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iSchool Mobile

Research Project by Yier Cao, Ruiyang Ma, Yinuo Jing, Siran Pang

Designed and Prototyped by Yier Cao

iSchool Mobile looks into the information architecture and usability of the official website of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Information, and takes insights into the redesign of the iSchool website.

Context & Assessment

Background Information

University of Toronto Faculty of Information (iSchool) was established on the bedrock of library science and information studies. Initially launched to provide a digital gateway for the students and faculty, its website has evolved to become an interdisciplinary platform.

Challenges & Goals

Based on secondary research, the main challenges our users face are difficulty with navigation, information retrieval, and a cluttered presentation. Our objective is to enhance the user experience by creating a user-friendly, easy-to-use, and visually appealing website.

Measure of Success

For the scope of this project, we will focus on using tree testing to gain insight into our users’ experience and improve our information architecture and navigation design accordingly.

Intended Audience

Prospective Student

  • Retrieve available programs and resources

  • Access application information and portal

  • Learn about financial information


  • Look for ways of connecting and giving

  • Explore resources and opportunities for alumni

Current Student

  • Retrieve academic resources and opportunities

  • Look for community engagement

  • Explore career opportunities and resources


  • Explore research opportunities and resources

  • Keep updated with research news


  • Retrieve open faculty positions

  • Explore updates on school news and events


  • Assess whether iSchool is a good fit for their children

Content Inventory & Assessment


we crawl the website,
and get raw data items.


After cleaning up the erroneous and repetitive pages,
we end up with good pages.


We select most useful and potentially confusing pages
for card sorting sessions.

We access the card sorting content on the iSchool website
based on the following standards:





Key Message



  • Content that defines our audience, displays relevant information, and allows them to accomplish their objectives should be prioritized.

  • Redundant and erroneous content needs to be removed, whereas stale content needs to be maintained regularly.

  • Content with low readability needs to be improved in navigation redesign.

Card Sorting

We have eight participants and card-sorting sessions in total. Our card pool contains 51 cards, with each representing a category, subcategory, and/or a part of the information hierarchy in the iSchool website’s navigation. Content cards are entered into OptimalSort. A link will be provided to each participant, where observation and facilitation by our coordinators will take place. Facilitation includes asking the participants to describe the groups they make, why they are grouped, and which items they have trouble grouping.

High Agreement Items


“Job Shadowing”

“Writing Support”

“Part-Time Student Resources”

“Mission & Values”

“Apply to Faculty of Information”

Low Agreement Items

“Money Matter”

“Academic Regulations”


“Grants & Awards”

“Hire MI Co-op Students”


High Agreement Categories


“Academic Resources”

“About Us”


High Agreement Categories

“Future Students”

“Current Students”

“Prospective Students”

“Programs & Research”

Ambiguous Item Labels

Participants reported that some items could have multiple meanings, making it difficult to pinpoint where they belong. “Hire MI Co-op Students”, for instance, could mean iSchool is hiring, or it is helping students to get hired. Some ambiguous labels could instead be subcategories; “Money matter” could mean tuition, living expenses, financial aid, etc, it serves its purpose best as an umbrella for them.


Participants did not know what some items meant. For instance: “iSkill workshop”, “Technology Loan”, “Collaborate Specialization”, “Practicum”, etc.
While some terms have no better naming alternatives and are meant to be learned (i.e., “Practicum”, “Co-op”), others could benefit from more clarity. Based on its content, “Governance & accountability” incurs the least confusion when it is named as “iSchool Council”.

Some Content Can Exist Under More Than One Categories

Some items can belong to more than one category. While “Courses” and “Programs” apply to prospective and current students, “Part-Time Student Resources” and “Writing Support” could belong to “Academics” and “Career”. “Institutes & Labs” could also exist under both “Research” and “Academic Resources”.

Participant Recommendations

Participants often expressed the need for sub-categorization. For some labels, they recommended directly addressing the target audience. Moreover, adding a brief description to some of the “unavoidable” jargon could help inform the audiences. Take “Practicum” for example, add an ℹ (“information”) within its clickable area and provide a pop-out window that contains a brief description.

Information Architecture

iSchool IA.png

Tree test

Based on our IA, we designed tree test tasks on OptimalSort. We developed six tasks to test the parts of the IA that we were least confident about. These tasks are iterated from the perspective of different groups of intended audiences, and they do not contain words or phrases from our IA. After analyzing the results of tree test, we made adjustments to IA.

You graduated from iSchool three years ago and is think about donating, where would you go?

You are a current student at iSchool and looking for workshops to enhance your
technical skills. Where would you go?

You are applying for Master of Information and want to visit iSchool in person, where would you go for registration?

You are a prospective Ph.D. applicant to iSchool, where would
you go to find avaliable research opportunities?

You are a HR representative and want to hire a Co-op intern from iSchool. Where would you go?

You have been feeling distressed lately due to finals and you would like to talk about it, where would you go to seek help?

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