Rose Todaro, Liz Brodd, and Ian Zuppan
Rose Todaro, Liz Brodd, and Ian Zuppan

Students in the MCAD Continuing Education class User Experience (UX) Design and the Mobile App, taught by Matthew Luken, recently collaborated with nonprofit A Breath of Hope to help enhance their digital presence.

The collaboration began when Matthew Luken was approached by A Breath of Hope. They were curious if he knew of any freelancers looking for pro bono work, as they were looking to enhance their digital presence. He offered a couple of options: he could broadcast it to his network, or he could suggest it to his students as a guided learning activity since it fit well into the curriculum. The organization was excited by the prospect of the latter, and his class was eager for the chance to work with a real client.

In late September, Ian Zuppan, Rose Todaro, Liz Brodd, and Luken held the guided exercise, while Luken worked with a colleague, Carissa Merrill at US Bank, to complete accessibility testing. Two weeks and a collective sixty man-hours of work later, the class met with A Breath of Hope Board Member Peter Bucka to go over the report of their findings, answer questions, and discuss the most effective approaches and recommended next steps.

“Working together,” said Luken, “the class generated a usability report that contained information on the effectiveness of communication to defined user types, design, and usability considerations on a page-by-page basis, user's sphere of influence, competitors in the marketplace, and ranked recommendations based on findings with the audit.”

A Breath of Hope was impressed with the results and happy with the collaboration. “As a small nonprofit with a limited budget, we are not able to employ full-time website staff,” said Executive Director Nancy Torrison. “It was very helpful for me to get a comprehensive assessment of our website's ability to draw search engines from Mr. Luken's students. Receiving it in one precise report saved us time and money once we hired a contractor to do the work. Collaborating with Mr. Luken and his students was a good experience for us and we are deeply grateful for the in-kind donation of this time and talent. I hope the class will continue to offer this service to small nonprofits. A well-performing website is important to all of us. In our case, it will allow us to reach more people with important lung cancer awareness messages that could save their lives."

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