Prospective Student Experience
Design Research & Experience Design & UX Design | Collaborator: Annie Ke Julieta Feltrin
As a design research project, this project focused on unveiling the latent needs of the prospective students by in-depth researches and ending up with a smartphone APP that can make the dimensions more interesting, which is like a campus tour at Dartmouth. This is not the whole project we did, but I'm just using this as an example of my design thinking process.
CHALLENGE & EXPLORATION
We started with the challenge as exploring the opportunities to improve the experiences of prospective students at Dartmouth. We took two researches at this stage. The first one was a journey map to identify all the welcoming events at Dartmouth. Most of them are offline events, which are not so appealing with the young. In order to make them more attractive, we labeled out the events that can be improved with digital devices.
We also identified the tribes of prospective students as different tribes will have different experiences in Dartmouth.
Then we conducted interviews focusing students that is related to prospective students at different stages, including prospective students that chose Dartmouth, students didn't choose Dartmouth, admission officers, faculties, guides of tour trips and current students.
We got two important results from this research:
• A good marketing strategy is missing for the welcoming events
The admission office try to provide as many opportunities for the prospective to talk to faculties, current students and special organizations as possible, while many people just don't know these events.
• The design of the Dimensions is not appropriate
Dimensions is something like a campus tour, which is held by the admission office. In this three-day tour, They visit the campus, sit at the courses and talk to people here at Dartmouth, staying with a current student during dimensions. People mentioned that the Dimensions actually didn't help a lot because of its design.
The research details:
We narrowed the scope onto the improvement of Dimensions, since it is the most intuitive way to show what Dartmouth is like to the perspectives. So the next question was: what's the problem for the current Dimensions? We dug deeper into the research, and found out these three problems:
• One-size-fits-all and can't offer a personalized experience of life at Dartmouth
Every prospective student expects a different college experience. A one-size-fits-all admissions event would cause some students to assume that Dartmouth does not offer the services they desire, which is untrue in most cases.
• Dimensions scheduling is not efficient
When a student tries to select which class he's going to attend, he usually has to give up to another one that also interests him, because of time conflicts.
• Prospectives don't have enough chances to talk to current people at Dartmouth
Prospective students are willing to talk to current people at Dartmouth because it's the fastest way to learn about Dartmouth. However, they barely have a chance to talk to faculties, current students or even another prospective student in the Dimensions.
INSIGHTS & BRIGHT SPOTS
Before trying to solve these problems, we got to learn about how people think and what they care most. For the current students, we should figure out why Dartmouth attracted them. For prospectives, what are important for their decisions.
• Many students had one Dartmouth advocate in their lifies
This one Dartmouth advocate is often someone close to the student and an individual the student respects. Prospective students with such an advocate often feel much certain about their decisions than those without.
• Prospective students expect academic, career and social aspects of Dartmouth
Prospective students consider three aspects of each college and made their own decisions based on the academic, career and social behaviors of the colleges.
• Prospective students want to interact with other prospective students, current students, faculty and alumni
Current students and alumni will be the sources for the prospective students to get the first-hand information. Faculty are the core representation of the college’s academic offerings, so they will give them complete academic exposures.
WHAT DO ALL THESE INSIGHTS HAVE IN COMMON?
Obviously, The goal is to improve personal interactions of prospective students, as people prefer to learn about the college from their friends, relatives and even alumni. Specifically, it is not only the interactions between prospective students should be improve. Interactions between prospies and current students and those between prospective students and faculties are also important. So we ask the question:
How might we make the prospective student experience more personal, from start to finish?
By brainstorming, we unpacked and packed all of the information we got, we came to the specific requirements of the prospective students.
After several rounds of brainstorming, we came up with the design decision as: turning the Dimensions into a LBS game. We then sketched the storyboard on paper and showed them to potential users to get preference and feedbacks. The general idea is to generate a personalized Dimensions tour for each prospective student and divide it into missions with online and offline activities. Prospies can learn the aspects of the campus that they are interested in.
From the prospective students, we received positive feedbacks about LBS idea and the personalization setting. We also received suggestions that we can increase the personal interactions in this system. Online game can make the Dimensions more interesting, but the face-to-face interaction was what we cared most.
People can complete missions in small groups together with other prospective students or current students. Based on our findings and the feedbacks, we went through another round of ideation, we ended up including the grouping concept.
After clarifying the idea with storyboard, we dived into the lo-fi prototyping. This process gave us opportunity to give form to our big idea and fix small problems and ignored details.
It took us a lot of time to make a decision on the high fidelity prototype. Between iterations we constantly went back to the original specifications of the prospective students. We used personas to ask ourselves what value we could deliver to them again and again.
USER TESTING & DISCUSSION
We introduced a small user test based on the first version of prototype. Here are what we found:
Overall, users expressed that they like the personalization of the Dimensions Adventure and it makes going to activities feel like a chore and adventure. Users also enjoy how the application puts everything into one digital package and eliminates the hard decisions that come with the plethora of choices at Dimensions.
“I like this new Dimensions because it makes makes deciding which events to go to easier.”
“It’s so much fun and just like the hunting game! ”
In the next phase, we will focus on the calibration of the first version of prototype. Hopefully, the Dimensions Adventure will be in in use of the next admission process.
Insights & Bright spots