← Back to Portfolio


Conducting UX research to improve University of Michigan's identity management system.

Project Overview


MCommunity is a identity management platform and people directory for the University of Michigan developed by the university’s IT services(ITS) department. The platform is being rebuilt from the ground up to be better compatible with modern browsers and to improve the user experience of the platform. During the January of 2017, ITS tasked our group of five user researchers with completing an in-depth evaluation of the beta platform and advising them on the usability of their beta platform.

Our team used a wide array of UX research methods to assess our client’s platform, from user interviews, personas, comparative evaluations to heuristic evaluation and usability testing. A report of findings and recommendations was created after completing each method.

User Research

Interaction Map

Our first research artifact was an interaction map, which we used to map the user flow for each of the main functions for the platform (managing university groups & editing personal information). interaction map

User Interviews

To learn more about how members of the University of Michigan community used MCommunity, our group interviewed five people with different roles within the university. We interviewed one teaching faculty, one staff, one student org president, and two students.

From our interviews, we learned the following about users’ experience with MCommunity:


Based on our interviews, we created three personas as research artifacts in order to show ITS who MCommunity’s users were. Each personas was developed based on real traits and behaviors of our interviewees.

interaction map

Comparative Evaluation

A competitive evaluation was completed where we evaluated MCommunity and competitors. Competitors were determined based on the main features as identified by our interviewees. This was an important set because we learned that some departments in the University opt to use MCommunity’s competitors to manage their mailing groups.

Based on our evaluation, we made the following recommendations:

Comparative evaluation artifacts


Our team released a survey asking university members about their experiences with MCommunity and evaluating what tasks were important them. The survey was completed by 87 people.

We learned the following about how users used the platform:

Heuristic Evaluation

We conducted a heuristic evaluation of the beta platform using Neilsen’s 10 usability principles. Our group collectively determined a list of criteria to evaluate and each conducted an independent evaluation. Each criteria was rated from 1-4 with four being the most severe.

When our group shared our evaluations, we identified three key issues with the current beta.

Usability Testing

We conducted five usability tests on the beta platform which focused on completing group management tasks. Each member of our group was responsible for recruiting an appropriate participant and completing a test.

See usability test technical plan and interview scripts here.

MCommunity User Testing diagram


From our tests, we learned about the following the beta platform’s usability:


Based on our findings, we recommended the following:


Beta Updates

Although not all of our suggestions were implement some changes were made based on our findings. Deletion now shows the group name so that it is easier to delete unused group and autocomplete is now available during management.

Figure: Deletion now shows group name on input.

Figure: Deletion now shows group name on input.

Figure: New autocomplete hints at correct usernames.

Figure: New autocomplete hints at correct usernames.

Back to Portfolio