ToxServices: Scientific Assessment Application

Bringing a scientific evaluation online in an approachable, useable way.

ToxServices is a third-party reviewer for the US EPA’s Safer Choice Product Labeling program.  Their customers are manufacturers of a wide range of cleaning, household, and personal care products.


The Project

ToxServices chemists developed a product evaluation tool using an excel spreadsheet.

They wanted it built into an online application that would be offered as a free tool from their website, with the goal of driving more traffic to the website and generating new business.

My Role & Challenges

The ToxServices programmer couldn’t figure out the css code for vertical labels and called me in a panic. He was convinced we needed to create a graphic for each one. But, I noticed many more usability problems than just fixing the vertical labels…big things like…

  • Instructions and evaluation information were out-of-sight down at the bottom of the page!
  • Multiple layers of headings on the matrix were visually cluttered
  • Definitions of numerical values were separate from results, forcing users to have to search for what their results meant
  • No corporate branding
  • No links or calls to action for promoting related services or products

Very confusing tool! It hadn’t even occurred to ToxServices management to get a UX person involved.

The Results

After a quick user analysis, I put together a series of recommendations that would:

  • Orientate the user from the “get-go” so they don’t feel completely lost
  • Provide visual clues to steps if the user decides to jump right in without reading the directions
  • Clean up and format so that the user doesn’t feel overloaded with a process that requires many inputs
  • Brand the application so it is clear to the user what company is providing it
  • Provide clear and direct links for follow-on consulting and evaluation services.

I provided the HTML/CSS code for the programmer to implement.

Original Spreadsheet Prototype provided by client

Resulting Assessment Calculator Page