Methods Used

Goal Setting
Heuristic Analysis
Usability Testing

Tools Used


Three Users:
1) An aquatic therapy patient who desires to find a pool that meets their aquatic therapy needs and book reservations for that pool.
2) An owner of a facility who desires to represent all features and benefits of their aquatic facility and attain reservations.
3) An administrator who desires a safe, efficient, and organized way to facilitate and manage connections between facilities and users.

The Challenge

Aquatics Empowered is a platform to connect patients needing aquatic therapy to swimming facilities that are available for use. Facility owners or managers can make their pools or spas available to patients interested in participating in various levels of aquatic therapy. Patients are able to view and book reservations to use available facilities. The developers of Aquatics Empowered gave us this objective: to evaluate the usability of the product, identify key areas for improvement, and propose recommendations to the development team.

The Approach

Through thorough heuristic analysis of tasks this website should be able to complete we were able to identify the areas that needed improvement for our users. We conducted a usability test to evaluate and prioritize pain points. Finally we used Axure to prototype a solution to these pain points and submitted our findings and suggestions to the developers of Aquatics Empowered.

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View the New Aquatics Empowered Prototype Here


We began this process by identifying the goals of Aquatics Empowered and it’s users.

AQUATICS EMPOWERED’S GOAL: Aquatics Empowered desires to help aquatic therapy patients find facilities that meet their needs and to help facilities with pools gain more traffic.

PATIENT’S GOAL: Desires to find a pool that meets their aquatic therapy needs and book reservations for that pool.

FACILITY OWNER’S GOAL: Desires to represent all features and benefits of their aquatic facility and attain reservations.

ADMINISTRATOR’S GOAL: Desires a safe, efficient, and organized way to facilitate and manage connections between facilities and users. (Due to time restraints we prioritized General User & Facility Owner because they make up the majority of users.)

Knowing these goals we decided on a set of tasks the users should be able to accomplish on this website.

Tasks for Patients: 

  1. Find a facility with a pool that meets needs.
  2. Register for an account.
  3. Reserve a time slot for a pool & manage those reservations.

Tasks for Facility Owners:

  1. Register for an account.
  2. Understand “Level System”
  3. Add available time slots to facility.

We then did a heuristic analysis of those tasks on this website to identify what portions of the website we knew would work or fail without having to test them on people.

Heuristic findings:

  • Flexibility & Use: Many options were missing such as an inability to compare facilities, no way to report a facility or user for misconduct, no way to delete user account or facility account.
  • Aesthetic & Minimalist Design: Many buttons, checkboxes, and type boxes are uneven, too small, or not central. They are still visible but not enjoyable to use.
  • Feedback: Feedback was inconsistent. There are some commands that give feedback and some that do not. Example: While registering, if user’s passwords do not match the website alerts you. However if user does not fill every field and clicks “Register” nothing happens to let them know the fields are required.


Next, we moved the the evaluation portion of our study. We did a usability test with 13 total participants. 3 in person, 10 remote.

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Our team decided on scenarios that we gave our participants. These scenarios encompassed the tasks that we knew the users should be able to accomplish on this site.

Patient Scenarios:

  1. You recently had hip replacement surgery and your doctor recommends you participate in a low impact exercise, such as swimming. You’re looking for a time slot next week. You would prefer to exercise in the morning, in a quiet place, and near The Mall of America where you work. Show me how you would do this on the website.
  2. You later decide that time slot does not work for you. What would your next steps be?

Facility Owner Scenario:

  1. The pool you own is empty every Tuesday in May from 8-11AM. Your facility is suitable for novice swimming, walking, and running. You would like to bring in more business. Show me how you would make your pool available to people with aquatic therapy needs.

We took shared notes and synthesized our data. Here are the findings we submitted to the developers:

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This link takes you to an updated prototype of the changes we suggested in our findings:

We would suggest testing the changes we’ve made using this prototype, refining changes, and then making the changes to the official website. This will cost much less and move much faster in the process of trying to make this website usable and meaningful!


What was challenging? Working on a team of people who have many opinions and very little knowledge of what we are doing made for a challenging case study! Our team worked through a lot of tension and disagreements and I found it challenging to listen instead of talk.

What did you learn? I learned a lot on this case study, but one thing in particular that stands out among the rest is how vitally important it is for a UX Designer to establish well defined goals very early and very often.

What might you do differently next time? Next time I would take what I learned from this assignment and establish well defined goals earlier in the process of note-taking, especially as a group. Our team did not have a clear plan for how we would categorize our notes on the usability tests and this made it very difficult to look through our raw data.