Business Students Compete to Design Website for Local Nonprofit

Students present web design

Dec. 12, 2018

University of Montana business students didn’t just learn web design this semester, they used their new skills to benefit a local nonprofit.

Student teams in the UM College of Business Systems Analysis and Design course competed to have their website selected by the Missoula Nonprofit Center, which serves as a communications hub for local nonprofits. The project is another example of the experiential learning opportunities that UM and the business curriculum are known for.

“It is absolutely critical to our students that they work on real projects with real consequences and that’s exactly what these types of projects provide,” said course instructor Clayton Looney, professor and chair of the Management Information Systems Department.

The project also highlights the strong, mutually beneficial relationships that exist between the business school and the community. Sponsored by United Way of Missoula County, an impressive panel of judges helped select which team-designed website the Missoula Nonprofit Center will utilize to support operations. Each of the five student teams presented their design to the judges on Dec. 7.

United Way of Missoula County panelists included CEO Susan Hay Patrick, as well as Eric Legvold and Leidy Wagner. Community members included Wil Anderson of Blackfoot Communications, Liz Moore from the Montana Nonprofit Association, Kaila Warren from Tobacco Free Missoula County with Missoula City-County Health Department, Robert Giblin with the Downtown Missoula Partnership, and Andrea Vernon and Colleen Kane with the UM Office of Civic Engagement.

“We were so impressed by the quality of the students’ work and the professionalism of their presentations,” Hay Patrick said. “Having a great website is always a major priority for nonprofits, but website design is usually also a major headache – and a major expense.  It was such a gift to have several great options to choose from, and to have the students work so hard to respond to the nonprofit community’s needs. We are grateful to be part of a new way to strengthen the strong ties between the university and the community.”

For Matthew Sedgwick, a senior MIS major from Outlook, Montana, the project represented an opportunity to practice meeting client needs. Earning a certificate in cybersecurity, he’s already accepted a cybersecurity position with KPMG in Seattle after graduation in May.

“This was a great project,” he said. “This class is going to help me and the other students with consulting with people. That’s really what MIS is all about — fulfilling requirements and knowing what the client needs are so we can meet their demands in the real world with technology.”

Photo: From left, students Zachary Amo, Walker Lamb and Matthew Sedgwick present their web design to the judges.