Student Kathryn Schramm Creates Tag Vocabulary for New Mobile App

Community Profile

Student Kathryn Schramm developed a tagging vocabulary for an innovative local-news mobile application during her summer 2011 internship.

Schramm relied on her knowledge of taxonomies and usability design while working for Tackable, a start-up app development company based in San Jose, California. Tackable recently partnered with the Bay Area News Group to develop the “TapIn Bay Area” app, a live, mobile photojournalism tool that allows local citizens to participate in news reporting.

Schramm was tasked with creating a focused 150-word tag vocabulary to help users label their photos and search content.

“Apps have a totally different interface than websites, because they’re much more instinctive,” Schramm said. “You have to really think about what your user is going to need and then simplify it as much as possible. So instead of creating a tag for ‘San Jose State University,’ we use ‘SJSU’ which is the form of the name that users are more likely to search for on a mobile device.”

The TapIn Bay Area app applies customizable layers to an interactive map, so users can easily see news stories, restaurants, events, reviews, or photos for their particular location. Schramm attended brainstorming sessions with the app’s developers to learn precisely what kinds of tags were needed and which tags had been used in previous apps. She also performed online keyword searches to see which tags were most popular.

Schramm’s previous experience with Tackable’s apps gave her a unique understanding of user needs. An on-campus resident who also works in the School of Library and Information Science department office, Schramm became interested in Tackable’s prototype for the SJSU Spartan Daily student newspaper in early 2011. “I started uploading photos of local places and events and became one of their most active users,” she said.

Working at Tackable provided the opportunity for Schramm to gain LIS experience in a non-traditional field, which made her confident that she could use her MLIS degree in a variety of future careers. “The work environment was also a lot of fun, in a different way,” she said. “Instead of being asked what book I was reading, I was asked what app I was into!” (Currently it’s a game called “Tiny Tower.”)

Schramm enrolled at San José State University School of Information in 2009, and is focusing on technology and youth librarianship. She decided to earn an MLIS and become a children’s librarian while working as an English teacher in Taiwan. “I love the kids’ enthusiasm, and it’s remarkable to see them learn how to read and understand things,” she said. Our school’s online format allowed her to begin her studies while completing her two-year teaching commitment abroad.

Schramm plans to graduate from San José State University School of Information in May 2012.