Not sure what a Design Sprint is? These are fun and interactive problem solving sessions with students, staff and other key members of the public. For more information, read Participate in a Design Sprint to shape future website experiences
Our fourth Design Sprint took place on March 27, 2018. 14 people from across the University gathered together with Steve (Design Manager) and myself (UX Manager) from the Web Services Team. However, there were 5 people who had booked who didn’t show up 😞
|External Relations Department|
|Marketing and comunication||2||3|
|Human Resources and Organizational Development Department|
|Equality and diversity||0||1|
|Directorate of Library and Education Center and Culture and Information|
|Center for Technology and Innovation in Learning||1||1|
|Research and resources||1||1|
|The provision of services||1||1|
|Directorate of Student Services|
|CASTELLO Careers and EIS||1||1|
|Direction of the UoDIT|
|Training school and social work|
|Education and Social Assistance Office||1||1|
|Postgraduate medical education||3||4|
We had a fun and informative day working together trying to solve one of the many problems we face as we create a new university website. The challenge we set ourselves for the day was to solve this problem:
‘What information should a school website communicate?’
Morning, Day 1: Review the problem together
The first part of the Design Sprint had Steve and I present some background information on the problem.
We began by discussing why school web pages were a challenge.
- Duplicate content
- Evidence of user frustration/confusion
- Multiple layouts and templates affect brand trust
- New website!
We then discussed user stories that were identified and voted on by the staff. Applicants and current students had not mentioned schools when providing user stories. This is especially important to note: Applicants and students are not bothered by our facility. Paul Boag (User Experience Designer, Service Design Consultant and Digital Transformation Expert) says it best;
Building a site’s information architecture is a dangerous business. Too often it ends up being structured around organizational silos rather than user mental models.
User stories for staff
As a staff member
I want find rankings/awards for schools and subjects
So I can use them for student recruitment
As a staff member
I want see who works in a school/directorate and what their roles are, including their organizational hierarchy
So I can find people easily
Site search statistics
We use a search engine called Funnelback on our site. This allows us to see the number of searches, among other statistics.
Looking at the academic year so far, we can see that the main keyword for course searches is « languages » with over 84,000 searches. By comparison, the highest search from a school was 211.
Using one of our analytics tools, we are able to select a page and see the inbound and outbound paths for the page. We can see how much traffic is generated from search engines, internal referring pages, external referring sources and direct traffic (people who enter the URL or have it saved as a bookmark or homepage).
Below you can see two sample schools for January-March 2018.
Definition of content requirements
After discussing the issue, we moved on to discussing the traditional approach to web content.
- The content is an afterthought
- No appreciation of user needs
- No understanding of user journey or context
- Assuming that printed content is fine for the web
- Poorly written and off-brand
- No understanding of the connections between different types of content
- Content creation is expensive, disruptive, and inefficient
We then passed the floor to our participants to ask them to define the content requirements for this challenge.
Problem and content discussion
Before thinking about solutions, we asked participants « Do we fully understand the problem? »
What information should a school website communicate?
- Thoughts from post-it notes on lightning bolts
- Experience in existing school sites
- Search for users
- What is your experience of the problem?
We then discussed how to measure success by setting goals using the HEART framework goals.
User attitudes, often gleaned from a survey
Frequency, intensity or depth of the interaction
Acquiring new users of a product or feature
The rate at which existing users return
Completion of the activity
Efficiency, effectiveness and error rate
- We should use visual media to give insight into the school (Happiness)
- The public should be able to search for the school (Engagement)
- Contact details for staff should be prominently displayed (Task Completion)
Afternoon, Day 1: Brainstorm for a solution
After the free lunch we gave people some time to gather their thoughts and understanding from the morning session before moving on to drawing.
Now it was time to move on to the first sketch of the day.
Participants fold an A3 sheet of paper into eight rectangles.
Then they sketch an idea in each rectangle or sketch a trip.
We therefore give participants the following guide.
- Choose the quantity, don’t worry about the details or making them beautiful, just try to convey your idea
- Focus on the main elements or just a part of the page
- Weird, impossible, and impractical ideas often give way to truly inspired ones
Eight ideas in eight minutes. GO!
The countdown we played for the last 30 seconds of the 8 minutes
Once participants completed their eight sketches, we asked each to submit their ideas and then each voted on their favorite ideas.
Photo: one of the participants presenting their Crazy 8
Photo: Participants vote on ideas
After running the Crazy 8s and voting, the participants were given 30 minutes to design a solution based on the ideas of the Crazy 8s and what had been voted on.
Photo: one of the participants discussing their solution sketches
Photo: solution sketches with grades
Once the discussion and voting was complete, the group met to discuss which elements of the concept art would make it to the prototype stage.
Day 2: Prototyping a solution
To test the ideas from the voted solutions, a prototype was designed by Steve, our Design Manager.
While this isn’t the final design, it does allow us to share the prototype for testing and feedback from the wider community.
Photo: The prototype of the school page
View the full prototype and provide feedback
Take a look at the course page prototype and add your comments (keeping in mind the problem we are trying to solve). This prototype has interactive areas you can click to see other pages and tips.
Did you participate in the Design Sprint? Thank you!
We’d like to thank everyone who took a day out of their schedule to join us on the journey to a new course page experience.
There were great ideas and discussions throughout the day and Steve and I were furiously taking notes all day to fuel the design process.
Didn’t do the Design Sprint?
Don’t worry, we have Design Sprints booked every two weeks on Tuesdays throughout 2018.
A day may seem like a lot of time to spend, but when you consider that our website has over 3.5 million visitors a year from every country in the world, then it’s vitally important that we succeed. We can’t do this without engagement from the university community, so anything you can do to get involved or encourage others to participate would be greatly appreciated!
Check out the list below and reserve a spot in one or two Design Sprints that interest you.