white usable.tools logo with smile lockup


UX Designer


4 months


Adobe XD

Empowering High-Risk Persona Access with Usable.tools Relaunch

dark usable.tools logo with smile lockup

Winter 2018 to 2019 Usable.tools
UX Designer

As an Internews’ UX Designer, I spearheaded the design and relaunch of Usable.tools involving reimagining user experience, cross-functional collaboration, and integrating key user insights.

In this capacity, I restructured the platform’s sitemap for intuitive navigation, integrated branding elements that aligned with Internews’ identity, and made it easier to access persona information via basic search functionality. I crafted interactive prototypes for user testing and feedback, optimizing the platform’s usability and credibility. Furthermore, I developed personas for both developers and Internews team members, streamlining user flows and ensuring adherence to brand guidelines. The relaunch of Usable.tools marked a significant contribution to Internews’ mission and demonstrated my ability to create impactful solutions through comprehensive research, collaboration, and user-centric design.


πŸ“‹ Overview

Internews frequently collaborated with developers to create encrypted communication tools for journalists residing in countries with highly-volatile governments. However, the Internews team responsible for consulting developers lacked sufficient time and resources to thoroughly analyze at-risk personas. To have a significant impact on the development of these products, Internews needed to be involved at the right place and time in the product development cycle while dealing with a resource-constrained team.

πŸ‘€ Stakeholders

For this project, I was in continuous communication with the project manager of the Usable.tools project and the contract WordPress developer as questions arose. The main source of feedback would come in a bi-weekly meeting from the project manager as they were the ones who would gather internal feedback from additional teams that would consult directly with outside developers. From these meetings we would sort feedback into groups based on the potential amount of time and resources it would take to complete and its relative importance to the success of the project.


⚑The Challenge: How could we create a platform that efficiently presents at-risk personas to developers and stakeholders at companies whose products are used by journalists in highly-volatile regions?

πŸ”’ Constraints

1: One-month period for the initial design

2: Platform must be easily accessible to external companies and organizations

3: It should be easy to update, even by non-technical team members.

4: Minimal training should be required for using the platform.

Previous Usable.tools website (2018)


πŸ” Approach

I gathered requirements data from the Internews team and ran a heuristics evaluation the existing website. The previous website had navigation issues, lacked cohesive branding, and made it challenging to find specific personas.

πŸ”‘ Key Insights

1: The website navigation was unorganized and hard to find what users wanted. The navigation bar also utilized unconventional dropdowns in the primary button (“Home”) revealing additional pages of the website.

2: Team members and users of the website noted that they were unsure if the website was truly associated with Internews or if it was a false website pretending to be a part of Internews.

3: There was frustration on the Internews team that there wasn’t a clear way to promote conferences and summits that developers might be interested in attending.

Design Process

🎭 Internal Persona Building

At the start of the project, we built-out personas for both the developers who’d be using the platform but also the team members who’d be the ones maintaining and updating the website. Since this was a relaunch project to make corrective changes, these personas were continually referenced to ask the questions “would this make sense to Kendall?” and “if Kendall wanted to print and share these with his team, where would he look?”.

πŸ—ΊοΈ Updating the Sitemap

As this was one of the key pain points from both team members at Internews and developers who used the website, reorganizing the site’s navigation and information was one of the primary focuses of the project. The sitemap’s updates were driven by both the personas and feedback from the Internews team.

Previous Usable.tools sitemap (2018)

Updated Usable.tools sitemap (2019)

πŸ“ Exploring Wireframes and Designs

When approaching the wireframes and designs for this project, it was requested that the pieces of the website should be robust enough to be repurposed in other contexts. Knowing this, my approach was to componentize each element in my wireframe and design documents as I was creating them and act as if I were the individual maintaining the website while building out the initial pages. Doing this helped me push forward while limiting the need for surperfluous elements and refactoring designs that would end up optimizing the time and resources the developer needed for the updates to the site.


πŸš€ Launch

The initial launch of Usable.tools witnessed significant improvements in the user experience and trustworthiness of the information provided. Matching the branding of the parent organization Internews, leveraged their credibility, and team members who shared and maintained the site also noted a significant positive shift in perception from developers when walking them through the website and the persona features.

🎨 Brand Guidelines

A truly beneficial artifact that came out of this project was the brand guidelines. Team members found the guideline to be a vital piece to their finalizing process, allowing them to do a quick check to see if the content and visuals they were producing kept in line with the brand.


🧠 Mental Models

Understanding the mental models of developers was crucial. If accessing at-risk personas was not made straightforward and time-efficient, developers might not prioritize exploring this information. The success of Usable.tools was in delivering a “need-to-have” platform rather than merely a “nice-to-have,” which was achieved through seamless usability and efficient organization of information.

As a UX designer, I am proud of my role in creating Usable.tools, a platform that fosters collaboration between Internews and developers, making a positive impact on journalists’ safety in highly-volatile regions. The project showcased my ability to conduct thorough research, collaborate effectively, and design with a user-centric approach. Through this experience, I further developed my skills in understanding user mental models and delivering intuitive solutions that meet users’ needs effectively. The launch of Usable.tools marks a significant contribution to the mission of Internews, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.