Web-based Guide for REU PIs

Create a database to keep documents, examples, and overviews of the different aspects of running an REU site.

Active Website





Successful MVP

Increased Excitement

Visit the Active Website


What do new REU PIs need in order to run a successful REU site?


  • Lower uncertainty, increase confidence, and successfully guide PIs through the process.
  • User satisfaction.


  • Lack of documents.
  • Hosting through WordPress.
  • Limited flexibility in design decisions.


26 surveys and user interviews

Principal Invertigator Persona
Program Coordinator Persona

According to the research and the site structure, REUs will vary. We created a Journey map timeline to help us highlight some important aspects that can affect the success of an REU site.

Timeline of running and planning for an REU site

To understand how our users naturally grouped information, we had the PIs do an open and collaborative card sorting activity by different topics, which allows us to identify the different tasks, questions, and sub-topics that needed to be addressed under a parent category.

After analyzing our data — I came up with the following design requirements for the content of the REU PI Guide:

1. Information should be presented by topic
2. Downloadable templates and resources for PIs to refer to or customize
3. Identified best practices within larger topics.

Card Sorting activity


Research-based design considerations

  • ​Identify best practices within larger topics
  • Information organized by topic and bigger goals
  • Include downloadable templates and resources for PIs to refer or customize

Competitive Analysis

Competitive Analysis Websites

One of the limitations was the need to host using WordPress and a predetermined template.

Wordpress template

Although this limits the ability to develop a brand, new stylesheets, and make major visual decisions, it provides the opportunity to focus more on the content and provided resources. On a brighter note, the template allowed the design to be responsive.

Showing the website’s template responsiveness
Information Architecture of the website

With that in mind, we kept the structure and design close to what our users are used to interacting with — academic websites. These are mainly simple and kept on-brand with their school.

Quick website sketches

Wireframes and Prototype planning…

Over 10 resources collected, 6 newly created!



Style Guide


22 participants, Task-based evaluation

​Each participant browsed the REU PI Guide website and attempted to complete 3 tasks, followed by a USE (Usefulness, Satisfaction, and Ease of Use) survey evaluation.

Task 1: Find information about accepting/rejecting applications.

Task 2: Find information about what you need to do after accepting your students and preparing your REU site before your students’ arrival (e.g., getting them to the REU site, accommodations, etc.).

Task 3: Find information about student tracking after the program.

Results indicated a successful MVP

​Based on the evaluation’s data, the first iteration of the CISE REU PI Guide was satisfactory, useful, and welcomed by the participants. The provided information matched their expectations and left them requesting more materials or specific guidance.

Evaluation feedback


We can also see some concerns around the website’s template (static), heavy text, and information architecture — which can be fixed by leveraging other implementation approaches and resources.

We saw how opening up the user testing session to a large subset helped us gather more data, it didn’t necessarily match-up with our core users. Next time, gathering a smaller and more focused group of participants (our main users) and do smaller and supervised sessions, which would allow asking follow up questions and fully understand what needs to be changed, how, and the reason why.

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UX Designer