Usability and Interface Design for Community Partners


By: Tor DeVries and Evie Caldwell

The fall 2019 section of DTC 478: Usability and Interface Design taught by Tor de Vries included a large-scale client project. From October onwards, the class was broken up into five groups of about five students apiece. Working with WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement, each group was assigned a community partner in need of a website redesign: iBelieve of the Palouse, Lincoln Middle School Boosters, Sojourners Alliance, Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation, and White Spring Ranch.

The needs of the partners ranged from simple and minor formatting changes to completely new sites, so each group faced different challenges throughout the project. The student teams worked through a complete web design research, development, design, and implementation process, ultimately creating a detailed report and a working prototype web site for each client.

Prototype Site for iBelieve of the Palouse
The iBelieve student team presents their work and prototype site.

iBelieve of the Palouse is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent suicide by helping young people form connections in the community throughout the Palouse. iBelieve’s student team created a more visually appealing layout for the content on their existing website. They also fixed the organization’s broken calendar page, making it easier for people to find and attend events.

Prototype Site for Lincoln Middle School Boosters
Karen Tevik (at right), director of LMS Boosters, with her student team.

Lincoln Middle School Boosters helps to support the Pullman middle school’s events and extracurricular activities. Currently, the Boosters club hosts its web pages as part of Lincoln Middle School’s website, but in the near future need to launch and maintain their own separate web site. In short, they needed a completely new site. Students working with Lincoln Middle School Boosters created a fresh look and identity for the club, while maintaining important elements from the school’s site, like its main blue color scheme. The team added pages for all the club’s key needs, including financial support, volunteering, and more.

Prototype Site for Sojourners Alliance
Steve Bonnar (at front), director of Sojourners Alliance, in discussion with his student team.

Sojourners Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Moscow, Idaho, aiming to confront the barriers that lead to hunger, homelessness, and poverty through direct intervention in the community. The organization provides intensive case management and a safe and comfortable living environment for those in need. The existing website for Sojourners Alliance was very sparse and difficult to navigate, so the students assigned to the organization created a more modern layout, added supplementary content for people searching for assistance, and implemented more effective functions for handling donations and events.

Prototype Site for Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation
Charice DeGuzman (center), Executive Director of Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation, with her student team.

Mack Strong’s Team-Works Foundation provides a mentoring program to empower disadvantaged youth and their families in indigenous, minority, and impoverished communities. The students paired with the foundation redesigned their existing site to be more user-friendly. They added reformatted disorganized content, new plugins, and suggested fixes for the website’s branding problems. “I think they nailed it after our first meeting. They asked a lot of pertinent questions and were able to address all of our major concerns,” said Charice DeGuzman, Executive Director of Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation.

Prototype Site for White Spring Ranch
Diane Conroy (at left), director of White Spring Ranch, with her student team.

Lastly, White Spring Ranch is a museum and document library whose collection dates back more than a century. The nonprofit organization maintains a historical farm, organizes and preserves the site’s collection of artifacts, and works to make them more accessible to the public. The existing website for White Spring Ranch had not been updated since the early 2000s and was in desperate need of a full redesign. Their student team built a prototype of their new website from the ground up, integrated their existing social media, and proposed a more efficient management system for their extensive archive of content. Currently, White Spring Ranch is adding content to their prototype site, with the intention of launching it soon.

Each group presented their finished website redesigns on December 6, 2019, in the Bundy Reading Room. The community partners were happy with the results, and some will be moving forward with the sites designed by the class. Lincoln Middle School Boosters, Sojourners Alliance, and White Spring Ranch are all currently looking into launching their websites.

Have a community partnership opportunity you’d like to share with the Digital Technology and Culture program? Feel free to fill out this form and we’ll get back to you about possibly partnering with your organization.