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 fifth Design Sprint took place on April 10, 2018. The problem we came together to solve was: « What information should a country page provide to meet the needs of the audience? »
Morning, Day 1: Review the problem together
The first part of the Design Sprint saw Rob and I present some background information on the problem.
We started by discussing why country pages were a challenge.
- Evidence of user frustration/confusion
- Uneven user experience
- New website!
We then discussed user stories that were identified and voted on by candidates, including:
- Find details for students from a specific country
- Check the admission requirements for a course
- Check out the English language entry requirements
- Discover the English language courses
- Find out how many students are studying a course and from which countries
Evidence of user frustration
We conducted a survey of all country pages on the website, asking, « Did you find what you were looking for? » The results gave us a clear indication that visitors are frustrated with the current experience and are not finding the information they are looking for.
There was a strong demand for admission requirements and similar information for applicants:
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
- An assumption 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.
Photos: Defining content requirements for country pages
Problem and content discussion
Before thinking about solutions, we asked participants « Do we fully understand the problem? »
What information should a country page communicate?
- Thoughts from post-it notes on lightning bolts
- Experience with existing country pages
- Search for users
- What is your experience of the problem?
We set goals for what we would create in the afternoon. Setting goals for our solution helps guide our ideas so that we achieve something that is:
Photos: Examples of goals created by the participants
Afternoon, Day 1: Brainstorm for a solution
After free lunch, we gave people some time to gather their ideas and knowledge 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.
Here is the guide we give to the participants:
- 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!
Photo: Crazy 8 sketches created by the participants
Once participants completed their eight sketches, we asked each to submit their ideas and then each voted on their favorite ideas.
Photo: Crazy 8 ideas presentation
After running the Crazy 8s and voting, participants were given 30 minutes to draw a solution inspired by the ideas of the Crazy 8s and what was voted on.
Photo: Creating and presenting solution sketches
Day 2: Prototyping a solution
To test the ideas from the voted solutions, we designed a prototype. While this isn’t the final design, it does allow us to share the prototype for testing and feedback from the wider community.
View the full prototype and provide feedback
Check out the country page prototype and add your comments (keeping in mind the problem we’re trying to solve). This prototype has interactive areas you can click to see other pages and tips.
Next step: test the prototype
As well as gathering feedback via comments on the prototype itself, the solution will be tested with staff and students over the next week.
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 country page experience.
There were great ideas and discussions throughout the day. Some great ideas, unfortunately, didn’t make it into the prototype, but we have notes and photos of everything that will feed into the design process going forward.
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.