The Creative Independent


A usability evaluation of The Creative Independent was conducted using two methods. The first was a heuristic view of the interface using Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics. The other method was usability test using a remote testing software.

The Creative Independent
Lead Usability Researcher


Project Goal

Conduct a usability evaluation of The Creative Independent website to understand the current task flows and limitations for typical users.

Key Takeaways
  • Consistency Improvements
  • Implement Chronological Search Results
  • Establish a Hierarchy of Information


  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Accessibility Test
  • Usability Test
  • Integrated analysis

Heuristic Evaluation (Nielsen’s)

Visibility and System Status

Problem: The tabs at the top of the screen that indicate where the user is on the site do not produce significantly different visual cues to inform the user where they are on the website. In image 9, the tab that is selected is “everything” however, the only difference between that tab and the tabs that are not selected is the dotted line that becomes solid when clicked. This could be particularly difficult for people with visual impairments.

Solution: Create higher levels of contrast so users have a clear understanding of where they are on the site almost immediately.

Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

Problem: Getting to the bottom of the bottom of a page is not a quick task on this site.

Solution: A simple “bottom of page button” can be added so users can navigate towards the bottom of a page when needed.

Accessibility Considerations

For accessibility I used the Wave tool that helps identify WCAG errors.

Wave tool results.

Based on this automatic tool there were ten instances of missing alt text, over a thousand  color contrast errors, and a few structural errors present on the site.

Interviews + Usability Test

Chronological search results

Participant 3 and Participant 4 commented on their inability to see the search results based on the date it was published. In the post-test survey participant 4 suggested “Articles could be arranged by dates.” While taking the test he also mentioned wanting to arrange the search results in an order that made sense to him. There was no clear indication if the search results were coming up in descending order or ascending order. For this particular search result there seemed to be no order at all.

Establishing a hierarchy of information

A major interface issue discovered by user testing was the inability to figure out who conducted the interview versus who the artist was. For task 8 users were asked to find the person that wrote the article, all of the participants had assumed they found the right person but in reality, they only found the person that was interviewed.

Participant 4 scrolled to the bottom of the page to figure out if the author's name would be at the end then scrolled back up.

Participant 5 said one of the biggest things that threw him off was that he didn’t “see a header.”

Depending on the organization, figuring out who the artist was having a conversation with may not have been that big of a deal, however since The Creative Independent has specific pages dedicated to all of the articles written by individual journalists, highlighting the writers holds some significance.


The top three interface improvements in no particular order include:

Improving the consistency of the site.

This issue was found from the heuristic evaluation. I would choose this as one of the top interface improvements needed because obvious lacks in consistency confuses users. When a site begins to deviate from the behavior it tells you to expect, using the site becomes significantly more difficult.

Implementing chronological search results.

This issue was discovered through user-based testing. I chose this improvement because on average users took the longest time answering task 6 which necessitated the use of the search function and the results that came up were not chronological, making it nearly impossible to complete the task.

Establishing a hierarchy of information

The last critical interface improvement was discovered through user-based testing. I chose this improvement because all of the users had a difficult time completing task 8 which was a result of how the information was organized on the page. The improved design choices for this issue prioritized identifying what the article was about, who it was about, and who wrote it.