The research was undertaken on 6-9 month target state improvements of RMIT Online experience. The project goal is to answer how we can improve the public-facing marketing website since over the next year; we may have 10s of courses, many related industry partners and the courses could be sold individually or in bundles.
I wanted to improve the website, giving the users enough information helping them to choose the right course and setting up the simple payment process because the site was only displaying the courses as access to the Learning Platform at the time. The content was generic marketing blurbs, without giving any course information and the payment process was too complicated using RMIT University system. This problem is particularly challenging since no user research was conducted before, and there are diverse subject matters that need to be explored in depth.
We ran four weeks of design sprints based on the Design Thinking methodology, includes empathise, define with HMWs, checking Opportunity areas, ideate, prototype and test. When we were testing, I combined it with user interviews because we haven’t done qualitative research before. From this point, we used the Double Diamond methodology, which involving diverging thinking, converging thinking. We delivered Hi-fi prototypes for the entire website, including the course detail pages, the payment pages and the content strategy.
I led the project and conducted the initial design sprints with the help of the design director.
I worked with the project manager for planning, the user interview and a content design contractor for content strategy, a front-end designer for current site IA review and hi-fi prototypes.
I worked autonomously for:
- comparative analysis (content not covered)
- low-fi and mid-fi prototypes
- conducting user interviews and usability testing
- card sorting
- affinity mapping
- persona development
- IA and content management (content not covered)
- documentation (content not covered)
- recommendation of MVP implementation
My boss and I had a little session, emphasising the users and the business while planning the internal workshops. We came out with a list of the hypothesis that checks on the user’s problems and the business initiatives.
We assumed the mentors and partnerships would become the value of RMIT Online also, creating our community and Slack channel will help the users and build the value.
Putting the user’s hat on, we think about how might we improve the prospects making the right choice of a course. Would their lifestyle affect their enrolment? Do they understand how our classes work and the nature of online study? Are they comfortable to finish a course while they are working professionally? Then, how can we help?
How about payment experience? We are using the RMIT University payment platform that is not customised to short courses (the nature of RMIT Online products, short courses should not collect unnecessary information before enrollment).
And last but least, how might we encourage students’ enrol in other courses to build their careers and become lifelong learners?
- How might the exposure of mentors and strategic partnerships in the value proposition affect potential conversion
- How might the exposure of community and Slack help prospects understand the value of our course community and mentors
- How might we help students make the right choices about courses with a skills matching and recommendation service
- How might we educate students to learn about the nature of the online study in order to be successful when they enrol
- How might the student’s lifestyle and requirements affect their enrolment choices and conversion to enrolment
- How might we make the payment process easy with diverse methods for the students’ instant decision making to enrol
- How might we encourage students’ enrol in other courses to build their careers and become lifelong learners
Internal team workshops
Initially, we conducted a 2-hour workshop with the stakeholders and team members. We explored these HMW statements as a start point, using Value Proposition Canvas, Product/Market Fit Canvas.
We also facilitated a following 2-hour ideation session, going through the ideas we found prior. We solidify the findings, pitching our ideas using Rose, Bud, Thorn technique (aka. pains, gains, risks) and Product Vision template. That helped us to define who the user is, areas of opportunity and that links back to company objectives.
The outputs are transferred into ideation sketches for UI target state and prototypes.
We assumed the users pains:
- They would be hard to find the time, especially if they are professionals.
- Online support will help them from onboarding to finish a course
- They’d look for the value of short courses for their career progression
- Cost of the course will affect their decisions
- Self-discipline and motivation is needed to finish a course successfully
We assumed the users would like to gain:
- New specialised skills or upskill to help in their day jobs
- The flexibility of the courses
- Promotion in their career
- Reputation on skillset from a reputable organisation
Value Proposition Opportunity Flow
According to the workshop outputs, I mapped out the opportunity flow. I grabbed the findings of market fit that reflects B2B opportunities and Value Proposition to B2C’s.
We think localising the courses would help the students for networking
and working with industry partners will boost the reputation of the RMIT Online courses.
Creating quality, self-paced courses with the right information helps the users better building their career.
Boost mentorship will support the students for their time management and keeping motivate themselves to finish a course. Also, diverging the payment options will lead the prospects to conversion.
Now, let’s think about how the prospects make their decision to buy a course. A decision tree helps us to empathise their mental model and the artefacts that effects them to make a decision.
There are two thoughts, to begin with, some people already know what they’d like to study, and some don’t. I decided 3 cases for the people who need help and mapped out their thought process. They are ppl with the purpose of a career change, upskill and some just love learning.
This decision tree is surprisingly proven well from the user interviews later on.
Prototype & Test
I made the draft site flow and sitemap before the testing. Next, I set up mid-fidelity clickable prototypes in Marvel App and selected words and phrases for the card sorting.
Information about the courses, outcomes, mentors and support is crucial to them, and industry partners and the people related to a class also affect their decision making.
The level of the course is required. For example, one particular participant made only two groups out of all cards and named as “Professional(experienced) and Beginners”.
In the purchase process, “instalment” as a payment option seemed not necessary to have, although, “Invoice” is essential to get for the employer’s support.
Some find the wording, “For Business” and “Partnership” is confusing to apply for mentorship.
Community and networking(real-life connection) are also shown as a label in the card sort.
I also find it is interesting that ‘finding courses for employees’ takes the same journey as for B2C customers.
We recruited 7 Participants, local to Melbourne so we can do face to face interviews and testings.
Participants – Blended Approach
- Interested but not enrolled
- Enrolled (not started)
- Enrolled (recently started, mid-course)
- Mixture of gender
- Family status (family with and without kids)
- Discover people’s search behaviour to find the right course for them
- Learn why people use such a search method
- Determine the best way to find a course
- Discover the user’s expectation regarding payment options
- Find opportunities to improve the product in order to engage mentors and B2B conversion
Testing Scenarios & Metrics
- Scope: Exploratory-how to search the course that they are interested in when arriving at the RMIT Online website. Payment-how to find the details of the courses and how to pay for it. Mentor-Where to start the journey to apply mentorship. Partner-find the course that the best suits your employees and finish to purchase it.
- Scenarios: Roles the participants play during test-a prospect who want to change career, a prospect who want to upskill, a digital marketing expert who would like to be a mentor, a general manager who is seeking courses for employees.
- Metrics: Task completion rate(%)
I made a spreadsheet, categorising all the tasks, objective, scenarios and added columns for the insights and rating. This time I was focusing on the documentation side of the data capture to share. Therefore I also specified the insights and the evaluation by each participant.
Task 1 Testing Section(s): Searching options (including guidelines of first-timer student journey) Found in homepage
- Success rate: 93%
- Insights: In terms of search behaviour, there is a mixture as using search bar straight away, using the top menu “Courses” to explore more courses available or following through the guidelines.
Task 2-1 Testing Section(s): Search a course/program Found in homepage, courses page
- Success rate: 93%
- Insights: carousel course display and customer rating on the course detail page have negative feedback.
Task 2-2 Testing Section(s): how it works Found in homepage, about page
- Success rate: 100%
- Insights: the industry partners and the people related to the course on the course detail page is good to see. Time commitment calculator seems to be a good tool to have.
Task 2-3 Testing Section(s): payment process Found in course detail pages
- Success rate: 87%
- Insights: time commitment is more important than price. Users expect the CTA button located on the top and the bottom or always on the screen. “instalment” as a payment option needs more information about what it is and how it works. Invoice is essential to get for the employer’s support.
Task 3 Testing Section(s): Apply mentorship Found in homepage, partnership page
- Success rate: 83%
- Insights: it is confusing where to go between “For Business” or “Partnership” to apply for mentorship. Tab feature is not bright for some people to find critical information. There is not enough information about the mentorship.
Task 4-1 Testing Section(s): training employees Found in: for business
- Success rate: 93%
- Insights: Industry partner information is important to have. Options of contact details are required.
Task 4-2 Testing Section(s): partnership Found in: partnership
- Success rate: 87%
- Insights: finding courses for employees take the same journey as B2C customers.
Open Card Sort
I also ran a card sorting to make sense out of the content organisation. We didn’t have Optimal Workshop set up at the time so I used Trello Board for the testing. The analysis took a lot of extra efforts.
Tested on 12 participants (Mixed approach recruitment)
Time duration: 10-15 mins.
Method: Open Card Sort
Tools: Trello Board on iPad, voice recorder
Data Capture: recorded a brief explanation from the participants after the session and screenshot the testing result
- course information, outcomes, mentors and support is crucial to them.
- some require the level of the course
- one particular participant made only two groups out of all cards and named as “Professional(experienced) and Beginners”
- community and networking(real-life connection) are also shown as a label
Now, I’d like to delve into Our users. We conducted user interviews parallel to the user testing and card sorting.
The exciting thing that we learnt from the interview is that time commitment is a more critical factor than the price of a course for deciding to enrol.
The short course students and prospects concerning the most about ‘Time commitment/management’, obtaining the quality industry recognised ‘skills’ and ‘connection to the industry’. Here are the quotes from the participants.
“The most important thing is the quality of learning content itself.”
“It’s hard to study in weekdays after work.”
“The reason why I studied at Monash Uni is for the internship.”What user says
Also, they said
“Mentors are good, especially the information about what commonly use in the real world. Resources from mentors are great.”
“Industry partnership was important. It is good that they are the potential future company I would work for.”
“What RMITO says about timelines are not realistic.”
I analysed the interviews using the Affinity map method. I grouped the categories,
- Demographic and background of the participants
- Learning experience
- First online study experience (and RMIT Online experience)
- Triggers and motivations
- Time commitment (time fit into their lives)
- Industry connection (mentors and industry partners)
- Pain points
They fall into two overall experiences according to their needs, motivation of studying short courses. That becomes the personas.
When I created these personas, it was purely research-based. I used their pain points and goals. The quotes are what the users emphasised. I also added their “fear, motivations and goals” in the personas. When the users have goals, they act on (use) the products. Motivations come before the act, and usually, it comes from fear or positive impact.
So I created two Personas out of it. One wants to change their careers, and the other is professional want to upskill. I sketched on A1 3M paper and put them on the wall so everyone can see it, empathise them.
Let’s revisit the users’ problems here. Time commitment is the most significant pain point, and industry recognised quality skillset and industry connection are the high priorities.
We address the issues with Live Industry expert mentor assistance (using Slack) and continuously build the partnership with industry recognised companies and building RMIT Online community such as a meetup.
Now, how can we help these on the public-facing website?
Now, how can we help to ease the problems on the public-facing website?
Now, how can we help easing the problems on the public facing website?
- Accurate information about the time length of the video materials and reading materials before enrolment
- Information about the course start/end/next course start dates and duration
- Show the course outline before registration with assignment information, milestones and estimate time commitment
- Give them enough information about the courses and how it works
- Information about industry recognised partners and their testimonials
- Emphasise mentorship and build RMIT Online community including encourage become a mentor through our marketing website
- Bring “Mentorship” out of “Partnership” on the main menu to bridge the future target status of “community.”
- Create sections of “How it works”, “Support” and “Why RMIT Online” on pages to provide them with clear information that they need to make a decision
We believe these solutions can help the prospects and students to choose the right course, support their learning experience that will help to build their career and lead to the industry.
The site pages are as below, and the content reflects the insights from the research.
- Course catalogue page
- Course detail page
- How it works
- Why RMIT Online
- Our partners
We added the detailed information on course detail pages, created “search field on the homepage and the course catalogue page. Also, created separate “How it works”, “Partnership” and “Mentorship” pages.
Agile Implementation Plan
I broke down the changes to each sprint as a suggestion. The product manager and I prioritised it to implement according to course delivery and other business strategy plan.
- Course catalogue page interim solution (navigation and courses page)
- Course detail pages
- Partnership (For Business)
- Homepage facelift
- How it works
- Why RMIT Online
- Payment process (ECB)
- A design style guide (start with the logo, header and footer changes)
- Gradual new style guide implementation
- Finalise with entire menu (new header, footer and navigation )