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Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Doing guerrilla usability research at the postgraduate open day

As the UX Specialist within the team, I led the guerrilla usability testing at the University’s Postgraduate Open Days on 13 and 15 November. This approach is really quick, cheap and easy to run, and provided a great opportunity for our team to engage directly with prospective students.

As a new team, some new to the University (myself included), we were enthusiastic in starting user research and getting to know our target audience and their needs when deciding whether to apply to study. The PG Open Day was an excellent opportunity to gather user insight directly from target users.

What we did

We ran guerrilla usability testing as this method is short and informal, and doesn’t require finding participants in advance. This type of research is fun and fascinating as you never know what you’ll find when you turn up at the location. The open day attendees were really approachable and needed no persuading to take part in our research – even without an incentive.

Learn more about guerrilla usability testing from the Website and Communications blog

The attendees of the open day had a busy schedule, but the quickness of this method of testing meant that attendees weren’t kept for too long, taking no more than 10 minutes of their time.

The week of the testing, I briefed the team and ran through the testing plan and script. This pilot test was to validate the wording of the tasks and understand the time necessary for each stage of the session which consisted of:

  • a brief introduction to introduce who we were and what we were doing
  • pre-test interview to get basic information about the attendees and their reasons for attending the open day
  • a task on either tuition fees or funding using the iPad

The pilot test also allows for testing the recording of the sessions using the free TechSmith Capture app on the iPad to record the screen activity and the conversation.

I also informed our colleagues in the Fees and Scholarships services and the Postgraduate Recruitment Team so that they were aware of our research, and who we were when roaming around and approaching attendees with clipboards and iPads.

Outcomes of the day

The team split over the two central locations where attendees would be. With charged iPads, consent forms and test scripts in hand, we went out among the crowds and communicated with each other throughout the day using WhatsApp. This allowed me to keep track of the number of completed sessions, for which type of student (PGT or PGR), which task (fees or funding) and making sure that our research approach and questions were still relevant.

Following the testing the team then recorded their sessions on an Excel spreadsheet, along with important key findings whilst they were still fresh.

We conducted tests with over 40 prospective students. It was good for the team to do as much as they could on the day as a way of practising this type of testing and observing users interact with the University website.

The sessions showed us what people did when we asked them to find the information and using a think aloud method to get users to talk aloud about what they are thinking as they go about finding the information.

Join us to review the research

We are running events in January to showcase a selection of the recordings showing completing top tasks on the website.

At these sessions we’ll use a collaborative technique used to validate, interpret and prioritise research data, and we would like our colleagues to help us do this.

Your input will help us to prioritise the most critical usability issues students encountered alongside the relevant service teams.

Book your place on our open day playback session

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