New prospective students at Austin Community College are overwhelmed by the complexity of options and navigation on the college’s website homepage.
After 4 months of research, I guided a team of four through the design thinking process on a 10 hour hackathon event, which resulted in a First Place Award granted by a panel composed of UX industry professionals and ACC’s staff.

Role: Team lead, Research, Experience & Interaction Design and Prototype.
THE CHALLENGE
Website metrics uncovered low conversion rate from initial visit into signing up for a new account. Furthermore, we found an area in the student degree planning process that could be improved and we wanted to explore a solution in this intersection. Other observations were:
• Information Overload:  Catering to new potential student, current students, alumni and staff all at once created a overwhelming experience for all
• Impersonal experience:  New users couldn't relate with the institution, and the offering was too big and confusing to navigate
• Click Fatigue:  Users didn't find what they needed fast and left the site without signing up, or taking the next step
“ 80% of students end up changing
their 
majors at least once.” 
~ National Center for Education Statistics  (2013).
SUMMARIZING THE DATA
A survey of over 150+ ACC students revealed:
After extra research with staff, professors and counselors, we extrapolated that students were not accessing the correct information online, even tho it was present on ACC's site. Students had already tried a different career path that proved unsuccessful and were returning to school to gain a skill that would allow them to enter the workforce. And most importantly both for students and for ACC is that students were having a difficult time signing up for classes online, which was the only way to do it.
“I realize late in the game that my degree choice wouldn’t provide me with the lifestyle I wanted, so I ended up switching mid way, taking me longer to graduate”
~ Daniel (29); Target User

ANALYSIS 
Next, we summarized the reasons why users visited the site. Most importantly we identified questions that users needed answered before they felt compelled to take action, and why these queries were important:
“I’ve been thinking about which degree will have
the most job prospects when I graduate.
A good job means a better life for my family.”  
~ Nicole (26); Target User
SOLUTION EXPLORATION
• Consolidated & adjusted the focus to serve the correct demographic: "New Potential Students"
• Made it simple for this group to reach the information they needed
• Created a personalized onboarding session to learn more about them, and their career goals
• Established the need to inform users about different career paths, including short term and long term resource investment vs. payback.  
• Brought back the connection to the user through voice, engagement and interaction
INITIAL INTERACTION
Developed a user journey through the signup process, identifying the general interaction flow for new students once they landed on the ACC homepage and incorporating ACC's slogan as the premise for the new design: "Start Here - Get There"
TAXONOMY OF USER FLOW
Iterating upon the previous concept, we clarified the needs of the system and the user in order to deliver a customized tailored experience.
QUICK PROTOTYPE
We delineated the main screens on paper and tested our initial prototype and assumptions with students.
“I wish I knew the real cost of my career
before I started taking courses”
~ James (32); Target User


ONBOARDING PROGRESSION
Part of creating a customized experience for the user was dependant on the system learning more about them. We decided to use the Typeform platform for the backend of our onboarding landing survey, using natural language to keep users engaged through the process.
We later formatted the user facing side to match ACC's brand guidelines, as well as angle it towards a more modern style. The most important part on these screens was to let the user know how far along the onboarding survey they were in so as to curve anxiety.
INITIAL VISUAL EXPLORATION WITH NEW USER FLOW SCREENS
REFLECTIONS
• Scope: Due to time constraints, we had to narrow our scope and pivot our focus to new potential students so that we create a solution to pitch in within 24 hours. We realized however that a major overhaul of information architecture was needed after our research uncovered several issues with all the website's visitors. 
Next Steps would have been to curate content for each career program, reevaluate the information architecture and restructuring of the site, and continue doing testing to refine the user flow as well as the visual elements with each iteration.
• Metrics: Success would have been measured by retention rate, graduation percentages, and satisfaction level of students with their new careers over time.

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