Day of PW | Specification Document

Designing the interaction experience for an online community-building game.

My role

I am the lead interaction designer for Michigan State University's "Day of PW"— a community-building event where professional writing (PW) students and faculty post pictures and descriptions of the work they do for one day as a way of drawing attention to our work. Although this event has existed (in different formats) for years, this is the first year we are attempting to build an online game that uses quests and challenges to motivate participants to share more data using a hashtag (#DayOfPW15) to collect and centralize data. I am in charge of designing the user experience around that game and working with developers to oversee the building, testing, and refining process. 

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To see what we're dreaming for this project, look at our functional specification document. Updates will be made to this document as the project evolves.

Investment Company | Heuristic Evaluation

Aligning design mockups with best practices for user experience.
Image is intentionally blurry to honor a non-disclosure agreement with the client.

Image is intentionally blurry to honor a non-disclosure agreement with the client.

my role

Our company was contracted to conduct a heuristic review of a large investment company's customer portal prototype. I conducted an independent review using Nielsen’s heuristics to provide usability and user experience recommendations to the client’s development team. Performing this expert review allowed our team to identify significant usability issues that would have negatively impacted customer use. I reconciled my independent review with the findings from two other reviewers.These usability findings were compiled in an extensive report and were delivered to the client at a large face-to-face meeting with regional and national executives.

key takeaways

This expert review project refined my skills in:

  • Applying best-practices heuristics to real-world client designs.
  • Compiling and reporting expert review data into unified and cohesive reports.
  • Presenting the results of user experience research in ways that are meaningful to many different stakeholders.

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Because of client confidentiality, materials from this project can only be seen upon request. Send a request to access materials from this project.

Human Resources Department | Usability Evaluations

Making design recommendations that are built on data from actual users— not just opinions.
Image of annotated screenshots and task notes is intentionally blurred to honor non-disclosure agreements with the client.

Image of annotated screenshots and task notes is intentionally blurred to honor non-disclosure agreements with the client.

my role

Our team worked with a client to conduct usability tests of a prototype human resources portal with three key user groups. I assisted in developing usability test scripts, task scenarios, and surveys used in usability sessions.  In these usability sessions, I asked participants to complete key tasks within the prototype system. I then took notes on places users experienced difficulty and confusion. These notes contributed to a subsequent report that was delivered to the client’s development team within a few days of data collection. Data from this usability study will be used to inform subsequent versions of the system.

STOP BEING NOSY, STAN :)

key takeaways

Working on this project allowed me to develop skills in

  • Agile reporting of usability research data.
  • Designing usability session scripts and survey materials.
  • Facilitating and recording usability evaluation test sessions.
  • Creating actionable recommendations for system design and development based on usability research data.

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Because of client confidentiality, materials from this project can only be seen upon request. Send a request to access materials from this project.

Professional Writing Program | Focus Groups

Learning from users by listening to their stories.

my role

I was asked by Professional Writing program at Michigan State University to help them learn more about how students select their major and what types of content is useful/persuasive to them in the major selection process. Therefore, I am conducting a series of focus groups with professional writing students where we will talk about how students selected their major and get their reactions to current professional writing promotional materials. Results from this research will be used to improve the program’s branding and recruitment efforts. 

key takeaways

Hosting these focus groups will give me experience:

  • Writing focus group scripts to collect relevant user experience data.
  • Managing a team of user researchers.
  • Presenting the results of focus groups in ways that are useful for program revisions.

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Because this project is still in development, deliverables will be made available as they are, well, made. Contact me to get updates on where we're at with this project.

Julian Samora Research Institute | Accessibility Review

Applying WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines to real-world client websites in order to make sure everyone can access information.

My role

I was the lead accessibility reviewer for the Julian Samora Research Institute website. I worked with the client to select a number of pages for review and then evaluated those pages against WCAG 2.0 guidelines. I delivered a report to the client that outlined the results of our evaluation in terms that were understandable and actionable and that were ahead of project deadlines.

key takeaways

Completing this accessibility review taught me more about:

  • Applying WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines to real-world client websites.
  • Explaining the significance of accessibility guidelines in ways that are understandable by the client.
  • Creating a set of actionable recommendations for enhancing the accessibility of client websites.

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Because of client confidentiality, materials from this project can only be seen upon request. Send a request to access materials from this project.

BEACON Research | Contextual Interviews

Conducting contextual interviews and observations to identify user experience concerns.

BEACON_Logo_May_2010.png

my role

I worked as a consultant with a research lab on campus who had developed a complex in-house scientific research program. I conducted contextual user interviews with target user groups to collect feedback on what was/was not intuitive about the program interface. This feedback was then used to create user-centered documentation that addressed the concerns of current users. The documentation was also written in less domain-specific terms so that non-expert users could perform basic operations in the program.

key takeaways

This consulting project in user-centered documentation gave me practice in:

  • Listening to user stories in order to improve the user experience.
  • Conducting contextual interviews and observations to identify user experience concerns.
  • Producing documentation that allowed the product to be used by new target user groups.
  • Articulating complex information in ways that would be useful and understandable to non-expert audiences.

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Because of client confidentiality, materials from this project can only be seen upon request. Send a request to access materials from this project.

KORA | User Documentation

Providing support for users that is understandable and designed to fit their needs.

my role

I created a series of tutorials on how to use KORA, a content management system for digital museums. These tutorials were based on user research and were written using best practices for technical communication. Previously existing versions of documentation for the program had been written by system experts and the documentation reflected a system-centered approach to organizing and describing key user tasks. In the revised documentation, I adopted a user-centered approach by organizing content in  the order users would encounter tasks and describing processes in the user’s language.

Key takeaways

While working on the KORA documentation project I developed skills in:

  • Talking about domain-specific subjects in users’ language.
  • Working with developers and programmers to understand how a system works and translating their ideas into user-centered terminology.
  • Producing comprehensive documentation that can be broken down into specific modules.

Government Agency | Information Architecture

Sorting and naming website content so that users can quickly locate the resources they need. 

Image of sample dendogram from the card sort study is intentionally cropped to honor non-disclosure agreements with the client. 

Image of sample dendogram from the card sort study is intentionally cropped to honor non-disclosure agreements with the client. 

my role

I worked as part of a team tasked with revising the information architecture for a large governmental organization. I audited a significant portion of the site content and helped prepare cards for an online card sorting activity with two key groups of user stakeholders. I worked with the client to develop focus group scripts and recruitment screeners. Later, I  helped facilitate focus groups with two key user groups and developed interim reports for the client explaining where our team was in the research progress and validating our research claims. Finally, I helped prepare tasks for the candidate information architecture validation study and assisted in writing the final report to the client.

key takeaways

Being a part of this information architecture project taught me how to better:

  • Present complex data (i.e., thousand-entry Microsoft Excel spreadsheets) to clients in meaningful ways.
  • Work collaboratively with remote teams.
  • Facilitate and moderate user focus groups.
  • Conduct online card sorting activities and analyze the results.
  • Create candidate information architecture validation tests that provide useful feedback for refining site structure.

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Because of client confidentiality, materials from this project can only be seen upon request. Send a request to access materials from this project.

MATRIX | Content Strategy

Creating content strategy documents that allow organizations to store and retrieve information more efficiently.

my role

I was hired to perform a detailed content audit and revised information architecture for an organization’s internal wiki. The wiki was the main place for knowledge transfer between employees but it had been operating for several years without any formal organization structure or content strategy. I audited each entry on the wiki, making notes where I saw outdated or duplicated content. I then proposed an information architecture for the site which was refined in meetings with client stakeholders. Once the revised information architecture was implemented, I created a brief content strategy guide that lives in the wiki and helps direct staff members with where best to place new content.

Key takeaways

Revising the MATRIX wiki information architecture allowed me to develop my skills in:

  • Balancing various stakeholder needs and best practices for information architecture.
  • Auditing content of large websites in a systematic fashion.
  • Creating content strategy documents that allow organizations to store and retrieve information more efficiently.

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Because of client confidentiality, materials from this project can only be seen upon request. Send a request to access materials from this project.

 

Are We Open? | Persona & Requirements Gathering

Collecting user research so that designs are based on user needs, not just on what looks good.

my role

Are We Open? is a mobile application designed to help foster more transparent and trusted snow day related school opening and closing decisions. As a member of the design team, I took a lead role in creating personas, writing use case scenarios, and developing a list of system requirements based on user data. Through stakeholder interviews and social media analysis, we were able to create and test a low-fidelity prototype. We are currently seeking further research and development opportunities. 

key takeaways

Working with Are We Open? allowed me to develop skills in:

  • Translating user stories into design requirements.
  • Collaborating with other interaction designers.
  • Developing data-driven user personas, use cases, and system requirements.
  • Presenting the results of user research to stakeholders and potential funders.

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The official Are We Open? report, which includes the results of our user research and low-fidelity mockup usability testing, is available for download as a PDF below.

Download the PDF copy of our report.

PromptMe | Lead User Experience Designer

Developing an application from start (user research) to finish (funded development).

My Role

I am the lead user experience designer for PromptMe, an instructional technology that prompts meaningful conversations between students and instructors regarding assignment sheets. PromptMe is built on data my team and I collected on how students and teachers interact with assignment sheets and was refined through intensive user research, including: focus groups, contextual interviews, linguistic analysis, and use case observations. Although it began as a course project, PromptMe has been selected to receive start-up funding through an entrepreneurship and is currently in development. Once a functional prototype is built, our team will be working to conduct extensive usability tests of PromptMe in writing classrooms at Michigan State University.

Key takeaways

The PromptMe project has given me experience:

  • pitching design ideas to potential funders and securing start-up funding
  • creating functional mockups using Adobe Illustrator
  • conducting user research
  • translating user research into actionable design plans
  • collaborating with a small, diverse team

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Play with our interactive mockups for PromptMe:

  1. Teacher views (creating an assignment sheet review)
  2. Student views (evaluating an assignment sheet)
  3. Teacher views (collecting student feedback on assignment sheets)