Improving communication between professors and their students. 

Course Email Lists


I worked to design, prototype, test, and improve a workflow that allows instructors to contact their students more easily.  The new function was implemented across campus in the latest version of MyUW.

The Problem

Joint classes are taught by the same professor at the same time but are coded under two different departments, and so are treated as two separate classes by the University.  


UW-IT received complaints from instructors who wanted to create a single email list that includes all the students from both course codes and were not able to do so with the existing functionality.  


These complaints brought up several issues in the existing design of MyUW:




Responding to this complaint was my first assignment in my position as UX Design Student Assistant at UW-IT.


It is not possible for instructors to create a single email list including students from codes of a joint course 


MyUW does not associate joint courses or mark them as such


I was paired with another student assistant to get started designing the new function.  Because the complaint that was filed represented a specific demonstrated need, we were able to jump right into designing a solution.


The first phases of this project focused on finding the best way to display necessary information to instructors.  Since MyUW teaches joint courses as two separate classes, we needed to design a way to indicate that the two course cards were actually part of a joint course.  We also needed to add the possibility of making a joint email list into the existing email-list functionality, which was all done through pop-ups. I worked on my own to brainstorm before coming together with the other student assistant to converge on a feasible direction to work towards.  

Sketches from Initial Brainstorm

Through many iterations, we developed a visual design that: 


Allowed instructors to create joint email lists


Maximize readability and accessability


Maintain consistency with UW visual design and branding

Based on that visual design, I created the following workflows to show how an instructor might create a joint email list.

Workflows show the user's path


After creating a design that we believed would fill the demonstrated needs of the users, the next step was to make those workflows into a working prototype.  I prototyped the system on Marvel Prototyping, which allows users to interact with pictures of the UI on their digital platform.  

The Prototype I Created for Usability Testing


Usability Testing

I designed a protocol for a usability test that used my prototype to evaluate the design.


Evaluate the usability of a modification to MyUW that allows instructors to create a single email list for the jointly offered course


The protocol included several background questions exploring the instructors' experience with joint courses.  It also asked each participant to complete two tasks and reflect on the process.












I conducted the usability testing along with one other UX Designer from the professional staff. We tested the protocol on a co-worker who was not familiar with the project, then recruited real participants.  I sent a recruitment message to a list of instructors teaching joint classes and we conducted the experiment with five participants. I lead the test in half of the sessions and took notes for the other half. After each session, we debriefed the test and discussed the key takeaways from the process.  



At the end of usability testing, we left with the following conclusions:

  • Text-heavy pop-ups make it hard to skim and retain information

  • Participants not confident that they had completed the task correctly

  • Joint card design is not very visible but helpful when seen

  • Demonstrated confusion around checking multiple boxes



The process of usability testing lead us to make the following recommendations:

  • Eliminate some text previously thought necessary

  • Provide detailed feedback in the final message so users know what specific action they have completed

  • Make joint card design more apparent

  • Visually separate radio buttons from circle bullet points


I took those recommendations and went back to the designs we had been using to conduct the usability testing.  I used our findings to reiterate and after another cycle of iteration and feedback, we came up with a design solution that allows instructors to successfully create mailing list for their joint classes.

Task 1

Create a single email list that includes all students enrolled in GH 482 A and HSERV 482 A

Task 2

Create two email lists. One should include GH 482 AA and HSERV 482 AA. The other should include only students from GH 482 AB.


The final deliverable for this project was the implementation specifications for the new function. 


My design was implemented across campus in the updated version of MyUW. | (971) 732 9246

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