Case Study: Becoming Mobile-First

Author by Leah Shea

5 minutes
Case Study: Becoming Mobile-First

The Background

Founded in 1880, Elsevier is a well-known publishing company, specializing in science and health. Like many other organizations that have been around for over a century, Elsevier recognizes the need to adapt and upgrade its products to meet an increasingly digital world. 

Elsevier Science is a division responsible for publishing educational content, including preparing all types of medical professionals for certification exams. Typically, this content is published in textbooks and hard copy study guides, with an increasing amount available in digital versions.

While the content itself must be transformed and translated into digital versions, it is also important to keep pace with evolving technology. It is not simply physical to digital, but also digital to device.

Physical to Digital Graphic

The Challenge

In the Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN® Exam, 10th Edition, Elsevier sought to expand the digital version of this guide into a mobile-first fully responsive application.

This development is something that is often overlooked - while your consumers are accessing your content digitally, what device are they primarily using? Does your product translate between devices, or are you limiting the ways in which consumers can access and interact? 

Elsevier had to consider: when studying for the nursing exams, do students want to be able to access study guides on-the-go, through their mobile devices? The answer is, yes. And for a variety of reasons, from consumer expectations to device accessibility.

Navigating this space requires careful thought into the technical and user experience elements of a mobile eLearning environment. It is not a simple mimic of a desktop experience - but rather a re-engineering based on the capabilities available.

The Solution

Leveraging the latest in responsive web application development, the Nurses' Certification Exam Review was updated in three key areas: content, workflow, and functionality.


Adds next generation NCLEX questions, allowing students to preview upcoming versions. 


Accommodates defined workflows in different modes - including Study, Exam, and Bookmarks. Study mode displays feedback immediately, while Exam mode is scored and results are stored for later review. Bookmarks mode allows for review of saved questions.

Enables chapter and category selection and reporting within each of the different modes. This workflow allows students to select their focus areas. 

Offers course textbook support, with congruent chapter and naming conventions.


Works across all devices including tablets, mobile phones, and desktops. 

Leverages eLearning techniques, including displaying incorrect and correct answers, rationale behind correct responses, and the ability to bookmark and come back to a question at a later time.

Saves individual student history on exams, allowing students to discover and review areas of improvement. 

Easy to use without the need for walkthroughs or unnecessary help screens and is touch responsive on touchscreen devices.

Multiple Devices Showing Home Screen

The End Result

This solution provided a viable platform for one product line out of hundreds of applications like this one. It now serves as a template for exam review applications moving forward.

We stay attuned to both advances in eLearning and devices, in order to ensure we are delivering highly responsive applications that take advantage of the latest and greatest.

In the end, we reach our ultimate goal with Elsevier: providing an elevated experience to students and enabling content that is more convenient and accessible (so that all students can take their exams successfully and with confidence). 

About this Case Study
Client: Elsevier Science
Publication: Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN® Exam, 10th Edition
Type: Nurses' Certification Exam Review
Author: Zerwekh

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