// Design Research //

60 second snapshot

The goal

This design research project investigated the dynamics surrounding bulletin boards at Carnegie Mellon. Our final proposal was to increase the value of bulletin boards using crowd-sourced labor.

The users

Our primary users were the students who used bulletin boards for advertising and informing themselves.

The users

I worked with Ji Tae Kim and Albert Yang on this project. 

Final proposal

UC bulletin board.jpg

The rules in our proposal were intended to increase the sense of public ownership and value of bulletin boards.

1 social rule

  • Outdated posters or posters covering other posters should be removed

3 system rules

  • Place a recycling bin nearby each board for easy disposal

  • Divide board with category system for easy organization

  • Only have one centralized bulletin board per building



Early interviews & observations

When first researching the problem space, our primary focus was understanding the behavior and motivations of relevant stakeholders. Through examining patterns we found in our preliminary research, we began to see a recurring cycle.

The “Bulletin Board Cycle”

  • People post on as many boards as possible and don't take down their posters after

  • People post over other posters, which are often outdated

  • Bullet boards overflow, losing value in the eyes of students

Observation insight

This is an "official board" which requires posters to be submitted and approved. However, over 40% of posters were outdated (shown in black). This led to an insight about the bulletin board system: the university doesn't really care.

Graffiti walls

We placed graffiti wall surveys on several popular bulletin boards, but they were actually covered up by other posters. We also submitted surveys to be posted by the administration, but they were never put up. This supported our earlier hypothesis that bulletin boards are a low priority for CMU.

Flexible modeling

We used a flexible modeling toolkit in order to find out what peoples' ideal bulletin board would look like. With the toolkits, we were able to collect interesting ideas as well as further our understanding of peoples' priorities.

First test

We tested a similar concept to the Broken Windows Theory on a small scale bulletin board, removing outdated posters and creating categories. Our tests proved successful, so we decided to move ahead with a larger scale implementation.

Final proposal

We wanted to avoid proposing a digital solution, as we felt a digital system would compromise the accessibility of bulletin boards themselves.

We received positive feedback from CMU’s School of Computer Science. Unfortunately our plan to implement more bulletin boards fell through.


Impact over time

While the organization of the board significantly dropped after 2 months, the heavy usage of the recycling bin was a success. I do believe the construction wall covering up the bulletin board lowered the value of the board, in addition to decreasing overall real estate, leading to more disorganization.