University Beyond Bars

University Beyond Bars is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides post-secondary education and enrichment programming to inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, WA.

Final University Beyond Bars homepage

Team War Room


Deliver a redesigned site for University Beyond Bars that can be easily updated by non-technical staff.

  • Primary audience: new and current donors
  • Secondary audience: new volunteers 


  • Squarespace template selection
  • Home, Donation, Volunteer Page design
  • Information Architecture
  • Navigation Schema
  • UX Specification (style guide)
  • Process Documentation


  1. Stakeholder Interviews
  2. User Interviews
  3. User Survey
  4. Comparative Research
  5. Storyboarding
  6. Concept Mapping
  7. Persona Creation
  8. Card Sorting
  9. Design Studio
  10. Task Flow
  11. User Flow
  12. Feature Identification and Prioritization
  13. Squarespace Prototype
  14. Usability Testing
  15. Iterate (Squarespace)


  • Jill Wear
  • Esmond Leung
  • Kim Van Horn

My Role:

  • Three Stakeholder interviews
  • Four User Interviews 
  • User Survey
  • Five usability tests - development and implementation
  • Create Squarespace prototype
  • Collaboration in persona creation, information architecture, interaction design, task flow, user flow.

Finding themes in user interviews


Survey results


Stakeholder Interview Findings:

After completing three stakeholder and four user interviews, we realized that our conversations boiled down to three keywords:  Education, Community, and Empowerment.  

User Research Findings:

We started thinking about community and the communities that are affected by UBB: The inmate, the UBB student community, the larger prison community and the community outside. 

We did an online survey to discover more specifics about user donation habits. We had 36 respondents.

Based on survey results, we found that people support nonprofits because:

  1.  They believe in the cause and feel a personal or emotional connection to it.
  2. They trust the organization.  They believe the leadership is good and that their donations are used responsibly.
  3. The nonprofit does something to help their community.

92% of our respondents support organizations in their own communities

88% of our respondents donate online

Research Conclusion:

We need to make sure to create a personal/emotional connection with users as soon as they come to the site.  We need to make sure users know who we are, who we benefit and how we do it on the homepage.

Community was a prominent theme in our research that will run throughout the site.

Card sorting



Information Architecture:

Online open card sort and physical card sorting exercises were used to streamline the IA of the University Beyond Bars site and get rid of unnecessary duplicated data.

This process led us to the new navigational headings of The Challenge, The Solution, Take Action, Stay Informed, and About Us.

Homepage wireframe



Our team spent a day in design studio in order to lay out the best ways to manage the homepage, donate flow and volunteer flow.

University Beyond Bars has a third-party tool that they use for processing and tracking donations.  We needed to embed the forms from that tool into the Squarespace site, and were not able to break up the forms as we would have liked.


Usability testing

Whiteboarding usability test results


Usability Test Findings:

  • Everyone loved the clean design, BUT thought there was too much white space at the top of the page between the nav and the hero image.
  • The Volunteer page is too wordy.  Find a way to express the necessary information in a more concise way.
  • We need to make sure that users are led quickly to the challenge and the solution.
  • The slideshows on The Challenge and The Solution were too subtle and users missed the controls.  Change the slideshow structure to make it more obvious.
  • On the Donate page, users loved seeing what their money could buy.
  • Users loved the navigation and were able to find information easily.

"Jill can do! She is an awesome communicator and designer which stems from a very thoughtful and inquisitive style. She wrapped herself around our UX Design project specifications which led her to reaches beyond what we introduced her to. She researched extensively who we were and the nature of our constituency which not only led to an excellent user design but also the extra bonus of introducing new folks to our cause. Her consistent and timely follow through and feedback throughout the project gave us confidence in her and her team. She has such a positive, kind and generally good-natured spirit - a great team player with skills to match."
-Becky Passarella, Development Director at University Beyond Bars