Chemical Search Product A search product that is comprehensive and easy to use.

The Problem:

This organization has one of the largest collection of chemical research papers and patents. It offers all this data to its users via a legacy web app. Recently, the competition started eating its business. Even though the competitors lack premium data, then too because of ease of use of their web apps new users are preferring them.

The Solution:

We reformed the web app by making it more intuitive to use. We did several hours of contextual inquiry and interviews and mapped the user needs and their workflows and based on that we created a newer version of this legacy web app that fits in its audience's day to day work life.


Deasign Lead, Contextual Inquiry and Interviews, Personas and Scenario, Workflow Models, Wireframes, Usability Testing, Axure Prototype


Dan, Amy, Nick, Ken, Lisa

Contextual Inquiry and Interviews

Conducted 5 of 12 interviews.

Some of the key insights:
  1. Users are looking for any tool that helps with understanding material, not just delivering content (i.e. help make sense of what results are given to them)
  2. Users want to manipulate and customize results to help them understand material & reduce evaluation time
  3. Competitors’ advantages are ease of use, simplicity and speed, so users are turning to other tools
  4. Critical “bench chemist workflow” path discovered.

Personas and Scenario

In the persona workshop, all of the designers and the stakeholders came together and re-arranged the user interview notes into key person framework. We developed 6 personas based on 12 user interviews that we conducted.

Workflow Models

Salient Points:
  1. Highlighted the key activities that this tool needs to support.
  2. Identified gaps in our coverage, based on existing research by this organization.


Usability Testing

One of the tasks:
  1. How would you choose and design a synthesis?
    1. Find experimental procedures
    2. Find reactions and/or syntheses
Some findings:
  1. Everyone would be happy to start using this new hypothetical version tomorrow.
  2. There were no concerns about leaving current tool behind.
  3. It looks and feels and behaves like other common experiences (e.g., Amazon, Google, Scholar, WOS, Scopus, etc.) that users have come to expect.
  4. The minimalist search bar and search button indicates to users where to start and how to begin.

Axure Prototype

Chemical Search

Contact: | @SomeshRahul