When I first arrived at Yale, we mainly used a beautifully designed book to pick our classes.
Over the next few years, the university switched to offering the course catalog primarily through a web interface. The web version was easier to filter and search, but was visually uninspiring, and lost some of the serendipity of flipping through the physical book. I missed stumbling across courses that I hadn’t been looking for
So over the summer I made a website called Classroulette, which aimed to bring back that feeling of serendipity in a digital interface.
In Classroulette, you could hit the space key to get a totally random selection of courses. Then you could click on any course to see a bit more detail, displacing the other courses in a fluid layout. The courses were color coded by their subject area to give some visual hints and make the design more colorful.
By working on Classroulette, I learned about how to make a design playful and fun to use. I also learned more than I wanted to about scraping course information from archaic websites.
It was gratifying to see my classmates find the site useful. Hundreds of people ended up using Classroulette to find classes, and a few people even told me they discovered new intellectual directions by taking classes they found on the site.