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Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Design sprint 6 prototype walkthrough

In Sprint 6 we explored how to make it easier for applicants to locate information on scholarships and funding they may be eligible for.

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

Our design sprint goal was to identify how we might make all funding opportunities findable and comprehensible to prospective students.

We wanted to explore how we might better integrate scholarships and funding information into the programme pages themselves, and whether new search and content design patterns might improve student understanding of funding opportunities.

How we built the prototype

We used the interactive prototyping software Axure to build this prototype. As we weren’t considering presentational design at this point, we kept the interface looking broadly as it does in the existing degree finders.

We showed how the programme page could make use of an enhanced comprehensive scholarship search facility, by automatically populating that section of the page with appropriate funding opportunities, either based on study level or programme – subject area is too broad for students looking for funding. One of the benefits here would be in bringing greater prominence to funding offered by the university.

For this sprint, we concluded that we would not be able to present a complex scholarships search interface, and potentially many results, within the context of the existing degree finder page layout. So as well as prototyping ‘promoted’ funding opportunities within the degree programme information, we also needed to build a separate prototype funding search interface and a structure for  detailed results.

How we presented to students

We focused on postgraduate international student scenarios for this round of prototype testing, as this audience generate a significant number of enquiries and we also encounter a relatively low conversion rate in some areas when people holding an offer to study conclude that they can’t accept due to lack of available funding.

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 6

The prototype tested well overall. Participants appreciated being able to access all funding opportunities from one location – whether they were offered by the university or an external 3rd party.

Promoted funding opportunities

The selected funds that were pulled through to the programme page were clear and not confusing. The presentation of these was also easily read and understood.

The scholarship detail page was also clear and mostly as expected. The timeline was an unexpected but welcome addition.

Confusion and lack of clarity came up in a few areas of terminology on the funding detail page:

  • “Open” – participants did not understand that this term referred to whether applications were currently being taken or not.
  • “Considered automatically” – participants did not realise that the University would automatically assess them for funding under certain circumstance without the need to apply for them separately.
  • “Duration of award” – it was unclear that this is referring to the different ways that funds can operate, for example, if you need to apply for it on an annual basis.

Some information was desired that we had not included:

  • Detailed description of what was required in the application – for example, what questions would they have to answer
  • Instead of saying the fund was assessed on academic merit – to be explicit about the level of achievement needed.
  • A desire to see previous scholars who had been successful in securing that funding.

The advanced search

This also performed well and mostly as expected.

(There was a prototype limitation which meant multiple filters could not be applied simultaneously. We would expect a functioning system to do that.)

We omitted an ‘apply filters’ button and participants looked for one.

For the most part the chosen filter criteria was understood. Only two filters caused confusion:

  • Opens – as with the scholarship detail page, participants did not understand that this referred to whether applications were currently being taken or not.
  • Fee status – this was somewhat unexpected. Although we are aware it is internal terminology it is widely used across UK universities. However it is only in that context that applicants would be likely to encounter it and are not likely to remember it. It needs to be explained if we continue to use it, although a more easily understood phrase might be better for prospective students.

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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