University of Sydney: Improvement to the USYD mobile app experience
blueegg has been engaged in multiple projects with the University of Sydney (USYD), helping their ICT teams evolve and improve digital touchpoints for USYD Students.
With improvements to their USYD Mobile app as a driving force, USYD was seeking to understand more about the overall student experience they offered. The university was looking to bring improvements to USYD during the first semester of 2018 to maximise uptake by new students.
USYD had already done a soft launch of the USYD Mobile app and it hadn’t gained much traction.
The University was also planning further upgrades to myUni and required insight from users to guide design iteration. Also, the student body at USYD, like any organization, is incredibly diverse and little was understood about what students, especially international students, wanted or needed from their experience at USYD.
There was also no clear directive about how information should be added to USYD, leading to confusion about how to format content and a lack of cohesion across different faculties
Our research activities were planned to start immediately after O-Week 2018. This meant we could analyse usage data of both the myUni website, along with the USYD Mobile App at the commencement of our project. Combined with existing data about the student cohort, this gave us an understanding of users and usage patterns during this time and provided us with validation or new insights in terms of which elements of content the different personas find useful.
Ensuring stakeholder alignment is an important part of our process. We facilitated both individual stakeholder interviews and workshops with stakeholders, to get an understanding of their needs and goals and then aligning those with our research goals. This ensures that the stakeholders are included early in the design process and sets expectations for what goals are to be met for the project.
blueegg conducted over 40 interviews with students at USYD. Cultural Diversity is an important factor in human centred design activities, and with a place as diverse as USYD it is vital that we captured as wide a variety of insights as possible. In order to get an idea on what needed to be improved about the USYD app, we first needed to assess the current state of the app. To achieve this, interviews included a current state usability test, setting an identical task for all participants to complete, along with wide and narrow question sets to provide context and specific qualitative data.
The key issues for users focused on isolation, feeling unprepared academically, unsure of where to seek support and confusing communication platforms. Students didn’t feel a part of the university and experienced significant culture shock during their first year of study.
“I don’t feel a part of the uni, I just walk around I feel isolated, I feel everyone is the same”
“There’s 50 different ways to communicate with you!”
“Hardest part was going to lectures and not knowing how they were formatted”
“The only information I received was information about O-week”
Synthesising the user interviews relied on pattern recognition, and 5 participants of any one persona type was all that was required to establish patterns in the insights they provided us. We identified themes and made recommendations based on the insights generated by the interviews.
International and Domestic Students often feel isolated and disconnected from the University
Students felt like they were not fully prepared for western style of learning
Student Experience is not as cohesive and responsive as it should be for such a large institution
International Students who arrive with no social or family network feel isolated and find it difficult to connect
Need for more contextualised information to support their transition to life in Sydney
Students unsure how best to use their time and how to get involved within the University community
To better understand pain points and barriers to full adoption with the USYD Mobile App and myUni we conducted a current state usability test as part of the student interviews. Participants missed navigation cues and drop down menus, they also reported that they did not take notice of push notifications and therefore missed out on important content and information. Timetable functions were only used at the start of semesters to capture a screenshot that students would then save to their phones. Hotspots for all users were icons for Canvas, Blackboard, SydPay, Careers and Sydney Student.
We presented all of our findings in a workshop with stakeholders. blueegg distilled these findings into a detailed research report and high level deck, which also contained now, next and later recommendations for University of Sydney to move ahead with the project. We are now in an extended project phase with University of Sydney, working with their ICT and Development teams in an Agile environment to design and build out the recommendations from our research.
blueegg were able to focus on creating new design flows and pattterns solutions for key screens across desktop and mobile that were vital to improving the student experience. These screens were all tested and validated with students and recieved extremely positive feedback.
Today, The University of Sydney is continuing to implement key recommendations and designs from blueegg into both their student portal, myUni, as well as there mobile app. The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive and we continue to work with the University to further improve the experience of their students, staff, postgradutates, alumni and the academic community
blueegg is an experience design agency that places users at the centre of evidenced based user driven insights. We specialise in engagement, facilitation, synthesis, design, prototyping, usability testing and human centred outcomes.
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