Ted McDonald


Periodic Table of Elements

Process & Findings

To better understand my target audience, I surveyed 24 students from both high school and college. I also conducted three interviews with chemistry students at the University of Washington and a usability study with nine participants.

I discovered a few major themes. The first is that students want educational tools to adapt to their learning habits and devices. Many periodic table apps force students to use a certain platform or lock their viewport into specific orientations.

The second theme is that few periodic table apps adopt accessible design principles. For example, information may be difficult to read on small screens or colorblind students struggle to differentiate element groups.

Based on findings from my research I sketched lots of ideas for how to best represent the periodic table on mobile.

Due to the fact I had to deal with 118 elements and a tight timeline, I decided to prototype the layout in a browser.

Using JavaScript templates, I populated 118 element placeholders onto the page with minimal effort. I found two quality JSON data sets for periodic elements, which I combined and used to populate my element placeholders, saving me the time of having to input information manually.

Students want educational tools to adapt to their learning habits and devices.

Next Steps

I continue to update the app and gather feedback from current student users. My next feature update will include the ability to sort element tiles.