I’m Rik Williams, Web Content and User Experience Manager at UCL. I’m responsible for leading user research activities which help make sure that ucl.ac.uk meets the real needs of its customers and the university.
On the 2nd and 3rd of March WAMS and PAMS headed to City Interaction Lab to assess the usability of the new Undergraduate Prospectus branch of the website. Recruiting students is an essential function for the UCL site. Indeed the Prospective Students section underpins at least 26% of all visits to ucl.ac.uk, even though it only has ±1% of the webpages.
We found that the new site is generally effective, and improves upon its predecessor, but that there aspects that we can make easier to use for the customer.
What we did
We recruited seven participants who were representative of the cross-section of our prospective undergraduate student customers. We set scenarios which were mapped to the principal tasks, user journeys and content areas across the Prospective Students site. For example we made sure that we tested not only the new Undergraduate site but also those which support it, like Accommodation and Visit UCL. We asked our participants to think-out-loud as they completed the scenarios using a range of devices, like tablet computers and smartphones.
What we learned
The PAMS team observed a video feed of the testing sessions in an observation room (ably facilitated by Alex Pardoe from ISD). During these sessions they recorded how they thought the websites helped or frustrated the participants as they attempted to complete the scenarios. These observations where then grouped by type and severity in a short workshop after the last research session.
Three things that worked well
A representative quote:
A good-looking website on top of the fact that it’s a really helpful website discussing pretty much everything I could think of about the course itself.
Finding a degree course (A-Z, Subject Area) worked very well. The process of finding collections of suitable degree programmes was very efficient and intuitive. There is scope to improve aspects course search to make it more consistent and effective, but in general it worked very well.
The degree template has to structure and present a complex and voluminous range of content for a programme. This template is effective, in particular its primary navigationn which links to each of the sections on the page. This was especially true on mobile devices where this navigation responded well to the screen size of the devices used.
Finding entry requirements for a degree is an essential task but the content needed is very complex. This is because our customers come from all over the world and many education systems. The mechanism for grade equivalences is discoverable, easy to use and better than (most) of the competition.
Three things that need improving
A representative quote:
I feel very frustrated to be honest. I [just] don’t know why I’m being asked all this information. I don’t feel very comfortable about it.
a hierarchical approach to content design undermined user journeys. For example: it is very difficult to move between the undergraduate website and the accommodation website. Future projects will need to consider user journeys by making sure that they are defined, join-up and are achievable.
users tended to satisfice when looking for information. This meant that they often didn’t find the optimal content for their tasks. For example: they would find a selection of scholarships on a degree page but miss the link the index of all scholarships.
the CRM form, which allows prospective students to register their interest in UCL, is very hard to complete. This is because of its complexity, scale and the need to create an account with UCL.
PAMS and WAMS will be working on implementing solutions iteratively as we work on the Prospective Students site.
Find out more
Contact WAMS if you would like to learn more about how effective your website or application might be, along with the other services we offer:
By Web and Mobile Services (WAMS) , on 19 February 2015
Dear Silva users,
If there are any Silva Editors out there who have used a facility in Silva to put a future date when a certain page should be published,
please take note: we have had to disable this particular feature.
If you’re not sure what this means, you’ve probably never used used it… so ignore.
If you have any questions regarding this, do email email@example.com
We’ve been talking about the new CMS for ages, so what’s actually happening? Well, we are going through an EU tender process to procure our new CMS. This means that there are three stages to the procurement:
Pre-qualification questionnaire – at this stage suppliers are asked to answer a whole range of questions about their company and their way of operating as well as what technological solution they are proposing.
Invitation to tender – this is the stage when the suppliers must answer some in-depth questions about the solution they are suggesting and provide details of costs.
Presentation – this provides an opportunity for UCL to quiz the suppliers further to ensure we are happy with what they are offering. We are also including a hands-on session at this stage. This is where the suppliers make their CMS available for a few content editors to have a go. This will enable us to judge how easy the CMS is to use rather than relying on the suppliers to tell us.
Currently we are just concluding the Pre-qualification questionnaire stage. We have had to score the 21 questionnaires that were submitted and decide on the top 5 or 6 suppliers. These suppliers will then be invited to tender.
I will keep you updated as we go through this process.
By Web and Mobile Services (WAMS) , on 17 November 2014
Web & Mobile Services are inviting you to this term’s WebNet on December 3rd , 2014.
It will take place at 2pm – 4pm in Lecture Theatre B17 in the basement of 1 – 19 Torrington Place.
We are very excited to confirm Paul Boag, digital strategist as our main speaker.
Paul Boag is one of the founders of Headscape, a prolific blogger widely known for his very practical and sometimes controversial blog posts, who tweets regularly at https://twitter.com/boagworld and has over 20 years’ experience of helping organisations manage digital change.
We have asked Paul to touch on a number of issues relevant to web Editors in his talk about ‘Digital Strategy’ such as content strategy and user testing, but are waiting to get the title of his talk confirmed.
Dan Jackson from WAMS will be updating you on Indigo, the design language created by Web & Mobile Services.
We will be advertising the event shortly – no need to book.
Please look out for news, both in ‘The Week at UCL’ and on the ISD website.