Removing roadblocks to NACD U

My Role

UX & UI Designer


CSG Creative



Browse the case study


The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) provides best practices, educational resources, and industry representation to businesses and professionals who work in chemical distribution and handling. It strives to ensure the chemicals so vital to modern life arrive safely, securely, and where they are needed.

Today, NACD has 400+ member and affiliate companies who provide products to over 75,0000 end users.

Businesses may register for NACD membership for access to greater business, networking, and educational opportunities, including NACD University (NACD U).

NACD U is an online learning platform that employees of NACD members may use to complete technical training courses. This training helps:

  • Share industry and regulatory knowledge;
  • Increase employee performance;
  • Increase productivity; and
  • Decrease safety incidents.


How might we make it easier for chemical facility and operations employees to enroll in NACD U technical training courses?

Although NACD U training offers many benefits, enrollment rates are low.

Users came to the NACD U landing page through visiting the NACD website, opening an email link, or clicking an ad.

However, analytics showed very few people successfully traveled from landing page to the portal to enrollment.

I needed to evaluate the NACD U customer journey to determine how we can improve it and offer UX recommendations to help people complete enrollment in the training courses.


Me, UX/UI Designer

Wendy McCool Lewis, Director
of Digital & Account Strategy



Figma • Miro


Cognitive walkthrough

Journey map



Assessing screen-by-screen

First, I reviewed the enrollment experience screen by screen to assess fit with the target audience. Following best UX practices can help users complete basic tasks, go quickly through the process, and overall feel satisfied with their experience.

I found that NACD U courses have critical findability issues that may negatively impact overall discoverability. The UI treated many different content types the same; presents confusing signifiers for user action; and was overall inconsistent.

  • EX#1. Ominous, “warning” red NOTE: may cause users to hesitate to click the critical Enroll Now button to progress towards their goal. (This might doubly alarm this particular audience as well: red and magenta colors label hazardous materials they may encounter in their day-to-day.)
  • EX#2. Create Letter and Log In buttons look like they’re in a disabled state.
  • EX#3. NACD U is spelled “NACDU” on login page.

As a result, I determined new users may not recognize NACD U course information even exists. Furthermore, even experienced users must deeply navigate to locations to which the UI design does not call attention.

Identifying enrollment roadblocks

I assessed NACD U’s webpages for ease of use in a cognitive walkthrough.

I wanted to see the impact of issues from my screen-by-screen assessment had on task completion. Was there a bottleneck that slowed down users? Was there a Moment of Truth that cause users to completely abandon enrollment?

“Easy to learn” webpages would ensure even new, inexperienced users successfully enroll.

The cognitive walkthrough helped me determine that often next steps looked unclear due to an unclear information hierarchy and imprecise CTA language.

  • EX#1. User may also instead seek out course offerings and/or a particular course description before enrolling in one.
  • EX#2. User may confuse Enroll Now! button for the Code XII course teased above the button. Or, they may confuse the Enroll Now! button with visual elements from the video thumbnail above.
  • EX#3. The user may not realize they’re getting closer to enrollment when entering the login screen. This page has weak signifiers to assure the user: NACD U is spelled differently, matching imagery is missing, and the page switches from asking the user to enroll to login instead. If the user was seeking more info prior to enrollment, they may back out of this step.

I found these errors to be critical.

  1. The user was unlikely to navigate from the NACD U landing page to the portal login.
  2. The user was less likely to complete login into the portal.

Since users cannot complete enrollment without logging in, these findings suggest many users would fail the task.

Looking for opportunities to build trust

The earlier cognitive walkthrough helped me determine what’s stopping users (actions). Now, I created a customer journey map to determine what’s frustrating users (feelings).

This assessment helped me conclude:

  • Users likely have difficulty discovering NACD U through NACD’s social media channels.
  • NACD U landing page uses results-oriented language that likely appeals to managers in some areas and in other area, language that appeals to employees, especially the Justification Letter.
  • Users might abandon the task if they can’t browse educational offerings before committing.
  • The 3rd-party portal into NACD U lacks clear navigation and information hierarchy. Users would benefit from priming messaging on the NACD U landing and/or login splash pages.

Redesigning for access & clarity

I re-designed the on-site pages to provide greater access to high-value content previously hidden by a paywall (i.e. membership registration). Since users want the browse the offerings before making a decision, the course catalog and sneak peaks are now available upfront.

The Justification Letter, once a form at the bottom of the landing page, now occupies its own page. As a result, it’s more skimmable and mobile-friendly.

Additionally, the NACD U login page not only provides stronger NACD U branding to make it easier to identify, it also allows users direct access to the login screen they need.


I evaluated the NACD U customer journey to determine where employees were encountering roadblocks while trying to enroll in online training courses.

I found there were many opportunities for bringing high-value content to the fore-front and for clarifying the next step at each point in the on-site process. 

Responsive desktop and mobile wireframes offer a stronger UI design and easier browsing experience.

Next Steps:
A re-designed landing page would enable the client to use SEO and SEM tactics to bolster visibility to their NACD U courses and to the NACD association as a whole.

View on Figma


The streamlined nature of this project meant I wasn’t able to conduct as much user research as I would’ve liked to validate my assumptions. However, the research uncovered many pain points we can now follow up on with usability testing and ideation. I also felt that my agency moved to a more user-centric mindset and is now more excited to do research in the future.