Product Development

Seeking user feedback to improve Elsevier’s mobile journals

Elsevier colleagues work with members of the research community to improve platforms and products

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The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) multi-journal app enables cardiologists to access articles in a single app. Most Elsevier Journals are mobile optimized and many are available as native apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.How long have you been using your mobile device? Funny how advanced mobile technology has only been available for less than five years, yet it’s already an engrained means for accessing scientific and medical journal information. Now that gestures and the long scroll have become second nature, do you want more advanced features for reading mobile journals? What things do you wish you could do?

Here’s your chance to work with a product development team at Elsevier to help prioritize improvements to the mobile apps behind 165 of our journals

From our user feedback surveys and interviews, we found that the main things people want are easy access to previous issues, finding the PDF, being able to search across journals, and being able to link through to related articles – or find the articles that cite the one they’re interested in.

People also want to be able to synchronize across mobile devices. For example, you can find an article on your smart phone, scan it on your commute, and there it is on your tablet when you’re ready to read it in bed. Even better, you can access all the journals you read in through same app.

Do you wish you could do these things — or others?

Here’s your chance to work with a product development team at Elsevier to help prioritize improvements to the mobile apps behind 165 of our journals. The Elsevier journal-branded mobile apps have been designing enhancements from user insights the last four years. Elsevier has conducted several rounds of user testing to establish the current app interface. The journal branded mobile app team is now looking for user insights to help us determine future interface enhancements.

Top 5 features for users

In our surveys and interviews, we found the following to be the top 5 most important features are:

  1. Access to the PDF
  2. Images and Figures
  3. Search
  4. Reading articles while connected to a network
  5. Archives

Our user feedback has shown that there are many things we could try to do, but we want to know which to focus on – and those would be the ones that are important to users. And rather than assume we know what users want based on what they read and click on, we want to ask them directly.

What is user experience testing?

User experience testing is an ongoing process for developing products and enhancing them. At Elsevier, we do it in various ways: online surveys, phone interviews, and even observing people use our online products in person.

Early user input on the ELS mobile journals helped us resolve interface navigation and presentation issues on both the iPhone and iPad. We’ve been able to increase the font size, widen the column width, padded the line spacing, streamlined access to previous issues, and improved search across journal issues.

We’ve also completed a user survey with 200+ participants to identify key functionality desired from mobile journals. The survey participants also rated the performance of Elsevier journals in the key functionality and the performance of mobile journals from other publishers. From these insights we’ve identify the priorities of end users in reading mobile journals, where Elsevier is succeeding with mobile journals and where we can improve.

The next rounds of user experience testing will focus on the Android phone and tablet versions of our mobile journals, as well as forthcoming content innovations in the supplemental materials supplied by authors to complement their research. We’d also like to get user insights to help us prioritize the UI enhancements we’d like to pursue in 2016.

How you can give user feedback

We’re working on prioritizing user feedback to improve Elsevier’s mobile journals:

Who qualifies?
We’re seeking participants who access one of the 165 journals published by Elsevier on the journal branded mobile apps.

What’s involved?
User testing can be done with online surveys, as well as phone interviews or in person. You can decide how you would like to participate.

How much time will it take?
There are various options to give feedback, ranging from short surveys for journal members and subscribers to a 45-60 minute in-person or remote interview per round of testing each quarter.

What is the time range of this project?
We are currently collecting insights from end users to shape our future plans for product development. We would like to conduct interviews this summer and explore user interface designs with end users this fall.

How can I apply?
Please contact Chad Carpenter at

Meet the team

Aju Mathew, Sheenam Aggarwal, Gemma Deakin, Rebecca Green and Chad Carpenter

Colleagues from four departments are collaborating on this initiative:

Product Management: Aju Mathew, Director of Product Management, Mobile Apps Platform; Sheenam Aggarwal (Product Manager)

Research: Gemma Deakin, Research Manager

Marketing: Rebecca Green, Marketing Communications Manager, Mobile Apps

User Centered Design: Chad Carpenter, Senior User Experience Specialist


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Elsevier Connect Contributor

Chad Carpenter

Chad Carpenter is a Senior User Experience Specialist for Elsevier. He has been with the User Centered Design team since 2003. His focus has been on understanding the information needs of health practitioners, such as physicians, nurses and pharmacists. Chad collaborates with designers, product teams and development teams to realize user interface designs that meet end user needs. He has been working in the mobile information domain since 2010.

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