Cathy Gurski


Class Discussions

What is a CDN and what are the pros and cons?

CDNs can make sense for a couple of reasons.

  1. Disaster Recovery/Continuity of Operations - You have the ability for failover if one of the sites in your CDN goes down.
  2. Uptime - Because the site is split over multiple locations you have a chance for greater uptime because network traffic is more distributed and no one server is taking the bulk of the hit on traffic.

On the other hand,

  1. There are additional costs to CDNs. Most CDNs have a monthly subscription fee which varies based on site traffic and other factors. This can get expensive.
  2. Support is out of your control. You've outsourced it. If there is a problem you need to rely on a third party to solve it, and since you aren't their only client, are they familiar enough with your particular setup to resolve issues quickly?
  3. Security. You've outsourced this, too. You have to rely on someone else to ensure your data is secure.
  4. This article. This was something we read in Technical Foundations and it appalled me that it could even happen. I am sure it is rare that such a thing could happen, but people lost their businesses over it...and they'd done nothing but have servers in a data center.

What is Progressive Enhancement? Should we care? Why?

Progressive enhancement is a design process that starts simple, focusing on core content, then builds up from there. This strategy allows almost anyone to access your Web site. Slower Internet connections and varying Internet browsers won't hinder access because you've designed and built for those circumstances.

Accessibility is a key component of User Experience, but it goes beyond coding in solutions for low-vision, low-hearing, or limited-mobility users. Accessibility also includes people who don't have access to super fast Internet connections or the latest and greatest computer. If I don't care about whether or not someone with a slow connection can access my content, I'm actually saying I don't care about that user. To me? That's failing at my job.


Hi, everyone!

My name is Cathy and I live in Frederick, Maryland with my husband and our two dogs. I work as a Technology Analyst/Web Developer. We do most of our development in SharePoint, and if you've every used SharePoint you are probably groaning right now. We do it for information security, SharePoint has a lot of permissions and security features we can leverage. We have federal mandates surrounding the release of some of our information, so information security is a Big Deal at work. The fun part of my job is building in SharePoint...and having nobody realize they are using SharePoint.

I have a Bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, University College in Computer and Information Science, and am pursing my Master's in Web Design and Development. I'm taking this course, not just because it is required, but because as a developer I need to better understand design practices (and best practices) in order to continue to create Web sites and applications for my division and the divisions we collaborate with in our daily work.

My hobbies include playing augmented reality games (Ingress and Jurassic World Alive, currently), hanging out with my husband and the dogs, and staying up way too late on the weekends.

You can find my home page at Looking forward to learning with you all this quarter!

Discovery Discussion

For this exercise I interviewed my husband regarding the remote we currently have for an Insignia TV. This is the remote that came with the TV.


  • It's light.
  • It's a decent size.
  • Number keys and other "important" buttons are clearly labeled.


  • Picking accessories to control with the remote requires a lot of scrolling and if you stream TV or movies you have to use the remote plus a cell phone or tablet to start the app from which you are streaming.
  • You'll always have to go into the channel menu to get to the shows you want, even if they are on the same network. There's no way to set "favorites" so you don't have to scroll or memorize a channel number.
  • Physical buttons are prone to wear and failure.

Suggested improvements:

  • Integrate with popular streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu, potentially network streaming apps such as CBS and SyFy.
  • Integrate with other devices such as gaming consoles, DVR, or other devices that connect to a TV, device would be a lot more universal.
  • Add a touch screen interface in addition to physical buttons, touch screen interface allows you to select a device to control, such as the TV, a gaming console, a DVR, a DVD player, etc. Each device menu would have its own submenu so for TV you could set favorite networks/channels or the gaming console menu would allow you to select which console you want if you have multiple, etc.
  • Physical buttons made of stronger material than usual painted rubbery plastic so they last longer without wearing out or fading.

The suggested improvements would result in a remote that greatly enhances the user experience for someone who is watching TV in a non-traditional way. By integrating with streaming apps you actually cover the growing user base who has "unplugged" from cable providers, as well. I've attached my drawing. Pardon my handwriting. It used to be really nice, then we got smart phones. :)

Remote Control Sketch

Discovery Assignment Progress Discussion

My client is a friend and his business partner who have a new project for their company. I will be building the Web site for the project. I've sent the discovery questions for them to look over, as well as sent them our timeline and deliverables for the project. I did this to help set their expectations of what they will have in early November. We're going to talk together this weekend to iron out details of the project as well as go over the interview questions.

User Research Discussion

This has been a week with work being too busy to allow me time to do any schoolwork then losing a day to having to go to a funeral and having to spend a lot of time catching up on classwork instead of having it done earlier in the week, some cat herding, and trying to track down my stakeholder for the assignments due this weekend... Long whiny story short, I was only able to complete one interview.

I interviewed my husband, who is a System Administrator contracted to the Department of Homeland Security. He used his laptop, which runs Linux, to perform the tasks.

His goals were:

  1. Make a dinner reservation for my birthday in November.
  2. Find a place that isn't loud with obnoxious TVs all over the place.
  3. Find a place with low carb options we both like.
  4. Find a place that allows making reservations this far in advance.

He began by pulling up Google Maps, as we do, to see what restaurants are nearby. This leads to the first problem, which is:

  1. You can't really learn much in this view. You can see ratings, but online ratings are typically a little flawed because most of the time people want to share negative experiences. You can access restaurant Web sites, but you need to go to individual sites and check each one.

Other problems he encountered were:

  1. This view only lists some restaurants within a specific range so he might not see everything that is actually available.
  2. Not all of the restaurants had their own Web site.
  3. Not all of the sites he checked had online menus available.
  4. Not all of the restaurants had an online reservation system. My husband has a form of social anxiety that makes it incredibly difficult for him to speak on the phone, so having to call a restaurant for reservations is not going to happen.

I guess I was most surprised by him finding restaurants that don't have their own Web sites. These days it's kind of an expectation that business have one. I didn't really find anything about this hard, so much, it's just a time-consuming way to find something, I guess. My biggest take away is...just tell my husband where I want to go and pick a place where we're already familiar with and wouldn't necessarily need a reservation.

Design Discussion - Task Model

I am working on a Web site for new software that has been created for people like my Sarah persona. The software uses proprietary algorithms to turn social networks into data companies can use to generate actionable leads for clients, increase their contacts, or do market research. As such, I made the goal of my task sheet "Grow Business through Actionable Lead Generation using Data-Driven Business Intelligence" and described tasks the user may need to perform when deciding whether or not to purchase the software.

Image of a task model.

Design Assignments Progress Discussion

I'm finding this exercise really interesting. I didn't think I'd be able to come up with 15 cards for what I consider to be a "brochure" site, but I came up with more! I recruited 4 people (2 male, 2 female, all in the same age range as my personas) because I thought it was a small enough sample to be easily managed but more than 2 so I might see more of a pattern. 3 people responded, the fourth didn't get the link so I resent it because I feel like I might see a better pattern with one more response.

Edit: I got my fourth response and am adding it to the others so I can identify patterns and create my site map. I'm really excited about it!

Coming Soon

Coming Soon