What's the UX at Your Campus

User experience as a competitive edge

March 2, 2017
User experience and student information systems


“I didn't even know you could do that.”

There are so many things that students can do via the web services at your university. Students can access class scheduling, financial aid information, academic advising appointments, degree progress/requirements, library resources, etc.

User experience (UX) testing should be a regular occurrence for the many university services that students access online. UX testing should be part of an iterative process in which web services interfaces are tweaked, edited, and modified so that students can find (and do) everything that's available via myriad technology-based campus systems.

How many times have you shown a student how to accomplish something via your institution's web-based services that was fundamental to student success?

The UX of web services (desktop and mobile) is everything. Can students do what they want to do without having to have been at your university for the past decade?

I'm reminded of when my mother joined Facebook in 2014. The social network had been in existence since 2004 and for those of us who had been using it since the beginning, our fluency with all of Facebook's functionality was fairly high. Contrast that with my mother who struggled with the UX of Facebook. She had difficulty finding the section for personalizing settings/privacy. And, my mother is quite tech savvy. However, in this instance I had to talk her through Facebook's settings via a phone call. Facebook has vastly improved their UX over the last couple of years. Similarly, has the UX of your university's online services been tested and improved? Do your web services still look like a website from the late 1990s or are they up to date with a modern interface?

How many times have you used your university's web services as a student?

Think of this as the user experience demo from a new user point of view. When students begin their experience at a university, it's usually via an online admissions portal. That first interaction sets the tone for their entire academic journey. Plus, the way a student uses your university information system might not be the same as another user type. When I was an academic advisor, my login credentials gave me access to different screens/functions that made my web view quite different from that of a student. It's important for UX professionals to regularly interact with campus web services via the core (student) experience.

What would happen if every university & college created a user-experience team?

A team that made sure that everything worked in a way that was friendly to humans would be quite novel, useful, and even a competitive edge. Mobile-ready, accessible functionality that is as easy to use any other familiar web service would be the mission of this team.

Imagine how great it would be for a university to consistently and constantly receive positive feedback about the user experience of all of their web-based systems. That would be a phenomenal move.

Hint: This all begins with higher education's technology services providers.


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