UCLA Partnerships

Visualizing UCLA’s connections to community organizations in Los Angeles

My Role

UX research & design


GIS analyst
Front-end developer
Drupal developer
Visual designer




I partnered with UCLA's public advocacy team—the Office of Government & Community Relations—to design an online directory of community programs. Every 2 years they printed a directory spanning 500 pages that took 6 months to update. They used the directory alongside custom maps and reports to show the breadth of UCLA’s engagement, research, and impact in the community.


The print directory was expensive, labor-intensive, out of date, and difficult to distribute. By publishing the same data online, they could ensure their data was current and accessible to the public.


Their primary objective was to use the directory as an advocacy tool with local elected officials and civic leaders. They needed the ability to customize data to their specific legislative districts or service areas. Secondarily, they wanted a service directory for the public. One that professionals and community members could use to find programs based on their interests and location.


Our client wanted to reach a broad audience of 5 segments. The challenge for us was figuring out how to serve everyone's needs. After working with our client to assess requirements, we determined we couldn't create features for everyone. We also hadn't validated if the general public would use their directory as a resource. So we encouraged them to prioritize two segments—elected officials and civic leaders—while serving others as best we could.

Concept Testing

I conducted concept testing with 6 participants in our primary segments. I wanted to validate our assumption: that public officials would use our directory to search for programs in their districts or service areas. I built a clickable prototype and moderated a remote testing session with participants. This helped us gather feedback on the concept.

Test participants felt the directory concept was a good communications tool. But they didn't consider it a substitute for their own resources. They discovered programs and services via city and county directories, professional referrals, and community events.

Research Findings

In the eyes of public officials, UCLA is an education and research institution first. They don't see us as a direct service provider like local and state agencies or non-profits. UCLA also lacks some legitimacy because our institution isn't embedded in communities the same way. A few participants recommended we focus on the partnership aspect. In other words:

  • Who do we work with in their community?
  • How do we collaborate with them to deliver services?

Emphasizing the collaborative aspect would help us avoid projecting a top-down, ivory tower approach to addressing community needs.


In the end, our client decided to use this directory as an advocacy tool. Even if it didn't serve a functional need, publishing the data would help UCLA demonstrate its connection to the community. It would make data available to more people. And it would help them collect updates and statistics from campus partners.

Content Model

I created diagrams of organizational relationships and corresponding site structure. I also noted the types of data we'd collect for stakeholders and developers. I worked with a geographic data manager (GIS) to define these dependencies. Working with our lead developer, I defined content types and fields for CMS and wrote business rules and use cases for development.

Filter & Search

I designed filter menus for different districts and policy interests. I also included suggestive search to preview matching results. Search queries could look for matching program titles, tags, and location data.

Program Results

On the map, we displayed matching filter and search results. We displayed contextual menus so users could preview program information. In addition to a map view, we provided a text-only list view for the mobile web and easily formatted for printing.

Program Summaries

To create a consistent experience across all programs, we standardized the fields and format. We instituted required summaries, character limits, and tips for content authors to ensure content was simple and straightforward for the public. We also included community partners in every program listing and made them relational and searchable in the database.

Next Project

SURŌ Onboarding