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Society for Technical Communication: Student Chapter

A student organization at Michigan Technological University that helps students build their communication skills in all mediums.

STC Website



Card Sorting

Usability Testing

Graphic Design

Web Design

Teamwork (3 people)


Google Jamboard

Google Sheets





1 month

The Process

Phase 1: Identifying the Need

I became president of the Society for Technical Communication: Student Chapter in the middle of the

COVID-19 pandemic, and while discussing possible projects the organization could do remotely, we decided to create a club website to document and broadcast the club's projects for years to come. I took the lead on this project, and two other club members offered their support throughout the process. The first thing I did was casually interview our active club members, our club advisors, our leaders in the degree program, and our alumni funders over Zoom about their thoughts on a website. Overall, the consensus was that our benefactors and the university faculty that were not actively involved in club meetings wanted an easy way to view the club's activities while the active members wanted a place to publish their work. With this positive feedback, we moved on to the next step. 

Phase 2: Interviews

The same people who were interviewed for their initial interest in a website were interviewed again about the exact features they wished to see on the website. These features were then compiled as items in a card sort. 

Phase 3: Card Sorting Sessions

After interviews identified a list of potential features for the site, we took note of the duplicate items and then turned every distinct item into an individual card in Google Jamboard. We conducted an open card sorting session with the active club members. I facilitated this session through Zoom and was able to answer any questions that arose as well as instruct the participants to describe their groupings in text boxes within their Jamboard page. 

After familiarizing ourselves with the website, HZH Usability created a plan for usability testing. This document features all of the relevant information we considered before beginning our usability tests. We started by making sure we fully understood the test goals and research questions proposed by the client. Then we made decisions about which representative user groups to target when recruiting volunteers. We used a recruiting script for each participant to ensure every volunteer was given the same information. Next we composed scripts to ensure each user could give informed consent to be tested and could fill out a background questionnaire for our more qualitative statistics. We also created a series of tasks and scenarios and followed them up with post-task questions and a debriefing interview with product reaction cards. Our plan also included plans for what we planned to measure and how. These metrics would include the task completion rate, the error-free rate, time on task, and a few subjective measures. The usability test plan also laid out the conditions for the test environment and the specific roles each member of HZH Usability would take during usability testing. Lastly, this document solidified a schedule for our usability testing day. Some of the scripts are featured below as well as the test plan as a whole. 

Usability Scripts

Phase 4: Usability Testing

We conducted all usability tests for this project remotely through the video-conferencing software Zoom. The team featured one host, one moderator, and one logger. The host's job was to share their screen and keep track of the appropriate documents while the volunteer was performing the usability test. They handled the more technical side of the test and ensured everything ran smoothly from the back end. The moderator was the person speaking to the participant, explaining each step of the process without introducing bias and answering any questions the participants had throughout the test. The moderator also provided tactful nudges whenever the test sessions migrated too far off track or required more expression from participants. The logger's job was to rapidly record notes on everything the participants said and did, including when tasks started and ended, where problems occurred in the expected user flow, and direct quotes from participants. My role for this project was as a logger. Our usability tests were conducted with four volunteer participants: two middle aged women, and an elderly man and woman. The sessions were held back to back and lasted for a total of seven hours. All sessions were recorded, in addition to the live notes, so that we would capture the maximum amount of information to put together our results. 

Phase 5: Results

In our documentation of results, we included a lot of information that we learned from the usability tests. Before we looked at the results though, we started by comparing the demographics of the actual participants to what the expected regular audience for the website would be. We broke down the background questionnaire, task questions, and debriefing interviews. This results document features both quantitative and qualitative data, evaluated and presented in graphs. It also features recommendations, including visual examples, of how the site could be improved based on feedback from the usability tests. These results and recommendations were given back to the client along with a live presentation on the project. 

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