The Quick Read

826 MSP is a non-profit branch of national literacy organization 826 National. They were in the process of rebranding their organization to match national brand identity. While keeping the nautical theme of their original MOI (Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute) branding we set out to bring them into more modern and approachable design.

Through Heuristic analysis, lab usability testing, and remote usability my team was able to find the key opportunities for growth. We then each took on part of the design and made a fresh interactive prototype that carried the organization into the future.


  • Findings and Recommendations Report


  • Axure Rp

  • Sketch

  • Usability Testing

  • Heuristic Analysis

The Full Story


826 MSP came to our design team asking for help as they officially entered 826 National. After years of doing business as Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute (MOI) they need to rebrand as a local branch of a national organization and create a reactive web platform that engaged the community at large. All while showcasing the amazing work they do and keeping the unique look and feel of MOI in the process.

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MOI/826 MSP is a program designed to empower underserved youth with reading and writing skill building. The majority of their students come to 826 MSP through the Minneapolis Public School system, while a small contingent are individual students that need help catching up. 826 MSP chose Squarespace as a web platform and did a great job building out the basics of a new site. We took their initial concepts through heuristic analysis, in lab user evaluations and remote testing.In doing so we found that while some portions of the site worked well, a myriad of issues needed to be addressed.

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– Understand the pain-points in way-finding and navigation

– Understand how specific user groups are able to find appropriate programming, methods & samples

– Understand the extent to which the user understands the purpose of the organization


In an effort to build a base understanding of the project ahead our team utilized a heuristic analysis (10 Usability Heuristics – NNG 1994.) Each of my three team members took a fraction of the list and went over the platform with a fine tooth comb. We took note of user issues, dead links, design flaws, and elements that appeared to be working well.

Using a severity index we placed each issue heuristic on a scale of; good, moderate, severe. With Good meaning the element appeared to be working well. Moderate meaning that slight redesign may help user flow. Severe meaning that element may cause the user to leave the site immediately and that it must be addressed ASAP.

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With the above goals in hand we set about creating scenarios for each potential user as supplied by 826 MSP. We then wrote a script that allowed the team to choose a scenario at the midpoint of each interview that best fit the user in the test lab. For instance, a user with lots of volunteer experience was asked to find a reason to volunteer with 826 MSP then use the website to sign-up for a volunteer orientation. Where a user that talked about a past in education was asked to look over programming and find evidence that 826 MSP used appropriate teaching methods, then request to book a field trip for their hypothetical class.

Our team was able to test with 9 unique people. 4 in the lab and 5 remotely. We had the great challenge to restructure our whole script to match the interests of a 12 year old as well in the lab when one became available (she had come to work with a parent.) To test the site in the eyes of a user that had not been requested by the client really opened out eyes to the way different generations took in digital information and interacted with the web.


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With a massive amount of data it was back to the drawing board with my team to synthesize all of that down to common insights. Again using the severity scale (shown in the image) we were able to take all that data and make it deliverable with recommendations for future changes. We split the findings into three categories.

Clarity: Way-Finding, Information Architecture & Programming

Engagement: Sign-Up/Sign-In, Calendar Interface, Third Party Links

Identity: Mission Statement, Teaching Methods, Credibility

The final report is shown below and contains the findings, with user quotes when possible, followed by 1-4 potential solutions per issue. We choose to look at a fairly broad approach as there was so much to work on with this project.


During the research and analysis of 826 MSP our team found no end to opportunities for growth. From integrating calendars to adding more video showcasing teaching methods, and personalizing the student work samples with imagery of the authors that wrote them.

I’d like to thank 826 MSP for trusting my design team to research their users and deliver a report full of ideas that make their hard work something they will want to share far and wide.