Improving Usability for Scam Information and Prevention Site


The company I worked with owned a scam information and prevention site. The site is content heavy and is paid for primarily by ads. The site owner had never worked with a user researcher before.

Through a stakeholder interview, I discovered that users were not staying on the site for very long and many were not returning to the site. The site owner had made some design decisions based on Google Analytic data.

I provided a brief overview of what user research is and how it could help them understand why users were leaving the site which will lead to better design decisions.


Users are leaving the site quickly and not returning.

What I Did

As the solo user experience researcher on this project, I executed the following:

  • Analyzed Google Analytic data to understand how users were coming to the site and their actions on the site.

    • This helped show the user demographics, how users arrived at the site, and how users navigated the site.

  • Conducted 6 unmoderated usability tests via Userbrain to understand users pain points and overall experience with the mobile and desktop version of the site.

    • Since users were not staying on the site for very long and many were not returning to the site, a usability test would provide the most helpful data for understanding why.

  • Created 4 user personas and journey maps to capture the typical site users.

    • The user personas and journey maps were constructed based on Google Analytic and usability test data.

    • These helped the client understand common pathways in and out of their website and consider needs and pain points of these different types of users.

  • Shared 3 key actionable insights with the stakeholder to aid in the website redesign.

Usability Testing Tasks

  1. Take a look at this site and tell us what you think it is and your impressions of the site. (Scroll up and down the page but please don’t click on anything yet.)

    • -- What kind of content is offered on this site?

    • -- Who is this site intended for?

    • -- What do you think of the overall design of this site?

  2. Rate how trustworthy you feel this site is. Please explain why you selected that response.
    (1) Very Untrustworthy (5) Very Trustworthy

  3. You want to view an article about phone call scams. How would you go about finding that on this website? Do that now.

    • How difficult/easy was it for you to complete that task?

  4. Click on one of the articles and skim the article content. Scroll up and down on this page. What is your impression of the article page?

  5. Based on your skimming of the article, rate how trustworthy you feel the article content is. Please explain why you selected that response.
    (1) Very Untrustworthy (5) Very Trustworthy

  6. You want to keep up with the latest scams. Sign up for this website's newsletter.

    • How difficult/easy was it for you to complete that task?

  7. Describe your overall experience with this site.

  8. What changes would you make to this site?

User Persona and Journey Map Examples

Name: Sharon. Nickname: "Giddy Googler". 32 years old. Part-time Nurse Practitioner. Based in New York. Primary device: mobile phone. Bio: Sharon recently transitioned from being a full-time mom to working part-time as a nurse practitioner at a clinic outside of New York City. They love being online and are constantly searching Google about anything that pops in their head. They often share information on Facebook and other social media with friends and family. They enjoy reading on the web and don't spend a lot of time verifying information they find and share online. Needs and expectations: quick access to information. Pain points and frustrations: hard to find answers to their questions; extensive ads are ruining their experience. Journey map: user starts with a Google search that leads them to an article on the website and then quickly abandoning the site.
Name: Dennis. Nickname: "Guarded Grandpa". 73 years old. Retired electrician. Based in Florida. Primary device: desktop computer. Bio: Dennis worked as an electrician until they were 70. They live in a community with a large elderly population. Some of Dennis' friends have been the target of scams. Dennis wants to be aware of common scams to warn others. They feel somewhat comfortable with technology but still struggle to understand sometimes. Needs and expectations: constant updates on potential scams. Pain points and frustrations: difficult to know which articles are most important. Journey map: User does a google search for information on scams. This leads Dennis to the website homepage. Dennis then clicks on an article and reads it. Dennis then signs up for the newsletter. Dennis returns to the site from the weekly newsletter.

Key User Pain Points (and representative user quotes)

  1. Users were overwhelmed by the amount and organization of ads on the site which significantly disrupted their experience.

"I think because of all of the ads on here and it just looks very cluttered, honestly it looks like a scam site."

  1. Users were frustrated with the lack of a clear navigation system, making it difficult to find information.

"It took a long time to find out where to go and there was no great filtering for [finding information]."

  1. Users did not feel the site was trustworthy when they first encountered it; however, they felt the article content was trustworthy.

"I feel the [article content] is trustworthy, just the ads in it made it feel a little less trustworthy."

Actionable Insights

Ads (site revenue is dependent on ads, but when ads dominate the page, users leave)

  • Adjust placement and number of ads, especially on article pages to disrupt the reading experience a little less

  • Could conduct some A/B tests or additional usability tests to see how users react to different placement of ads

Website Navigation

  • Add a menu with article categories or filters

  • Move search bar to top of page

  • Reorganize home page

  • Could conduct card sort to determine good navigation categories

Website Trustworthiness (a website dedicated to helping people avoid scams should feel trustworthy to users)

  • Add links or citations to sources and claims in the articles

  • Adjust number and placement of ads, especially full screen and pop-up ads

What I Learned

Stakeholder Buy-in

It was really helpful to work with a client that was new to user research and had some hesitation about its effectiveness. This helped me to find ways to explain, and more importantly, show how important it is to listen to actual users. In my communication with the client, I shared videos from the user testing to demonstrate the pain points. Seeing a user's frustration and difficulty in completing certain tasks on the website made the value of user research much more clear to the client.

Usability Testing Protocol

My first iteration of the usability testing tasks was too complex. I was asking the users to think about too much and the users had to keep going back to the instructions to remember what they were supposed to do. I split some of the tasks and feedback we needed into more discrete tasks and that lessened the cognitive load for the user testers and helped them focus on giving good feedback instead of making sure they understood the task.