Background: The African-American Student Project is a long-term project of the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library. It's a searchable database of information regarding all African-American students that attended the University of Michigan from 1853-1956, including students' names, local addresses, memberships in sororities/fraternities, and relatives that also went to U of M.

The site also includes a variety of archival materials for an in-depth look at African-American student experiences, as well as an interactive housing map where users can view the off-campus residential patterns of students.
Challenges: The African-American Student Project was one of my first projects post-college. Jumping into such an important project with a large team and stakeholders was daunting, especially since at the beginning, I was fresh out of college. The UI phase of this project spanned 6+ months with many revisions and client meetings. Although there were many firsts for me when working on this, I came out on the other side full of knowledge and more comfortable working with a team larger than two.
Role: My work on this project primarily consisted of the UI design and quality assurance during development. During the design phase, I was also tasked adjusted the information architecture of the database search form to ensure that each field's purpose was clear to the user; this included rearranging sections and adding descriptions to certain fields.

I was also responsible for designing most secondary pages (Database, Visualizations, Stories, Contact), as well as the responsive design for tablet and mobile views. 
Objective: The objective of this site was to create a user-friendly, comprehensive experience where users can easily find the information that they are looking for– or discover new information. Quoting the AASP site, the objective of the project is "to provide more context and data about African Americans at U-M from 1817-1956, disclosing a full range of experiences including both achievements and struggle."
Results: The African-American Student Project launched nearly a year after the UI was completed. The clear result is that a badass site with an amazing mission and story behind it is now publicly available. Personally, this project was career-changing for me in the sense that I learned so much in such a short amount of time– from working with developers to discussing with stakeholders to realizing that designing in mobile doesn't mean that a site has to lose it's personality. Everything that I learned with this project changed how I design even to this day.

Lastly, this project reminded me that racism is not a thing of the past; students at the University of Michigan were fighting less than 100 years ago for their right to fair dormitory housing, and serious discussions surrounding African-American students' living problems only began in 1970 with the Black Action Movement.
Landing view on homepage.
The main focal point of the site: the database search.
Mobile view of residential map legend and filters.
Secondary desktop pages (L to R: Database Search Results, The Project, Stories).
View the full site here.
UI Design and Quality Assurance as a Web Designer at Studio Pence
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