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User research / Prototyping / User testing

Uni4U.

Hive collaborated with Uni4U to design, build and user test a prototype website to aid students researching higher education options.

 

Problem

Uni4U partnered with Hive to successfully bid for funding in the HE Open Data Competition. The bid proposed a prototype for a digital, innovative way of helping students choose a university by providing relevant information and statistics. In five weeks, we carried out UX workshops, produced initial wireframes, and then a prototype that was tested with users.

Result

After user research both in Milton Keynes and Sheffield, we identifed both user needs and how to present the required information. By using Webflow CMS, a high-fidelity prototype was created and tested with users. The prototype helped to bring Uni4U’s business case to life and gave us a product on which we can further collaborate.

By working with Hive IT we were able to draw on their extensive user-research and technical expertise to ensure our product is fit-for-purpose.
Rachel Burgon (Co-founder of Uni4U

Card sorting and sketching workshops

To kick off we held a series of workshops in Milton Keynes with local student volunteers. Using a technique called card sorting, we identified the students' key areas of interest when researching universities and ranked them to determine what areas mattered to them most. They also identified information they felt current websites lacked, so it could potentially be added in the future.

The students sketched their ideas of how the website' would look and function, informing our initial thoughts on the prototype, both visually and technically.

User journey mapping

On the following day, we hosted a workshop with Uni4U, mapping out user journeys, and helping us discover how users will use the product. From this, we pieced together how the information the students wanted would fit within the website.

Finally, we conducted a branding workshop, helping Uni4U determine their values, mission and goals for the website. We also spent time discussing the website's personality, settling on the Sage, Magician and Caregiver archetypes.

Wireframes and prototypes

Using the workshop outputs, we created wireframes using Moqups, allowing us to quickly create and share our designs with Uni4U, gaining immediate feedback.

The wireframes were then translated into a detailed prototype using Webflow, a web-based tool for building responsive websites. The prototype was populated with dummy content and basic navigation links, so it could be user tested.

User testing

We invited students from the University Technology College in Sheffield to our User Testing Lab to test the prototype and establish whether they understood the layout and structure of the information, and whether the language was clear. This exercise identified changes to clarify specific functionality within the prototype.

We carried out the same user testing with students in Milton Keynes, recording how they interacted with the prototype. After speaking to the client and a diverse range of students, and referring back to user-testing recordings, we were able to make a final amendments to the prototype to further improve its usability before submitting it for the end-of-project presentation.

Technical investigation

Whilst the user research, design and user testing were being undertaken by our UX department, our technical team were conducting investigations around the available data sets. The LEO data set was a great starting point, but to create a feature-rich solution, we needed supporting data. The team gathered a comprehensive list of available data sets, compared their format, availability and frequency of updates. From this list, we then identified user needs that couldn't be met with the available data, and how we might mitigate them. Additionally, with the further understanding of the vision for the final solution, we created an informed high-level technical architecture, and produced a detailed functional specification for future development.

The finished product

The prototype website provides students with a detailed overview of salaries of graduates on similar courses, and will also match an individual's personality to the universities that suit them. We are looking forward to taking the prototype further during phase 2 of the project, enabling Uni4U and Hive to continue collaborating on this informative and user-friendly tool for students.

You can find out more about the project on the interim website here:http://uni4u.co.uk/.