Approach-New Student Portal

Problem:

Devmountain’s new student portal did not portray a clear progressions through the admissions process and students got lost in the “admissions pipeline”, therefore causing less students to enroll.

Solution:

Identify and rid of the bottleneck in the admissions process, create clear progression for students, notify students of progression steps.

Outcome:

A faster admissions process, and more students enrolled.

The Process:

Steps: User research, Flow chart, Testing, UX/UI Design

Deliverables: Research Synthesis, Defined processes, Live prototypes, feedback

Overview:

Devmountain offers coding bootcamp that prepare students for the work field in a matter of weeks. Our goal is to get students from inquiring about our company to being admitted to our program in our shortest amount of time possible.

Our UX team had been working on a new student portal for a while already when I was brought onto the team, but they application was not as successful as intended and fixes needed to be made.

I have been working for Devmountain for almost 2 years as an admissions counselor. I was brought onto work with the UX team on this project because of my expertise in the admissions process and my work with individual students.

My Role:

Here were my main responsibilities:

  • Conduct user research: Understand the “bottleneck” points, and pain points for students. Where are they getting stuck? and what can we do to ensure that no longer happens.
  • Flow Chart: Understand the full user experience. Every. Single. Step.
  • UX/UI design: Create intuitive design that helps students follow a consistent flow and maintains the momentum of the marketing leads.
  • User testing: Test our live prototypes, watch students run through our designs in real time.

01- USER RESEARCH

What we did:

I drew from my admissions experience and spoke over the phone with each student that came through our pipeline about their pain points. What they found confusing, and what they found very easy and progressive? I was not only able to watch the student behavior, but hear from their perspective how that experience was for them.

What we learned:

Our UX design within our student portal was not as intuitive as we thought.

Students were getting stuck in these two main areas:

  1. They did not understand the entire admissions process. Have you ever been working through a training or reading a book and not known how long it was? It’s discouraging, and does not give you the ability to plan when you can finish your tasks, and how you will finish them. We needed to create a way for students to see the entire admissions process from the very first step.
  2. Once students finished scheduling their skills review and were waiting on their admissions decision to be made, they were not sure what the next step was. In reality, there was no next step, they were just waiting on our staff to grade their skills review and get them admitted. But students were loosing momentum here and feeling lost. We needed to help them understand they were finished with their action items, and it was now time to play the waiting game, OR we needed to speed up that waiting time to maintain momentum.

02 FLOW CHART

It was important here that we figured out each step in detail. If we were going to make changes to the steps in anyway we need to understand exactly what the admissions process was, and not only that, but what the life of the student was from the initial marketing lead to being enrolled in our course.

This step may seem like it should have been first, and you would be right, this step should have been first, so we had to do some backtracking here to ensure we had our bases covered.

Here is how the flow worked:

Marketing lead →Online application creation →Phone consultation scheduled →Phone consultation → Sent the skills review →Wait for skills review → Admissions to program

Take-aways: From this we were able to learn that the student life was most important as soon as they had their phone consultation. They were most vulnerable, once they had spoken to an admissions counselor, but before they had been admitted. Our original thoughts were reiterated here, but that was important for us as we moved forward.

03 TESTING:

We put what we already had built out inside of LogRocket and watched students click around. We knew at what stage in the process students were getting stuck, what we did not know, is how this correlated to our interface. Where in the interface did students get stuck? Here is what we found:

Students were doing a lot of mindless clicking around the top. As you can see in the ‘activity list’ they know they have completed all of their final steps and now they are just trying to figure out what to do next. We were loosing them here.
Here is the mobile version of our student portal. Students were able to see their progression in the admissions process but could not see individual steps. This even shows a design fixed the team tried. Again, they were getting stuck in the same place. After completing their skills review they did not know what to do next, and this was hurting us and causing more time for our admissions team.

o4 UX/UI Design

What we did:

After watching some log rocket film, I saw that students always gravitate towards the top. They look for answers at the top and often try to click the “current application” window. Drawing their attentions to a different spot on the screen could be helpful for students finding what to do faster. So we moved to ‘Activity List’ up, and rearranged the dashboard a little. This helped students see their progress bar faster and know what their next step was. This also helped solve a white space issue we were struggling with.

Before vs. After

When we found found that a big problem is that we can push students through different parts of the application, but then they get stuck when their application is complete and they don’t have an admissions decision yet.

It helped in leaving messages to help the student understand where to go and what the next step is. We found that simple prompts let the student know where they were, and rid of the panic they felt when they did not know what to do next.

We were also able to break down the admission process step in their activities list a little further and this helped them understand where they were at, and what happens next.

It was important to keep the message simple, short and concise.

What I learned

First, I often times regret to see the value in talking to our users. I am really glad we decided to not only watch what our users were doing but get on the phone and talk with them as well. We were able to find a solution that not only solved the more mechanical issues they were having with finishing the admissions processes but create an interface that helped the student feel more safe. It can be hard transitioning into a new career, and scary paying thousands of dollars to do that, so creating a space where students were informed, and felt secure and confident moving forward meant the world to me.

Second, little things make all the difference, these design changes are not grandiose, and are far from exciting, but I know they made a difference in the experience of our users and in the effectiveness of our admissions teams.

And lastly, but most importantly, I really enjoyed working with my lead designer on this project. I was added to this a little late in the game, but my opinion and work was highly valued. Collaborating and bouncing ideas off of each other was thrilling and I am looking forward to continued collaborative work in the future.

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