Caroline Moran
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Course Projects

Below is a list of my major group projects from my time at SI, all of which were completed as part of a group. Descriptions are provided for each as well as links when possible.

SI 501 – Contextual Inquiry and Project Management (Fall 2009)

This project involved working with a client to examine how they create, transmit, and process information as part of their organization's operations. Our client was the Moraine Elementary PTA from Northville, Michigan. We interviewed several members of the PTA in order to gain insight into their communication methods and evaluate them. We then used our observations to create several artifacts over the course of the semester, which were then used to make recommendations for improvements.

Group: Fantastic Four

  • Sheng Li
  • Alisha McCullick
  • Caroline Moran
  • Heather Norris
  • Kshitiz Singh


We took what we learned from each interview to create sets of five different models that represented our findings. The five types of models were as follows: artifact (materials used by the PTA, such as fliers and newsletters), culture (how members of the PTA interacted with one another and how the group functioned as a whole), communication flow (how information traveled through the PTA in terms of direction and organization), physical (a representation of the space in which the PTA most commonly interacted), and sequence (the order in which events took place/were carried out). These models were then consolidated by type to create an overarching view of the PTA's activities and behavior and reveal the structure of the group's activities.

Team and Individual Consolidated Models

We had to chose one set of the models to consolidate as group and analyze for a report. We chose the consolidated sequence model for this report because it was the most detailed and information-rich of the five, and therefore worth examining together as a group. Each group member also had to choose to consolidate one of the other sets of models for analysis in a report. I chose to consolidate the communication aspect of the sequence models.

Affinity Diagram and Walkthrough

Information learned during the interviews we conducted was also broken down into individual "affinity notes." These notes could be one of several different types, including facts, breakdowns (problem areas), insights into the PTA's operations. Each note was marked with a user number (U1, U2, etc.) indicating which of the individuals we interviewed initially said it, and others were in turn identified by these user numbers when referred to in other interviews. Each of these affinity notes were written on their own slip of paper and then organized into a hierarchy that we analyzed and used to produce recommendations.

The individual affinity notes were placed into groups of 2-7 notes according to the similarity of their contents. We then had to describe what each of these groups of notes said, and this description was written on a blue Post-It note. The blue notes then had to be organized into groups and described. These descriptions revealed key issues and were written upon pink Post-It notes. The pink notes were also organized into groups and described. The labels for these groups provided an overview of the key issues, and were written upon green Post-It notes.

The organization of the affinity notes was carried out as a group. We first created a rough draft version, and then polished it both in terms of wording and presentation. The finalized version was presented to two of the members of the PTA and our GSI (graduate student instructor) for the discussion section of this course. We provided a walkthrough of how we created the affinity diagram and what we learned while creating it. We also created a PDF version of the diagram, which can be found below along with a photo of the physical diagram used for the walkthrough.

Final Report and Presentation

At the end of the semester, we had to examine and analyze the information we had gathered and the models and diagrams we had created to produce recommendations for the PTA. We provided an overview of these activities and descriptions of our findings and recommendations both in a final written report and presentation. A copy of the report with our findings and recommendations was provided to the PTA. Our client contact also attended our final presentation that we gave to the other groups in our lecture section. The slides used for our presentation can be viewed here.

SI 622 – Evaluation of Systems and Services (Winter 2010)

This project involved examining and evaluating different aspects of a client's website in terms of their usability. Our client was We conducted a variety of activities that included interviews, surveys, comparative analysis, usability audits, and usability testing. We analyzed our findings to produce recommendations for improvements which we presented in a series of reports and presentations over the course of the semester. These recommendations were also re-evaluated and consolidated into a final set of recommendations that we presented to our class and our client at the end of the semester.

Group: Team Newsies

  • Danlu Fu
  • Garima Garg
  • Catherine Le
  • Caroline Moran


Interaction Map
Our first assignment as a group was to create a static representation of our client’s website. This representation mapped all possible actions and paths (including any potential errors), and was presented as poster in which all of this was mapped out. Mapping these paths helped us to become more familiar with’s website and begin to anticipate where usage problems might occur. This interaction map can be viewed as a JPG or as a more detailed PDF.
Interviews, Personas and Scenarios
After becoming familiar with the website itself, we next needed to familiarize ourselves with's user population. We took the first hundred names from a list provided to us by our client contact and sent out a mass email asking for individuals willing to be interviewed about their experiences with using the site. We brainstormed a list of questions to be asked during the interviews. The interview questionnaire's questions were divided into sections concerning the interviewees' demographics, their computer use and proficiency, their use of the site, and their opinions about it. We ultimately interviewed five individuals who were current users of The interviews were conducted in pairs, with one group member asking the questions and the other taking notes about the interviewees' responses. These responses were compiled and analyzed to create three personas that represented users plus three scenarios regarding their use of the site. Creating these personas and scenarios helped us to understand who is using the website and their usage habits, which also helped us to make more targeted recommendations.

Comparative Analysis

We also examined several of's direct and indirect competitors, most of which are online news content providers. We chose to focuse on websites that our client contact mentioned as their peers or as sites that excelled at performing certain functions they wished to improve. We compared and contrasted with these competitors in terms of their functionality, usability (ease of use), and aesthetics. We then analyzed our findings to produce recommendations for features that might wish to change or add.


This stage of our project involved creating and deploying an online survey in order to gather a large number of users' opinions about Our survey asked questions that ranged from those about users' demographic information to those about users' satisfaction with various site features. We used Survey Gizmo to create it, and it was designed with the intent that it would only take up approximately 15 minutes of respondents' time. We also attempted a few pilot tests of the survey to evaluate its content and design before deploying it. We once again used the list of contacts provided to us and emailed several hundred of these users, providing them with a link to the survey and a request for participation. The survey was active March 1-10, 2010. Once we stopped collecting data, we downloaded the responses into Excel. The data was organized into a usable format, analyzed, and used to create recommendations.

Heuristic Evaluation

This stage of the project involved each member of the group evaluating specific features of according to the ten usability heuristics outlined by Jakob Nielsen. We decided to focus our heuristic evaluation on the site's interactive features because while many earlier respondents had indicated that they used these features, they also had rated them poorly. We chose to concentrate on four aspects of interaction on the site, specifically registering as a user, posting comments, sharing content, and signing up for one or more of the newsletters. We also came up with a modified severaity rating scale prior to evaluation in order to produce a consistency in ratings among the four of us. Each group member individually carried out these tasks and took note of any problems encountered or anything that was done particularly well. Testing was carried out on PCs and a Mac as well as in three different web browsers to take note of any differences across formats. We then compiled our notes after evaluation and analyzed our findings to discover any commonalities experienced during our separate evaluations. We then took these these findings and generated possible solutions to the problems we encountered.

Usability Testing

Our final data-gathering activity for the project consisted of our conducting usability testing of We conducted the usability testing in pairs in one of's conference rooms, with one group member acting as the moderator and the other recording notes. Each session of usability testing was done using one of our laptops, with the user's actions and thoughts voiced during the process being recorded via Camtasia. We recruited five individuals between the ages of twenty and thirty from our circles of acquaintances to do the usability testing. All five participants were asked to complete the same same of five tasks to test different aspects of These tasks were designed with the intention of covering several different features of that our client asked us to specifically review. We had the participants complete an online survey before the testing to enter some demographic information, and also verbally administered a set of questions afterwards to obtain their opinions about their experiences in using during the testing process. The information gained from these two questionnaires and the usability testing itself was compiled and analyzed to generate recommendations. We also presented our activities, findings, and recommendations from this stage of our project in class, and the slides from that presentation can be viewed here.

Final Presentation(s)

Our final activity for the course was to present on our work for this project as a whole. We went back and reexamined our findings and in order to consolidate them into one simplified set that eliminated any redundancies and reflected what we had uncovered over the course of the semester. These findings were then analyzed to produce one final set of recommendations. Both the findings and recommendations were ranked by the level of their importance. We presented only some of major findings and recommendations in class due to time limitations, but on all of them during our final presentation for our client. Links to the slides for both of these presentations can be found below.

SI 620 – Collection Development and Management (Winter 2011)

This project involved picking a library to study over the course of the semester in relation to what we were studying in class. We chose to examine the collections and practices of the Ypsilanti District Library (YDL). We described and evaluated their collections and practices in a series of written assignments that we later compiled to produce a final formal portfolio.

Group Members:

  • Patricia Hogan
  • Erin Kerby
  • Caroline Moran
  • Lara Pollack

Final Portfolio

We had five separate written assignments to complete as a group over the course of the semester. A list of all of them is provided below, with the options we did not choose crossed out. While every group had only one option for the first, second, and fifth assignments, we had to choose one of two options for the third and fourth. We chose to do the sample reviews and materials costs for the third and fourth assignments respectively. At the end of the semester, we had to go back to edit and revise these assignments and put them together to create our final portfolio. A breakdown of the portfolio in terms of the sections' titles and the assignments they came from is also provided below. The final document we produced was 145 pages long, and our professor asked to keep the hard copy we turned in to use as an example for future students of what to do for this final component of the project.
Separate Assignments
  • Institution Selection and Working Group Basics
  • Institution Selection Details
  • Annotated List of Reviews / Sample Reviews
  • Materials Costs / Collection Profile
  • Selection Guidelines
Portfolio Sections
  1. About Ypsilanti District Library (Assignment 2)
  2. YDL Materials Costs Forecasts (Assignment 4)
  3. YDL Materials Selection Policy (Assignment 5)
  4. YDL Item Reviews (Assignment )
  5. Conclusion and Appendices

Final Presentation

We also gave a presentation in class at the end of the semester. We had the option of presenting on one of three topics: a breakdown of YDL's collection, our costs analysis for YDL, or its collection guidelines. We chose to present our costs analysis for YDL, as well as provide an overview of the library system as a whole. Our presentation slides can be found here.