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Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Immigration project sprint 6 recap: creating a new applying for visa section

In the final sprint of our Student Immigration Service project, we went live with a revamped applying for a visa section and tested our content changes with international students.

User stories for sprint 6

Our previous sprints focused on doing a full content design rework of the user stories we prioritised in the project. In contrast, sprint 6 focused on project wrap-up tasks, namely:

  • editing the rest of the content in the site’s applying for a visa section to follow effective digital content guidelines and University style
  • creating a new homepage that reflected priority level of site content
  • publishing all the new content according to our agreed site structure
  • usability testing the content we developed in sprints 4 and 5 with international students

What we did

Edit the remaining applying for a visa content

In previous sprints, we had been working as a team on a set of user stories together; this sprint, we worked individually on the remaining applying for a visa content and content related to the application journey in different parts of the site (such as travelling to the UK and police registration).

We categorised content as ‘large’ and ‘small’ edits. These classifications referred to how much time and effort we expected to spend on a particular piece of content. It was to help us prioritise which content needed more attention than others.

We met regularly with the Student Immigration Service (SIS) team to go over our content changes. We also met within our own team to peer review each other’s content and align on wording and terminology for consistency.

Create a new homepage

The new SIS homepage with info on applying for a visa and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies at the top.

The new SIS homepage with info on applying for a visa and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies at the top.

In addition to the apply content, we also worked to design a new homepage that reflected the different priority levels of the content on the site.

For example, items like applying for a visa and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) were given more prominence on the homepage than they had previously, while the FAQ section (which gets very few pageviews) was taken down.

Publish all the new content

While we had already gone live with our new enquiry form, CAS and financial requirements content in earlier sprints, sprint 6 focused on publishing the:

  • applying for a visa outside the UK section
  • visa application document checklists
  • remaining applying content

Most importantly, we arranged our new content according to the new website structure we finalised in sprint 5, which aimed to put the content into more logical groupings.

Usability test the content with students

In this 3-week sprint, we went live with content at the end of week 2, so we could spend the remaining days usability testing our content with international students and making any further edits following the testing.

Whereas we had previously been testing individual content areas with staff, we created a longer test script to cover testing all our new content areas with students.

We tested with 6 students, 5 non-EU students who were already on a student visa and 1 EU visiting student who had never been through the visa process before.

We asked them all to approach the content as if they were applying for a visa for a first time from their country of nationality and tell us:

  • what the first thing is they would do to apply for a visa
  • which documents they needed to apply for a visa
  • how long it would take to get a CAS
  • whether they needed to submit financial documents and how much money they would need to show
  • how long they would wait for their visa to be approved
  • what they would do once their visa was approved

What we learned

Our content performed well in testing…

In our usability testing, we found that, overall, our content performed well, and we had no major structural changes to make to the content.

We had a few minor changes (like turning call-to-action links into buttons to make them stand out) and a few content rewrites.

For example, in our step 1 page for how to apply for a visa, we listed example documents a student must provide with their application. Testers thought that these example documents were the only documents they had to provide. As such, we drafted a new page where we have stripped out the examples and link directly to the document checklist, which lists every document.

…but testing was challenging

Testing so many content areas proved difficult. It was challenging to write a script where we wanted students to navigate the site as they would naturally, but we also ultimately had to make sure they visited certain pages to see how our content performed.

It was also a challenge to test with students who had been through the visa process before. While we did ask them to imagine they were applying for the first time, they naturally wanted to share their own experiences as they went through the tasks.

While it was easier to recruit current students, going forward, it would be worth the effort to find prospective students for a test like this.

We collaborate well as a team

Probably the greatest lesson coming out of the entire project is how well my team collaborates with each other and how well we collaborate with the SIS team.

This sprint showcased how well we work together even when we are working on content individually. I was impressed with the content designers’ initiative to schedule in peer reviews to go over each other’s content together.

Our excellent collaborative skills especially helped during the complicated site publishing process, which involved a lot of switching around content in a certain order for things to go smoothly.

We did a great job of keeping each other informed of where we were at in the process, so it was clear when we could proceed onto the next go-live task.

The outputs

Our main deliverable for this sprint was a new applying for a visa section.

See the new applying for a visa section

This section contains the content areas we focused on in sprint 4 and 5, namely:

You can also see our updated content for:

How this sprint informed future work

As this was the last sprint, there were no immediate actions to take into a next sprint.

However, we did walk away with some ideas for future projects and assessing our performance in this project:

  • We want to conduct a usability testing playback session for our team to assess our performance in facilitating sessions. So instead of watching for usability issues, this time we will evaluate what we did well and what we can improve about our facilitation skills.
  • We want to set content review meetings as a team and with stakeholders at the onset of a sprint. Rather than having to constantly check calendars when a new piece of content is ready for review, we can mark off agreed times and choose whether to meet in those spaces or not.

While this sprint wrapped up our initial collaboration with the Student Immigration Service, we already have plans to meet with them in the autumn. After getting through their busy summer period, we want to assess how our content changes have been performing and discuss how we can best collaborate with them on content work going forward.

Learn more

You can read more about this project in our Student Immigration Project sprint recap posts.

Read our Student Immigration Project sprint recaps

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