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My team and I are developing a book reading/Bible app, and we want the user will be able to switch chapters.

We are considering implementing it in one of two ways:

  • By dragging past the end of the chapter at the top/bottom and then releasing, with a hint that it will load the next/previous chapter.
  • By swiping left or right across the screen.

Which of these is best for switching chapters/sections in a book or document? And would it be a good idea to implement both for users who like one way or the other? It seems to me that there should only be one way to access a feature in an app so as not to confuse users.

  • The answer depends on what UI actions you are already using to turn the pages (or is each chapter scrolled continuously?) Are you looking for a separate action to skip whole chapters? – Kevin Borders Jun 10 '14 at 3:33
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Changing chapter is a major operation, which should be handled with care. A swiping motion changing chapter is in a way careless, since users who accidentally makes the swiping action will be completely lost. Therefore I thing your best option is to use a standard hamburger menu containing the chapters and possibly subchapters as well.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

While reading you could make the menu toggle show/hide with a simple tap on the text. This makes it possible to use the whole screen while reading.

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And if your app has a chapter name appeared anywhere you may use it for navigation too:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

It will be more convenient since it allows user to jump to any desired chapter and not the next or previous only.

Swipe is good for go to next/previous page so I don't think it's a good idea to use it for chapter switching, but if you're still considering chapter switching using swiping, you may think about two finger swipes.

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The bible is a book, so I would go with the skeuomorphism of that. Left & right swipe to "flip" the chapters.

Also if your mental model of your reader is that every chapter is a new "page" and the content of the chapter will be scrolled / read vertically. Then the swiping to the next chapter is the solution for your problem.

Because these days there is so many reading apps out there and quite a few different patterns exist, you should definitely test it if your users understand your mental model.

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