Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Committee Chair

Glen Southergill

First Advisor

Pat Munday

Second Advisor

Tim Kober


The problem that needs to be solved is that there is not one direct and/or instantaneously link/connection to service opportunities in Butte, Montana. The Coalition of Southwest Montana Continuum of Care is a group located in Butte that was formed the later part of 2017 to try and end homelessness in Butte. This online service community will be a catalyst in connecting the coalition, and other service groups, to the Butte community. Jesse James Garrett, in his book The Elements of User Experience, explains the process of how to build a successful online community. Tharon W. Howard, in his book Design to Thrive, discusses the RIBS approach to sustaining an online community. Using these approaches will help solve the problem that exits in communities that fail. Garrett describes five planes that will build a successful online community. These planes are called Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface. RIBS represent four strategies for developing a successful online community. These strategies are Remuneration, Influence, Belonging, and Significance. Applying Garrett’s five planes to building a community, using the RIBS method to solve the problem that exists, and using the artifact of service for the online community, a service online community can have success. There are three questions that need to be answered in building and sustaining an online service community. These questions are: What’s a good approach to User-Centered Design for an online community that would generate an increase of service opportunities in the Butte community? What attracts people to participating in a service community, and what effects does participating in a service community have on individuals/communities? How does technology support community formation and organization? Usability testing was done using the techniques of speak aloud protocol and card sorting. The results of the usability testing indicate that the website has effective aesthetics and readability, is easy to understand and navigate through, is wanted by service organizations, and is a new innovative idea for technology as it pertains to service in the community. Research suggests that Facebook and YouTube are in the top five most used social networks. A pilot test will be conducted to help understand how to better user experience. The pilot test will be assessed in a 6-12-month period. Research suggests that having an online community could promote positive change, increase interest in higher education, and create a more united community. Appendixes A-I show the website pages.


A project to fulfill the requirements for a Master of Science in Technical Communications