- UI & UX Design
- Swift & Java
- iOS & Android
- Custom API Integration
Harlequin — the romance-focused division of HarperCollins — is a household name in publishing. Founded in 1949, they’ve been a leader in traditional publishing for over 70 years, with over 6.8 million books sold. But as the popularity of the internet exploded in the early 2000s, offering readers a new medium to explore, Harlequin recognized the need to become a leader in another space: digital adoption. They realized that although readers didn’t want to carry thick paper books everywhere, most kept a phone in their pocket. So in 2015, they came to Iversoft with an idea.
One of the challenges we faced was keeping up with the pace of platform developments in multiple operating systems. We didn’t have the expertise or bandwidth to anticipate what the required changes might be in the app to ensure compatibility with new devices and operating system versions. Having Iversoft monitor all the changes coming from both iOS and Android, and proactively addressing those issues and releasing new app builds accordingly has ensured that our app is always up-to-date and operates well for our customers.
Harlequin wanted an app to introduce more people to their authors and get them excited about romance stories. We developed Book Breaks, an iOS and Android app that gives romance lovers access to hundreds of free serialized stories.
Knowing how much Harlequin values delivering entertaining and unforgettable experiences, we focused our design around reader convenience. Users can search for new content by how much time they have to read, the author, or their current mood. And because stories are serialized, readers are encouraged to come back frequently to check whether new installments have been posted. When they’re done reading, users can also share their favourite stories with family and friends on social media through a direct share button.
Because the app’s content needs to be refreshed regularly, we had to make it easy for Harlequin’s marketing team to manage content. We designed a custom content management system (CMS) that would allow anyone on the team, with any level of digital content management experience, to select which stories to feature in just a few minutes. By integrating analytics, data capture, and reporting functions, Book Breaks also provides the marketing team with actionable insights about the themes, topics, titles and authors that resonate with specific demographics.
The launch was a success! But, after years of bringing joy to a growing base of dedicated readers, Harlequin knew they needed to update their app to keep pace with new tech trends and software capabilities. In 2019, they went back to the team they knew could pull it off: Iversoft. Harlequin asked us to help them achieve three goals.
- Improve user experience & user interface (UX/UI).
- Increase engagement.
- Introduce monetization.
We leveraged Apple’s Auto Layout update to better optimize the user interface for a variety of screen sizes and to improve scalability. We also made a few changes to reflect new user experience (UX) best practices, including moving the navigation bar, clarifying wording, updating content, and redesigning search results.
Keeping their readers engaged requires Harlequin to constantly push out new content. Although we made it incredibly easy, it was taking a little more time than they could dedicate. We gave them more time back in their day by automating random selections of featured content to refresh every 2-3 days. This content can be overridden when they want to promote something specific or feature themed content over the holidays. However, new content only increases user engagement when people know it’s available. So we also automated push notifications to let them know.
Instead of monetizing the app, Harlequin initially used it to filter readers to other platforms, like their website, where purchases are available. While this was a great strategy when they started because it gave early adopters a chance to explore without interruption, they’ve gained enough users over the years to make monetization an important next step. To achieve this goal, we created a feature that suggests similar eBooks or other paid content within the app when a reader finishes their story.
- +45,000 downloads on Apple App Store and Google Play Store
- 80 countries with users
- Featured in Oprah Magazine
- Engaged user base leading to average app session lengths higher than industry benchmarks