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Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Design sprint 1 prototype walkthrough

In Sprint 1 we wanted to evaluate the usefulness of a search and filter concept on the University website.

This post is part of a series, summarising our learning as we prototyped and tested potential future features for prospective students.

See the full video series list

Sprint goals

We wanted to learn whether people could identify that the search on the homepage is for all study levels (and not 2 separate searches for UG and PG, as we currently have) and if our filter ideas help them in their search.

  • Was the search result content understandable and clearly communicated?
  • Where there were criteria missing that would help them refine their search?

How we built the prototype

We built a static prototype in Miro for this research, which shows a mock-up of website pages for six steps in a search journey.

How we presented to students

Starting on the home page we set the participants a scenario and task to look for taught postgraduate programmes in History, plus, information that would help them decide whether to stay in employment and study part-time or commit to full-time study.

We then showed the next screen mock-up in sequence.

We also asked participants to visit the University of Bath course search and do the same task, looking for opportunities for postgraduate study but this time looking for degrees that interested them.

We chose the University of Bath’s search as their results page had a different filter design that we could learn from to inform our design.

Prototype scenario video walkthrough

In this video, Nicola gives a tour of the prototype service interface we created in this sprint. She highlights the key features, how we intended it to work and our rationale.

The prototype was developed in little over a day with contributions from the whole team, using everything we learned from the previous week’s research and the contributions of our subject matter experts during the sprint workshops.

What we learned from testing our ideas for sprint 1

Starting from the University homepage, some participants preferred the option to view programmes by subject or an A to Z list rather than search – options other than search are important.

This is because students are wary of missing out on the right degree. Some worried a filter or a search keyword might exclude a programme of interest and they preferred to scroll all search results or A to Z lists for this reason.

After performing a search, the way we displayed search results was helpful. Many participants found the key programme information we included useful and liked the short two line programme description.

Participants liked the filter options we included and that they could filter by several criteria. In addition, they looked for the ability to filter by subject, award, college or school.

Participants liked that the applied filters were displayed on the search results screen with the ability to remove them and the remove filter function was clear.

In comparison with another university, participants found it helpful to have the availability of placements on a degree shown in the search results and filters – something we had not included.

However there were aspects they found confusing:

  • the grouping together of programme title, length and mode of study together in search results made it harder to scan and easily pick out key information.
  • The underlined filter criteria, no checkboxes, were misinterpreted as links to new pages.
  • It was not clear what the numbers against the filter criteria were indicating. Those who did understand what the numbers were for said that it looked strange and hard to read.

What we learned – video walkthrough

In this video, Nicola runs through the prototype service interface highlighting the aspects that worked particularly well for the students we tested with, and the aspects that confused them or didn’t meet their expectations.

Read more

Read more about the user research done in this sprint on the Future Students blog

List of all design sprint summary videos

All blog posts about our degree finder design sprints


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