Drew Harry's Portfolio

Mailing List Design


13 Weeks


Spring 2005


Ann-Marie Rynning, Chris Chavez


Human Factors and Interface Design


Prof. Lynn Stein

Mailing lists play an important role in managing email in large institutions. At Olin, we found that students were subscribed to between two and twelve mailing lists, and the mail from those lists constituted between 20% and 90% of their daily email volume. We use the popular Mailman mailing list software, and because it was such an important piece of software for so many people on campus, the team decided it would be an excellent candidate for a user interface redesign.

To redesign Mailman, we started with a series of interviews to understand how users interacted with the software. We were interested in more than just the precise series of links and tasks to sign up for a mailing list, we wanted to understand the goals that users had in using mailing lists, so we could explore features that would make useful to more people. During the design process, we employed a wide range of design techniques including personas, paper prototyping, usability testing, high fidelity prototyping, goal analysis, and heuristic evaluation. In our final prototype, we propose a revised interface for interacting with mailing lists. We also identified ways in which we could improve the social experience of using mailing lists by helping connect users with similar interests, provide richer search capabilities, and "smart lists." While this design is specific to the ways in which we observed Olin College students using mailing lists, we believe our final design would be valuable for other college mailing list systems as well.

Rethinking One To Many Communication At Olin

Our final report, detailing our final design (with screenshots and photographs) and our design process. (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Final Presentation

The final presentation the team gave to the class. The presentation included an extensive demo, which is not captured in this file. (PPT, 8.2 MB)


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