A team of students from the University of Washington’s Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) program partnered with Nordstrom, Inc. to conduct usability tests on the desktop website. These tests were focused on the core shopping experience, which includes user searching for or browsing items, using filters, sorting, and other functions as necessary, navigating to product pages, adding items to their shopping bag, and initiating the checkout process.

A total of 9 participants were tested as part of this study. All 9 participants represented potential customers. The tests were conducted remotely over Zoom with members of the HCDE team fulfilling the roles of moderator and notetakers. Throughout the test, participants were asked to think-aloud, providing a running verbal commentary of their thoughts, feelings, and experience as they interacted with various features of the website. Each participant’s screen, as well as webcam video/audio were recorded for each session to aid in data collection and analysis.

The sessions themselves consisted of a pre-test questionnaire, pre-test interview, 11 tasks which represented various user flows within the core shopping experience, post-task questionnaires, and a post-test questionnaire. The combination of these methods resulted in learnings and observations related to participants’ goals and experiences when shopping online, the ease or difficulty of accomplishing various tasks using the website, the participants’ overall experience using the website, and specific recommendations for design improvements.

The data and observations from the sessions resulted in 4 major usability findings, the presentation and discoverability of customer reviews, confusion between the Save For Later and Wish List features, difficulty of purchasing multiple quantities of items, and inconsistent behavior of the filter bar. Each usability issue identified was also assigned a severity rating, frequency, and scope, to help communicate the urgency and prevalence of the findings.

Further details and substantiation for each of these findings are provided, as well as specific design recommendations to address them. By understanding and addressing these findings, has the opportunity to improve the user experience of their desktop website, and in turn directly support their business goals and company values.