Student Experience

Introduction

After a few months of my placement at the University of Edinburgh, I perceived an area of inefficiency in our departments’ services. The department simply did not have the time or budget to run complete User Experience testing, or conduct post-deployment feedback. Having identified this weakness, I made my supervisor aware that something could be done.

Self Assigned Tasks

Martin Morrey, my manager, was content to allow a project from my initiative and requested that I produce a project brief with deliverables such as reports, visualisations and presentations. I devised a strategy to research and build a tool for gathering feedback from users, to then analyse and provide insightful information to make changes for our services.

A Process of Work

I researched methods of eliciting user feedback. My first prototype tool proved ineffective due to the code incompatibilities with the server. Using further research to rectify this problem, I developed a Google Forms based feedback tool which proved highly effective and was integrated within MyEd. Angela Laurins provided a service called ‘Library Pop,’ used weekly by Information Services staff to reach students with their services, provide advice and support. I utilised these sessions to demonstrate our new mobile app and gather feedback from volunteers. I converted the feedback from 160 students into visual data from four library sessions.

Building on this success, it widened the scope of our research, to get more accurate feedback with which we could improve MyEd mobile. Deploying UserVoice’s simple JavaScript code inserted into the site, we reached 2,775 students and staff over the period of 4 months. This surprising amount of accurate, usable feedback was correlated using the UserVoice Console and was distributed to many departments including the Office 365 Mail team. Highlighted in particular was the poor functionality of the Office 365 Mail MyEd portlet. My manager asked me to present my findings and give tutorials on eliciting quality feedback.

Result and Response

Conducting User Experience research highlighted the deficiencies in the department’s services and enabled us to suggest improvements based on users’ feedback. This project proved revolutionary and provided an example of how departments can improve their User Experience using this method. Benefits of this project were:

  • service owners for the Office 365 mail portlet were encouraged to amend the appearance and functionality to provide a better User Experience.

  • a number of reusable techniques and tools were created (UserVoice, Google Forms etc).

  • my Effective Feedback In Education presentation gave my team effective ideas in improving future User Experiences. The project was warmly received in my department. It was gratifying to gather such volume of valuable feedback which prompted positive change for student experience.

The Learning Curve of User Experience

This project taught me the value of challenging the status quo. It taught me to overcome early prototype discouragements and press on to find better solutions. It taught me not for inadequate results but to get as much accurate feedback as possible. Having identified a real problem, having the data to define that problem, and finding areas for improvement gave me increased confidence in presentation. Knowing that concrete improvements could be made, I was surer of my proposal. I also benefitted from exercising tact in confronting UX deficiencies of departments, explaining that feedback is a priority. I also forged better inter-departmental relationships.

Mockups

Business Case

Documenation

UX Presentation

Google Forms

User Voice