Estelle Van de Velde


I published my first book in 2021 on all the platforms I could get a hand on. But as time went by, sorting the accountancy was a nightmare: there were just too many platforms to get book sales information from! Why couldn’t I get an app that would collect all the data from the various platforms and deliver the results in one neat analytics dashboard? That’s where the idea of the Book Sales Tracking app came from. Even better: I wasn’t the only author interested in such a tool. So I got into work…


This app was the final project of my UX/UI Web design bootcamp. In the three weeks that were allocated to it, I had:

  1. Created 35 designs affecting 12 screens;
  2. Surveyed my key audience for the features they’d like to have in the app;
  3. Live streamed 8 times while working on the project, on my YouTube channel;
  4. Changed the design of the user interface completely twice.

My role

I was the main designer on this project, as it was part of my UX/UI design bootcamp’s curriculum.

Skills and tools used

  • UX Design
  • UI Design
  • Market research
  • User persona
  • User journey
  • Moodboard
  • Style guide
  • Wireframe
  • Information Architecture
  • Prototyping
  • Figma


Three weeks

four screens displaying some of the possibilities of the book sales tracker app

The process

1. Research

I first needed to research the audience of my design project and their needs. So I started out by creating a survey that I sent to multiple author groups I was a part of. It led me to collect around fifteen completed forms, which confirmed and taught me many things about how exactly authors wanted to use their book sales information.

I also checked out the competition if there were any. And I discovered that a few apps and desktop apps actually existed, but they were only collecting book sales information from Amazon KDP, not the other publishing platforms. Odd, isn’t it? What would be the usefulness of tools like these if they were not collecting data from other platforms? The answer came from developers I interviewed to check on the feasibility of the project: it would be highly difficult to work with the APIs of that many publishing platforms and to combine all the different data in just one dashboard. In summary, it would be hell of a job for the developers. But you know what? “Highly difficult” doesn’t mean “impossible”.

2. Define

From the data collected through the audience survey, I created three user personas. The primary one was a professional indie author with multiple platforms to monitor. The secondary one was a hobbyist author, exclusive with Amazon. And I created a third one, who was an anti-persona, focused on writing and tracking their number of words. Of course, the last one was not taken into account in the ideation phase but was useful in defining what the app was not doing.

I then determined two main scenarios that would define the key features. From there, I designed the information architecture of the whole project. It would entail an obvious main analytics dashboard, but also a backlist tab, an accountancy tab, an add button and a profile page.

3. Ideate

As an indie author myself, I was very familiar with the industry. I created a moodboard around clean note taking aesthetics and coffee shops, which originally gave a nude colour palette that wouldn’t be working. I knew I needed some accent colours so I turned to stationery aesthetics with pencils and washi tapes especially. It gave me the basics of the colours I’d be using in the design phase. But I was only looking at this stage.

When it was time to work on the wireframes, I got inspired by other apps like Fitbit or banking apps to see how they would display their data. That’s also when I discovered Mobbin and its library of apps’ screens from all over the world. It saved me hours of research.

Displaying data on a screen was actually the hardest part of the app. As a designer, you’ve gotta have it right. It needs to be: simple enough for you to navigate all the data, customisable so the user is not drowned in all the data, and readable to know exactly what you look at.

4. Design & Prototype

It’s not because the wireframes are “completed” that you won’t change anything. And believe me: I changed a lot of things from the original wireframes. I’ve conducted user testings that would make me change bits and pieces. It made me think about the whole user journey and resulted in major changes through time.

When it came to the user interface, I went back to the moodboard I had originally put together and used the nude colours. However, I soon realised this wouldn’t look very modern. So I went back to the drawing board and selected other colours that would create a very different look and feel. The app would be modern and professional. A tool to which users would be glad to come back to and use often.

When all the screens were ready, I built a prototype in Figma that would show the entire two scenarios I initially thought about. But I also built a general prototype which could be used by anyone wanting to test the project.

focus on the analytics dashboard of the book sales tracker app
focus on the logo of the book sales tracker app

What I’d do differently if I had more time

In all honesty, I don’t think the Book Sales Tracker app will ever see the light of day. It would use too many resources from development, especially the back-end side of things. However, I still think this app would be a game changer for self-published authors as it solves one of their biggest issues: figuring out book sales quickly. It would free their time, which would then allow them to focus on writing–the essence of what an author does.

Anyway, if I had more time, here’s what I’d do differently:

  • Design a desktop app instead of a smartphone one. This project was my bootcamp’s final assignment, and I had to complete it within three weeks. I realised, late into the game, that it probably might make more sense to create a desktop app rather than a smartphone app. But then, it was also making sense that the app would be available on the phone for in-person events. Maybe the phone app could be less complicated to use and the desktop app could simply be the full version of what the project entailed.
  • I probably shouldn’t have used a survey for research purposes. In a recent article, Maddie Brown writes: “Even though surveys may be faster and cheaper than other research methods, they are not suited to all research goals.” Yes, I only had three weeks to work on this project with no budget. Yes, surveys are cheap. But did I ask the right questions? Shouldn’t have I run interviews instead? I’d have researched the best way to get information a bit better if I had more time.

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