even with borrowed e-books. I can transfer long class PDF readings to my Kindle. The steps it takes to read comfortably and efficiently significantly reduces.

Even with subtle signifiers (like page turns and numbers) that attempt to emulate a tangible reading experience, in no way does the Kindle replace the charm of a physical book. Instead the Kindle provides a human-centered streamlined experience that reduces the friction for reading while on the move — no matter where.

Interaction design student @_uwdesign. Documentarian. Seattle.

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