Research, Usability Testing, Visual Designer, and Prototyping
Many teens and young artists are applying to expensive art colleges without really understanding their job options. With increasingly busy schedules and expensive tuition prices, the stakes for teens to hurry up and pick the best college are unrealistically high. Furthermore, teens struggle to make sense of the resources available, questionable college ranking sites and convoluted college websites that romanticize their school experience.
I interviewed nine people, three applying for MFA programs, two applying for BFA programs, and four that had graduated from art programs, about their school experience, about the process of looking for art schools, the struggles, the resources they came to rely on, and the information they most desired, yet had difficulty finding.
Based on user interviews, Teens and young artists struggle to find the information about schools they want and real people to guide them through the process. This is where Alumni Hub comes in.
Teens/young artists aspire to job roles they have heard of.
Teens/young artists want guidance from real people working in the field.
Teens/young artists need to feel the source is trustworthy, know them personally.
Teens/young artists want to find the information easily.
Teens/young artists, applying for art school, need a way to speak with alumni about career options because students want guidance from real people about what is possible after art school.
My high level goals are:
Connect users with alumni so they can ask specific questions from a real person.
Provide information about “where alumni are now?” so users can browse possible job options and who they want to talk to.
Provide alumni feedback about their school experience, so users can choose the best school.
For this information to be clear and easy to find. One of the biggest issues about college websites is that there is TOO much information about everything.
Alumni Hub is geared toward teens and young artists applying for BFA and MFA art programs, and who are still figuring out career options. Based on four users I interviewed I created Alumni Hub’s target persona.
Competitive Analysis: Why a college reviewing site is not enough?
One of the users said she “wished there was a yelp for schools”, however none of them use the existing school reviewing sites, like CollegeTimes and StudentReview. I asked users what sites they relied on for information about alumni and schools. Many used social media, like Instagram to look up alumni. I did competitive analysis, focusing on indirect competitors. Through the competitive analysis, I was able to validate my high level goals and what would be key in making my minimum viable product, ease of use and a users ability to chat with alumni personally.
User Flow: Calendly Expedites the Process
What is the first thing users like Hannah consider, when looking for schools?
Based on user interviews, I created a user flow and found that users hesitated when asked if they would message an alumni through social media, email, or through the alum’s website. I tried to think about existing digital tools that could make this part of the process easier for users.
Sketches in InVision
Sketching in InVision made it easier to make changes and share all phases of my ideation for feedback. It enabled me to get to my MVP, so that I could perform usability testing. The usability testing would ultimately be the place where I defined my filters and features.
Usability Testing & Iterations of Wire Frames
I performed 2 rounds of usability testing with the users I had interviewed.
1st Round: four users
Teens/young artists are open to contacting alumni.
Teens/young artists want browsing ability or more search options/filters.
Teens/young artists want to be able to save what they find in a “folder”.
Teens/young artists search schools, then alumni
2nd Round: three users
It is not clear what the website is on the homepage
Takes too many clicks/scroll to get to alumni
Teens/young artists want alumni suggestions
The visual design is a bit busy
Teens/young artists want more information about alumni.
Changes from F2 to F4: Homepage
While making fidelity 2 wireframes of Alumni Hub, I assumed that the product was just for finding alumni and no information about schools would be needed. But through usability testing, I discovered that users almost always search schools first. The schools served as a way of organizing alumni. I changed the tagline text from “find alumni…” to “Find schools.” and the text on the search button from “Search” to “Search Schools”
Many users when looking at fidelity 2 of the homepage were confused by what the website was for, so I added an onboarding section that users see right away.
During usability testing, users voiced that it took too many clicks to contact alumni, so I added in the Calendly and Message button to the Explore Alumni Reviews section as well as any section that shows a list of alumni.
Changes from F2 to F4: School List page
During usability testing, users voice that it took too many clicks to get to alumni, so I added in an Alumni button to the school search results.
Users also voiced that the site looked a little busy, so I cleaned up the visual design for every page.
Changes from F2 to F4: Alumni Profile page
During usability testing, users voiced wanting more information from alumni…
information about classes
information about community and school support
Information about whether the experience was “worth it”
Assuming that alumni wouldn’t be interested in filling out an extensive questionnaire, I created a quick fill in option, so users could get some sense of how alumni felt.
Alumni Hub is a responsive website for teens and young artists looking to go to art school. It’s a site that provides a roster of alumni from art schools all over the country and the most pertinent information students are looking for about schools.
Students find alumni to chat with based on what they want to know.