Portfolio: High Hazard Facilities Courses
High Hazard Facilities Courses was a project from Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries. My task was to create a web application that allowed people to create and manage online safety courses.
When a course is approved, the user can create class sessions, add instructors, and manage trainees for each one.
Audience and Goals
During our initial meeting, I had stakeholders walk me through who their audience was and what goals they had. I learned that there were three main groups of people that would use the site: course sponsors, program specialists, and the public. Understanding this division helped me tailor the experience to their different needs. For example, depending on who the audience is, they’ll have access to different privileges: program specialists can create courses without needing approval, while the public is restricted from seeing the private details of class instructors.
As I went along, I watched people complete given tasks during usability studies I ran and found areas of frustration or confusion to which I could make simple changes that had a significant impact on comprehension. One challenge I discovered was the app’s hierarchy of “courses” and “classes.” To many, those two terms sound interchangeable, but in this program, a course describes a complete curriculum, while a class is a distinctive session with its own body of students. After changing the term “classes” to “class sessions” (or sometimes just “sessions”) we found testers in further studies were better able to complete tasks related to these concepts.
Complex Yet Effortless
High Hazard Facilities Courses is a complex application with a database that needs to be updated, edited, sorted, and filtered. The biggest challenge was creating interfaces that felt intuitive, while supporting all of the different actions the project required.
I watched people complete usability studies, and found areas of frustration or confusion to which I could make simple changes that had a significant impact on comprehension.
In addition to course management, there’s a significant amount of complexity to managing students.
Here are a few of my considerations:
- Class sessions nest under courses, creating a relationship between the two.
- Right-aligned status tags and left-aligned textual content make columns easier to scan.
- Color-coded status tags provide context to the user at a glance.
In addition to course management, there’s a significant amount of complexity to managing students (called trainees in the app).
- Trainees can take multiple class sessions in multiple courses, all of which needs to be tracked.
- They can apply online with an email address, or via a paper form. In the latter case, the program specialist must be able to add the student’s submission manually.
- Sponsors and program specialists can add custom notes to each student.
- Trainee profiles can be printed or downloaded as a PDF.
Finally, there are messages. Program specialists have the ability to send course sponsors templated emails regarding their courses and accounts. This application provides a way for these messages to be sent and tracked—down to whether or not their message has been read.
While the project was in progress, I tracked the client’s requirements to make sure the application could do everything they needed it to do by the time I was done, and I provided a document linking each work item to a completable task in the prototype.
Focused usability studies showed that people were able to understand the interface, even with an entirely new application in front of them, and complete essential tasks. After this success, the website was developed and launched to the public on October 22, 2022.
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