Seeking user feedback to improve Elsevier’s mobile journals

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

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 haveyou been using your mobile device? Funny how advanced mobile technology hasonly been available for less than five years, yet it’s already an engrainedmeans for accessing scientific and medical journal information. Now thatgestures and the long scroll have become second nature, do you want moreadvanced features for reading mobile journals? What things doyou wish you could do?

Here’s yourchance to work with a product development team at Elsevier to help prioritizeimprovements to the mobile apps behind 165 of our journals

From our userfeedback surveys and interviews, we found that the main things people want areeasy access to previous issues, finding the PDF, being able to search acrossjournals, and being able to link through to related articles – or find thearticles that cite the one they’re interested in.

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

Do you wish youcould do these things — or others?

Here’s yourchance to work with a product development team at Elsevier to help prioritize improvementsto the mobile apps behind 165 of our journals. The Elsevier journal-brandedmobile apps have been designing enhancements from user insights the last fouryears. Elsevier has conducted several rounds of user testing to establish thecurrent app interface. The journal branded mobile app team is now looking foruser insights to help us determine future interface enhancements.

Top 5 features for users

In our surveys and interviews, we foundthe 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 workingon prioritizing user feedback to improve Elsevier’s mobile journals:

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

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

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

What is the time range of this project?
We arecurrently collecting insights from end users to shape our future plans forproduct development. We would like to conduct interviews this summer andexplore user interface designs with end users this fall.

How can I apply?
Pleasecontact Chad Carpenter at

Meet the team

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

Colleagues fromfour 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


Related story

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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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