My Role


Co-Lead Researcher.

We both led the user interviews, the card sorting, online surveys & the creation of the newsletter.

  • Anik Ahmed
  • Venisha Henry
  • Project Start: September 2019
  • Preliminary Research: September to December
  • Advanced Research: January to March
  • Project End: April 2020



    Me & my classmate wanted to improve our school's communication system. Through ideation it eventually led us to improve our school's email system.


    Defining the problem that I and my colleague tackled, we decided we wanted to improve the college's way of communicating with its students and faculty, but we were limited in scope as we had to deal with financial & bureaucratic constraints.

    Therefore we had consulted our faculty advisor, interviewed 2 different students in order pinpoint the main focus/scope of our project.  ​

    This led me and my colleague to break down our entire process into three different goals.

    The Process




    What are the problems our student body faces with our email system.

    We used user interviews, online surveys, & cardsorting to aid us.

    Developing possible solutions through ideation & brainstorming while minding the constraints we had faced.

    Testing our solution through statistics & user feedback to see what can be improved.


    Preliminary Insights

    The preliminary insights are early-stage interviews that we had conducted in order to understand the core problem that our students & staff have.

    The Freshman

    The Senior

    The Professor

    The main thing that we had learned was that he didn't keep up with the school's academic calendar & preferred learning information through word of mouth.

    Her main complaint was towards her credit requirements not being clear for classes & announcements regarding her classes registration. She also wished that major requirements were more clear.

    The main critique was how so many emails that were not applicable to them were being forwarding to the staff & students.

    The disorganization of how the school communicated events & announcements to students & staff was not appreciated.

    What we learned was that the school's email system was a big frustration factor for students & staff alike because of how hard it is to find for specific information.

    Online Surveys

    When conducting online surveys we used 3 different iterations of the survey. The surveys focused upon college/university email systems.

    User Interviews

    We interviewed about 13 students in order to understand their perspectives on our school's email. The general consensus of our students is that they didn't regularly check their emails because of the amount of spam they received, however they also felt that dire information that they wanted to receive - wasn't readily available to them such as financial aid or academic notifications

    Card-Sorting Exercise

    Card-Sorting was a huge boon to our research. As it allowed us to conduct similar research with the interviews but allowed our participants being more honest with their critiques.

    By printing out email topics, we let participants sort each card from most important to least important & asked why they sorted the cards in that specific way.

    Research Conclusions


    Direct Impact

    37 Emails Per Day

    People stated that they would rather have emails of Academic/Financial Aid related the most

    Students wanted emails that affected their lives directly instead of events/clubs. They want to see emails that directly impacted them - be it academic or financially.

    Through our research we've learned that York College hosts about 30 events per month & sends about 5-7 emails about news & announcements per week


    Potential Solutions with Limited Resources

    With all of our data collected from our research we decided to move on to developing a solution.

    We discussed potential solutions to help us fix the problem of bringing the most wanted information to the students/staff through revamping the email system.

    We came up with 3 potential solutions.

    Create a New App

    We realized we wouldn't have the bandwidth to actually create something from scratch.

    Also the administration wouldn't have much funding for this option.

    Design a mockup

    The problem with this solution is that while it was feasible for us to do this - our college actually is using Microsoft outlook as it's current way to use emails.

    So there was no way we can design something completely new.

    Create a Newsletter

    The newsletter would include things such as school events, announcements, and news related to the administration that students can quickly glance at, receive fewer emails regarding these events and make their lives a little bit easier when scrolling down their inbox.​

    Thus we settled on creating a newsletter that would put out the 'unwanted' information for both the students and staff.    

    Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on UnsplashPhoto by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

    Results & Conclusions

    Our project's results at first had little to no measurable impact. However once the school was shut down due to the pandemic - we learned a few interesting things about our project that show that our project was a success amongst the student body:

    20.4% Open Rate

    25% Increase

    Students are Happy

    Open Rate of the digest during it's 1st week of circulation.

    On March 13th due to Covid-19 concerns we gained a 25% increase in it's open-rate because students wanted to know of what is going to happen to the school.

    One Student states: “Thank you, you’ve prevented me from receiving  30 separate emails”

    Though our involvement with the project has ended since we both graduated, we learned that the administration has added a section for students to discuss about their lives which receives 10-15 submissions a week, a special events section & that our engagement rate has risen to 25% since it's debut last year.

    Overall being able to make a difference to our school through UX processes is something that pushed both of us to pursue becoming designers. I thought the experience was fun because it expanded my knowledge of these processes but also led me to deal with the real world business constraints that may occur.

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