Victoria University’s admission centre allows applicants to apply direct online for a course.
Therefore, applying has to be a clear and intuitive experience.
User flow chart – Competitors analysis – Screen flow – User interface design – Wireframe – Prototype – Sketch – XD CC – InVision – Zeplin – Agile methodology
Applying for a course is easy as ABC!
I reviewed the Domestic application form for Victoria University (VU) to recommend user-driven improvements to support a better conversion rate from application to launch completion.
Providing a seamless online application will reduce the stress of the admission team to assist applicants through their applications, and allow users to apply by themselves.
USER DROP-OFF RATES ARE HIGH
In 2020, user drop-offs are high and students need support from VU to apply successfully. Therefore, the low conversion rate increases the cost spent per application considerably.
The main goal of the UX review was to discover what causes poor conversion rates and makes visitors either leave the form and/or call VU.
meet the team
Roles & responsibilities
I worked with a cross-functional team across Victoria University, including a Digital Producer (DP) in my team and 3 internal stakeholders: VU Admission centre manager, and two developers.
I was the lead UX/UI Designer and focused on usability (structure, flow and features) and aesthetics (brand, design consistency).
We worked agile and delivered the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in 6 sprints. This project took 50% of my capacity.
Scope and constraints
As the scope was to deliver a UX review and not redesign a product from scratch, our challenge was to understand technically the existing platform and design a better solution within those constraints.
My HTML and CSS skills benefit the communication and design implementation with the developers.
For the MVP, and a time constraint to delivery, mobile responsive design was out of scope.
With the support of the DP, our UX review provided a comprehensive UX evaluation of the main issues of the application form. We discovered and mapped problems affecting the user experience by following the process:
Research and discovery
- primary internal VU stakeholder interview to capture the business requirements and applicants’ pain points – feedback collected by the Admission team
- gathered quantitative data via Google Analytics, Hotjar
- gathered qualitative data via previous usability testing report
Defined the goals
- the content readability for general comprehension
- the UX review provided insights into the aesthetics-related issues and design-related issues (how it looks and how it works)
- we documented our findings in spreadsheets, grouped by task, description and user stories.
Usability testing findings
- participants looked in the ‘How to Apply’ section to know what was needed to apply for the course
- when preparing to apply, knowing the deadline for applications is important
- terminology: Secondary school students and parent participants were not as familiar with general university terminology, which impacted their ability to find and understand information.
- Preparing to apply
- consider a course title – ‘I am applying for XXX’
- make sure applicants are on the right application centre – ‘I am a domestic student and applying on the domestic application form’
- consider the process time – ‘how long it takes to submit an application’
- consider a document checklist – ‘before starting my application what are the documents needed (resume, referee details, proof of qualification…)’
- Commencing to apply
- present login options – ‘I use login as I’m a current VU student, I have already an account’
- consider explanation about why you need to create an account – ‘I’m new to VU and I understand that I need to create an account to get started with my application’
- consider existing login system such as facebook and gmail: ‘I have too many accounts, I’d prefer to use my google account credentials’
- explore support options call us, enquire, live chat, browse FAQ – ‘I need support to submit my application’
- Account creation
- provide clarity about potential errors for each input fields with assistive text – ‘I’m aware about eventual error(s) when I informed details
- consider “email confirmation” field to improve the email confirmation experience – ‘I want to avoid email typing mistake’
- consider legal acknowledgement – ‘I agree to VU policies and I’m aware how VU protects my personal details’
- Application progress
- consider a wizard – ‘I understand each steps I have to fill in the form’
- explore a progress feature – “I want to track my time and task progress’
- consider a dashboard – ‘I want to know my application’s status (draft, completed)’
- consider “Save and come back later” CTA – ‘I want to save my details informed and come back later to finish it’
- form structure: we focused on the user flow from the application entry point to the final action steps, highlighted pain points
- on each step, we focused on design improvement and usability
- conducted a competitors analysis to ideate solutions
- we presented our findings through weekly design workshops, using Zoom and Miro in order to collaborate with the team in real-time
Mapped the current user flow and highlighted pain points.
I designed screen flows to map our solutions from entry to end. This visual format provided us support to iterate solutions with stakeholders. Each screen presents how the users’ decisions impact their flow through our product.
- ME bank
Areas of focus
- Preparing to apply
- Commencing to apply
- Form function
- Error handling
- Help and support
I focused on improving the content hierarchy to improve readability.
Prioritise essential infos only.
Pre-application audience modal
The modal asks for confirmation that the user is domestic. If not, there is a link to the international application process. This modal helps support the poor UX on a course page when selecting the audience domestic vs international.
Step 1 – Register
- Create an account – Option to make your password visible by clicking the eye icon.
- Log in – Forget your password link to generate a new one, if needed.
Step 2 – Course details
The Course Details screen will display contextual information depending on the course (information can include the requirement for supplementary forms, specialisations, study options & preferences…).
Step 3 – Personal info
The Personal Info screen offers the applicant an opportunity to update their email address. Sections on this page are:
- Sign up details
- Tell us about yourself Your cultural background
- Contact details Your residency
- About your parents/guardians
- Special consideration (optional)
Step 4 – Study & work history
The Study & work history screen offers applicants the opportunity to add previous education information, previous roles & referees. Advanced standing application forms are included at the bottom of this page. Sections on this page are:
- Study history Educational overview Secondary education Post-secondary education
- Work history Add supporting documentation Referee
- Advanced standing (optional)
Step 5 – Review & submit
An opportunity is given to review all application details before it’s submitted.
Final step – Success screen
Confirmation screen for successful applications. CTA to bring the user to their dashboard. “go to my Applications’
- Draft applications = incomplete applications are listed.
- Submitted applications = submitted applications are listed until an outcome is given: track progress, action required
- Applications history = Applications that are no longer active (expired, declined, withdrawn…) Actions offered on this screen include ‘Contact Us’ prompts (for closed entries) & ‘View Details’ for completed applications.
- Start a new application = “Choose your course” CTA to begin a new application from within the application portal.
Translating the new brand to Digital.
2023 review - in progress
Outcomes & lessons learned
What I learned
Everyone involved in this project was committed to delivering the best product, which made the work highly efficient.
What I will improve for future projects:
- define clear acceptance criteria for the project:
- Communicate the tools we use at the start of a project – especially between designers and developers (developers had a lack of familiarity with Zeplin and Invision which resulted in complications matching the final designs)
- design prototypes for new features – to help developers understand all the states and design interactions (I like to use the Anima app)
Technical limitations stopped us from including the following support features:
- a chatbox
- contextually relevant FAQs on page keep users within the application form and not interrupt the journey – (currently, the FAQs link to another domain and is generic)
What we achieved:
The objective was to increase the YOY student application conversion rate within the Domestic application portal by +1%. This YOY rate was benchmarked in 2019 at 8.12% and improved by 32% after launch.
Next steps – Project phase 2 are currently being reviewed and budgeted.
- design a fully mobile responsive experience
- analyse the data analytics that we put in place at the lunch of the project for continuous improvement (heatmaps, google analytics)
- further usability testing
- implement a contextual FAQ as the GotoVU experience is poor