Pubmed — Biomedical Literature

Chai Creatives
6 min readJul 10, 2017

Pubmed, a very well known and widely used biomedical literature search platform.

Design Process

User Research

Setting up a task list to understand :

  1. The ease, in understanding the current platform.
  2. Experience psyche of the user.
  3. Pain points faced by a user while searching for a medical information.

I conducted a 15–20 mins of user research survey with 4 users(2 monitored and 2 unmonitored test).

Following survey list were provided to the user :

  1. Search about any medical condition .
  2. Search symptoms for that particular condition.
  3. Go to page 8.
  4. Search for diagnosis for that condition.
  5. Filter the result showcasing articles of February 2017.

Then had a discussion with the users on following points :

  1. What was the emotional conditions after you got the result for your medical condition search?
  2. As you searched for your medical query, what kind of result you expected?
  3. Page navigation to 8, How was your experience going to that 8th page?
  4. How long did you take to realize that you have successfully landed on the 8th page?
  5. What steps did you take to find the diagnosis?
  6. What was your experience filtering the search result ?
  7. What would the ideal filter actions that you would use for a particular search be?
  8. Screen has been divided to A,B,C,D

a) Which all sections did you interact with?

b) What features would you like to see/use in pubmed?

Screen segmentation

Design Objective — Phase 1

  • Building positive psyche experience for users.
  • Avoid users from getting distracted from their main goal i.e finding information.
  • Easy discovery of information i.e when user reads the search result, he should have clear explanation.
  • Simplified navigation, since all the survey user faced issues while navigating through pages.
  • Easy filter application.
  • Better way to showcase “result by year” section.(citation)
  • Precise search of an article.
  • PDF discover-ability.
  • Login experience.

Quick Sketches and Ideas

Quick Ideations

A quick napkins sketch to get out all the ideas.


Search result

Search Result

Suppose, a user named Rohini searches for a medical term say “Sinus”. She’ll first sees the short description(definition) about the medical term. By reading this she can judge if this is the exact term she is looking for or not.

Rohini then can browse the image and on clicking on “more” can view more images.

She can also browse “other conditions” so that she can decide which is that exact term she is looking for. She can hover over “headache” and read brief about it. She can click on that “headache” if that’s what she is looking for instead of “sinus”.

Rohini will by then build positive psyche as she came here for information and we have given her the same without taking much of her time and in an easy to access flow. We are also building an experience where an irrelevant article should not be shown to her.

Instead of “items”, now we say “2,300,400 articles”. On the right hand side Rohini can now sort “Abstract and Full text”. The free and paid tag can be mentioned over the article itself making it easier and time saving for Rohini to decide.

Hover on other conditions

Hover on other conditions

Find Article

Find Article

“What if I need to read xyz article published by abc author?”, this was the question one of the survey user asked.

Solution: Click on “Find article” CTA in the search box and refine out the search result as per your need. User can make use of this functionality and get the precise article he/she is looking for. User can also look for an article having specific keywords.


Sign In

During the research, user came across certain features which required signing in. User’s were frustrated when they saw unexpected forceful Login page.

Forceful login is a negative psyche experience. User needs to perform an action which is not distracting from reading information. We needed to convert it, it to positive psyche. So we added this experience that when a user hovers on “Sign in” lets show them all the set of features he/she will unlock after login in. It will motivate user and will also give a reason to sign up if he/she is not registered.

Add to Library

Add to Library

If user likes an article, he can add that to his personal collection right from the same page. On clicking the CTA, a pop up will appear, with his present collection details. User can also create a new collection from the same pop-up window.

Search Result Display

Search Result Display

When user searches for a term, he’ll first see a non-technical title(defination of the term). The second most important thing i.e. author’s name with the publication and the published date right below it. Next few lines are dedicated to a brief description of the article. This will help user understand the context of a particular article and because of this user can decide if he wants to : a) add the article to library . b) Read related articles. c) Click on PDF.

Tags (eg : Symptoms, Diagnosis) are visible on the card so that users who are not familiar with the terms, publications and author can understand what is the article about.

“result by year” was citations throughout the year which all users were confused about. Instead we can display citation article-wise. User now will know exact citations of each article. User can know more on click of the link.



Users were not able to recognise the filters functionality.

Creating a separate area on the screen that includes all the filter interaction creates no cognitive load for users. Without thought users can start browsing this section if they want to refine the search result.


Creating a very simple to read UI so that users don’t have hard time reading an information.The page has to look clean and the interactive points should be very clear to the user.

search result

search result

Find a Article

Find a Article

Sign in

sign in

Add to library

Add to library