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Unlocking Global Literacy: Enhancing Words Without Borders' Mobile Interface


Words Without Borders


Freya, Evelyn, Trisha, Sanjana


February 2024 - May 2024


Google Analytics 4, Hotjar, Tobii Pro, Figma, Zoom


Quantitative Researcher, 

Qualitative Researcher,

Test Moderator

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Words Without Borders (WWB) is an online global magazine focused on bridging a gap between readers, writers, and translators across the globe. WWB offers various genres of writing for readers to enjoy. They publish fiction, poetry, essays, and other literary works, often focusing on themes of identity, migration, and social justice.

In the year 2022, Words Without Borders relaunched their website in hopes of creating a more dynamic experience for their users, but they did not find it to be very successful. The aim of the project is to improve the mobile website design to enhance user experience and audience growth and to conduct a comprehensive audit to pinpoint design flaw.


Establishing purpose

From our initial client meeting, we understood WWB team's main focus areas for the research.


The Homepage


The Article Page


The Search Feature


The Multilingual/ Multimedia Feature

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Keeping these areas of focus in mind, we established the goals for this project:


Gain insights into how users are currently interacting with the website


Identify opportunities to enhance user engagement and encourage prolonged stays on the website


Evaluate user navigation and archive experience to enhance website usability and content accessibility

Providing direction and flow

In order to achieve the project goals, we streamlined our process as follows:


Initial client meeting

Research plan development

Behaviour analytics

Eye-tracking study

Data analysis and interpretation

Findings and recommendations

Formulating a research plan

To provide a sense of direction for our behavior analytics, we combined the focus areas and goals of the project to form our research questions:

What areas of the homepage and article pages attract the most and least attention from mobile users?

What is contributing to the high bounce rate on the homepage on mobile devices?

How do users typically interact with the search function on the mobile platform?

... and this helped formulate our goals for data analytics.


Understand how users are interacting with content on the mobile website


Gain a general understanding of the WWB's current mobile website performance

Analyzing overall users' behaviors

After laying out the foundations for our research, we used Google Analytics 4 and Hotjar to collect some preliminary findings that would form the basis for our eye-tracking study.

*mobile specific data from GA4 for the duration July 2023 to March 2024



Total mobile users


1:47 secs

Average mobile session duration



Average mobile engagement rate


Combined device categories

vs. 2:34 s

Combined device categories

vs. 46%

Combined device categories

Majority of mobile users (nearly 23% of the total users) were young adults of the age group 18-24 year old and we also noted that WWB had a larger female user base as compared to male. We continued to dive deeper into the individual focus areas mentioned earlier to unravel opportunities for performing user testing.

Majority of mobile users (nearly 23% of the total users) were young adults of the age group 18-24 year old and we also noted that WWB had a larger female user base as compared to male. We continued to dive deeper into the individual focus areas mentioned earlier to unravel opportunities for performing user testing.

Following are the main findings from a comprehensive behavior analytic study:

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Less than 25% of users scroll to the bottom of the homepage

Due to the length of the homepage, very few users end up making it to the bottom of the page (only 13.8%). 


More Mobile Users are Viewing Articles, but Engage 25% Less than Desktop Users

Mobile Average Session Duration: 

54 seconds

Total Average Session Duration: 

1 minute and 13 seconds


The Writing Piece Metadata Does Not Translate Along with the Piece

When the article description and metadata is not translated along with the article, this could result in increased frustration, especially for non-english speakers. 

Testing the interface 

Referring back to our research questions, we began our recruitment process for the eye-tracking study by sending out a survey consisting of questions regarding general reading preferences and screening questions (since the eye-tracking software didn't accommodate for accessible reading devices). The survey was circulated within the Pratt community, posted on our individual LinkedIn accounts, and linked in WWB's newsletter.

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We shortlisted a total of 8 participants - 2 existing users and 6 new users, within the age group of 18-24 years old. 7 participants were enrolled in an academic program while the remaining participant was a working professional.


We employed Retrospective-Think-Aloud (RTA) technique for the eye-tracking study where users were asked to perform the tasks without any distractions and asked to walk through their process while showing them a screen recording of their test. The test was conducted using Tobii Pro Lab and lasted for about an hour.

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The eye-tracking study followed a four-step process that began with pre-test questions, followed by the main scenarios and tasks, post-test questions and System Usability Scale (SUS) questions, respectively.


Go to the homepage of Words Without Borders and explore for 2 minutes. 

Find a piece of fiction writing that can be read in more than one language

How many poems on the site talk about friendship and were originally written in Spanish?

Find a genre that interests you and identify an author that has multiple works within that genre.

To ensure robust findings and recommendations, we combined qualitative insights from test recordings and RTAs with quantitative measurements using three tools. After completion of the eye-tracking studies, we observed the following results:



Overall Task Completion Rate



Overall Task Completion Time



System Usability Scale (SUS)

What worked well and what didn't...

  • All eight users expressed positive feedback regarding the website's style, font choice, and overall appearance, finding it visually appealing and engaging.

  • Six out of eight users expressed satisfaction with the website's search filtering functionality.

  • All users enjoyed having no interruptions, like paywalls, while exploring the site’s contents.

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Good news first! Here are a few things participants enjoyed on the mobile website:



Tags are hard to find and understand

Only 37% of users successfully located a multilingual article on the site. Users found the "multilingual" aspect of articles challenging to search for, lacking a clear indicator. Additionally, one user was confused by the term "multilingual," while another expected all articles to be available in multiple languages.

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Change the label position and context

For improved clarity in content tagging, we suggest:

  • Redesigning labels and placing them atop images to aid user visibility.

  • Providing specific labels for content, such as changing "Multilingual" to "French" or "Chinese" and "Multimedia" to "Voice" or "Video."

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Users are confused with multiple dropdown options on search page

Six out of eight users found the advanced search filter feature very helpful, yet they anticipated having access to it before their initial search. Moreover, users expressed confusion regarding the relationship between the "Learn" tab and the search feature.



Give recommendations and memorize history  

To enhance the site's "explorability," offer additional methods for users to discover new content. Implement trending searches when users click on the search bar.

Combine filter tab and promote key feature at tab menu

Simplify the all three “Filter” options and make it appealing to user, and the promoted feature “learn” as an individuare tab to attract user’s attention



Lengthy Homepage

The homepage is overloaded with information for the following reasons:

  • Article cards feature large thumbnail images and descriptions.

  • Content alignment varies inconsistently.

  • The "Browse by topic" section only displays one genre at a time, requiring users to click the arrow multiple times to navigate through the list.

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Reorganize Homepage

To enhance homepage readability:

  • Limit article cards to 3-4 per screen.

  • Clearly delineate sections, each containing a maximum number of articles.

  • Display only metadata on article cards.

  • Elevate "Browse by Topic" by positioning it higher on the homepage and showing all genres simultaneously.

  • Maintain left alignment for ease of reading.

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Lack of Link Visibility

Only 2 out of 8 users observed that key links, such as author names on articles, were clearly visible. Users encountered difficulty distinguishing between regular text and links on the site due to their similar appearance.

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Highlight Links

  • To enhance link visibility, we propose adding an underline and a contrasting background to make links more apparent to users.

  • To ensure clear differentiation and reduce accidental clicks, we've increased the spacing between the writer's name and the translator's name, providing ample space around them.

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Limited Information Hierarchy

Users noted that exploring genre sections/ article lists was difficult due to a lack of filters to sort the articles. 

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Filter Options For Genre Page

By adding a filter at the top of the page, users are given an easy option to explore the page before getting overwhelmed with their options. 


The Filter can be categorized as a "sort by" in the individual genre pages, such as "Latest" and  "Most Read" to allow users to filter articles based on their preference.

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Finally, we presented our research results to the Words Without Borders team along with a one-page visual summary of the GA4 analysis made on Looker Studio that provides responsive data.

The client appreciated the insights and expressed their eagerness to implement our recommendations that would help them achieve their goals!


A look into our collaboration between the two teams (desktop and mobile) and the clients


This project had two teams - one for mobile (my team) and another for desktop and we had to collaborate throughout the process to make sure the client requirements were met. This provided us with an opportunity to facilitate close teamwork while still working towards individual team goals.

Participant recruitment can be a very tedious process. From the survey we circulated around, we received around 300 responses within two days. We were overwhelmed by the response but later came to a realization that most of the responses were spam. The two teams had to go through individual responses and eliminate fake responses. 

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