UBC students taking a third-year Human Computer Interaction course have been working with seven non-profit organizations in the Okanagan to revamp their websites.
In teams of three, students have spent the last few months gathering information on their assigned community organization and conducting a detailed analysis of the website, its users, and its functionality. The goal is to leave the non-profits with a more user-friendly and effective website from both technical and user viewpoints.
The student teams presented their redesigns to the partnering organizations on Tuesday.
“Our objective was to deliver a website that was clean, attractive and met the needs of both the clients and service providers,” says UBC student Ryan Trenholm, whose group worked with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. “It was a great experience — a lot of work, but in the end we learned a lot, especially about the user perspective of web design and the consultation process.”
The project, which is part of the Learning Exchange program at UBC’s Okanagan campus, was partially funded by Interior Savings through their Community Investment Fund. Not only did students update the look, feel and functionality of the websites, they also addressed such issues as pages and pictures that loaded slowly, insufficient navigational bars, and outdated interfaces.
Patricia Lasserre, assoc. prof. of computer science at UBC’s Okanagan campus, designed the course hoping to provide organizations access to expertise and resources while offering students an opportunity to make a positive contribution to their community.
“By incorporating service learning into this course students were able to evaluate a real website, work with users to identify how easy or difficult it was to use, and then design a new website that would take those elements in consideration,” says Lasserre. “They now better understand the process of obtaining user information — including how careful you must be when interviewing people and how sensible you must be — and have ultimately become better listeners.”
The seven non-profit organizations involved are:
- Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
- Project Literacy Kelowna Society
- Kelowna and District Society for Community Living
- Central Okanagan Food Policy Council
- Central Okanagan Hospice Association
- Central Okanagan Community Gardens
- Peachland Wellness Centre
Barb Hagan, Executive Director of Project Literacy Kelowna Society, says the project was an outstanding experience for her organization.
“The students’ enthusiasm and energy was wonderful. They paid careful attention to detail, took a creative approach that was outside the box, and delivered a very positive experience. It was a pleasure to watch them bring the project together,” says Hagan.
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