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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
August 26, 2003

U.S. Postal Service Launches Work by Carnegie Mellon University School of Design's Guide to Mailing for Businesses

PITTSBURGH—The U.S. Postal Service recently published the second installment of the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) project, "A Guide to Mailing for Businesses and Organizations," which was designed by students in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design.

The School of Design seeks to enhance design's impact on everyday life. One example of this impact is the student work completed as part of a collaboration with the United States Postal Service (USPS). The students have undertaken a project to re-design the DMM, a 1,000-plus page directory that contains all the regulations and standards for mailing in the U.S. publication of this document follows the well-received "A Customer's Guide to Mailing," which was distributed to post offices and households across the country last summer.

"The guide is one of the best resources we offer for small- and medium-volume mailers," said Stephen Kearney, vice president of pricing and classification at the USPS, adding that "A Guide to Mailing for Businesses and Organizations" will make mailing easier and more efficient because it is specifically designed around how customers perceive and use the mail.

The goal of the DMM Transformation Project is to create a document that supports the needs and activities of USPS customers and employees. "The current DMM is a cumbersome binder of regulations and standards and it is the goal of the project to reorganize the information into readable, user-friendly materials," said Richard Buchanan, a School of Design professor and project director for the DMM. Because the mailing industry generates approximately $900 billion in commerce annually, and employs about 9 million workers, usability issues are a significant concern for the organization. According to USPS Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bizzotto, "A Guide to Mailing for Businesses and Organizations" walks small business owners through myriad mailing standards that govern mail use and make it easier and more convenient for them to use mail to their advantage.

The DMM Transformation Project team is composed of 15 graduate students and three advisory faculty from the School of Design, who hope to shift the perspective of the DMM from a list of rules, regulations and dense, text-based information to a guide that has clear language, diagrams and images to communicate and support interaction with mail users.

The School of Design team is using a human-centered, task-based approach to introduce a new model of interaction and user experience to mailing. The students are working in collaborative teams with a heavy reliance on field research to develop an information system organized around the activities and needs of postal customers and employees. The design team has divided the 3-inch thick Domestic Mail Manual into several modular sections that are designed to serve the information needs of different segments of users. "The idea is to give the appropriate level of information to each audience, and to present it in a way that is optimized for each type of audience, from household mailers to high-volume professional mailers," said Project Manager Angela Meyer.

The project is a significant undertaking for the School of Design. It is one of the first collaborations of its kind between a design school and a quasi-governmental agency, and it represents an important opportunity for the students to experience the direct application of the process and methods they are learning to real world problems. Furthermore, the research-based approach to increasing accessibility of mailing services also has influenced the vision for the USPS and its products. The Carnegie Mellon team is helping to transform and focus the USPS on the pathways of customer experience.

The School of Design is one of five schools in Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts. The College of Fine Arts is a community of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals organized into five schools: Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and its associated centers and programs. For more information on the DMM Transformation project or the College of Fine Arts contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or email

Note to editors: Both documents, "A Guide to Mailing for Businesses and Organizations" and "A Customer's Guide to Mailing" are available in PDF format. For images of the document please see reference the compact disc or contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or by email at


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