Project Proposal

Team Members

Brendan Doms

Has core competencies in documentation and will manage this area.

Michael Foss

Has core competencies in programming and will manage this area.

Nathaniel Smith

Has core competencies in design and art and will manage this area.

All of the team members will contribute to all aspects of the project including interviewing, brainstorming, and the above listed competencies. The team is confident that it has all the essential skills to complete the project successfully.

Problem Statement

Our goal is to design a solution that personalizes information about a large group of people, specifically, for tasks that a user would currently use a "Mail Merge." For example, if a college wanted to send out a letter to all prospective students, but personalize each letter, they would need to use a program that sent out identical letters with personalized fields. The current program that most people use for this task is Microsoft Word, where this function is unintuitive and difficult to learn. We will design a better system that accomplishes this task.


The primary users are largely made up of marketing and external relations professionals. Their goals include making this complicated task easier for them to do and for personalization to seem more authentic.

Secondary users include average computer users that are as yet unaware of this feature. They could be motivated to use it for such tasks as sending out personalized invitations to parties if it were easier to use and more accessible.


Because users include external relations professionals, college admissions offices will have abundant users. So, we can find participants at the Olin and Babson admissions offices, at least to start. If that is not enough, we can poll local business and use Olin faculty contacts to find business professionals in the area that perform this task regularly. If we find that our participants are not representative of all the users mentioned above, we will adjust our scope accordingly.

Initial Suggested Design

In a very broad sense, we plan to: use more intuitive language, implement a nonlinear work flow (in other words, kill the wizard), explicitly define what is being inserted into a field, and show where fields are by coloring. Potentially, we would like to get away from the database field model and explore new possibilities.

Created: Friday, September 9, 2005
Last Revised: Friday, September 23, 2005