User testing our UG online prospectus

Recently my colleague Fritha Hassell and I conducted a user testing study on our undergraduate online prospectus pages.

We wanted to know how effective the current layout of our course pages are and whether there are any areas of the online prospectus causing setbacks for our users.

This is to help inform the improvements we make to our online prospectus and in particular to  the 2014 UG online prospectus, which we hope will be the first prospectus outputted using the new CMS.

The study was conducted with year 12 students in a number of schools – with six participants in total. Users were asked to conduct a series of tasks such as researching  information about a programme of study; finding out how to apply for it and looking up information about fees and funding.

We couldn’t have asked for better participants and the insights they gave us were invaluable. We learned a lot – such as that a colour we were using for callouts made users think they were ‘greyed out’ and unimportant (we swiftly changed that colour!)

We also discovered a few blindspots on our course pages and that some information isn’t as clear as it could be. However, we were pleased to find that  the layout of our programme pages generally works well – so they’ll just need a few tweaks and of course we’ll need to figure out how to house a KIS widget on each of them.

For those interested in user testing, I can thoroughly recommend the training given by the Neilsen Norman Group and the book Rocket Science Made Easy by Steve Krug which gives sample scripts and helps you plan a study from start to finish.

We have also purchased the user testing software Morae which we trialled on this study. We’ve had a few glitches so far with the observer software but have managed to record the user testing with the screen recorder, which is great for capturing the usability issues in action.

All in all a successful study and it was really interesting to hear what the school pupils thought about going to university and how they went about researching and choosing a course for them.


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