UTS Insearch

As the premium pathway provider for the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), UTS Insearch selected Digital Garden to run a user experience (UX) research project as the foundation for their new website development.

Download our UTS Insearch white paper

The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) is one of Australia’s leading higher education institutions and a world-renowned research centre. The university’s reputation for attracting smart minds and fostering great talent makes the educator a prime choice for students from across Australia and around the world.

Transforming the user experience

UTS Insearch engaged us at a time of organisational transformation. With a visual rebrand of UTS underway including a redesign of its website (also by Digital Garden), the plan was to more closely align UTS Insearch with the university itself.

The pathway provider’s website was nearly five years old and not adequately catering to its truly global audience. The backend creation of content - especially for languages other than English - was proving to be too time-consuming and inefficient.

Digital Garden was commissioned to undertake a user experience (UX) project to help reimagine the website journeys and outcomes, for students, education agents and parents alike.

The activities we carried out

Activities and deliverable in this UX project included:

  • Whiteboard workshop for key stakeholders and our UX project team

  • User interviews of students and education agents face-to-face and via Skype

  • User survey of prospective students around the world

  • Desk research on competitors and existing research

  • User journeys and personas mapping based on our findings

  • Final research report of all materials presented to the client

  • SEO and content recommendations for implementing in development phase

  • Information architecture (IA) of the proposed website

  • Interactive prototype demonstrating core functionality

  • User testing of international participants matching target demographics

  • Functional specifications document to supplement the prototype in development

  • UI design concept of homepage for both desktop and mobile

The global challenge

Through our research, Digital Garden proposed solutions that considered varying cultural and language factors for UTS Insearch's global audience, device and internet connectivity, and a split audience of student, parent and channel partner.

In exploring these considerations, the Digital Garden UX project team - Rick, Elle and Paul - interviewed prospective and current students as well as channel partners living in or having moved from Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan.

The solution put forth by Digital Garden was for:

  • a country-of-origin icon to be present in the header of the site

  • custom native language messaging/calls to action tailored to the student's selected originating nation

  • specific course entry requirements, pages and CTAs appearing in context to their chosen country/native language

  • the ability for UTS Insearch to deploy language-specific landing pages that can act as a homepage for certain markets, such as China

  • displaying location-contextual social media feeds and accounts per country, such as Weibo for China (whereas Instagram or Twitter could not display)

Seeking validation

Validating our user research and interview analysis is critical to translating our thinking into the UX of the new site’s interactive prototype.

User interviews, survey results, desk research and our UX expertise informed the creation of the interactive prototype that was to serve as the experiential and functional foundation of the UTS Insearch new website. Following iterations of the prototype with key stakeholders, we set out test out the new UX from an outsider’s perspective.

Usability tests of the interactive prototype were carried out using an online testing platform, engaging users matching our target demographic criteria in some of the key student markets for UTS Insearch.

The user testing helped identify some minor amendments we could make but largely yielded successful outcomes. Navigation, journey flow, country considerations and content all proved to be easy-to-understand and considered, from our analysis of the recorded user sessions and the real-time feedback captured.

A strong foundation

At the completion of the UX project, UTS Insearch was armed with:

  • A deeper understanding of how users across their international markets interact with and what they expect from the site

  • A functional specification and interactive prototype as the foundation for developing the new site

  • A UI homepage concept design that closely aligns the pathway provider with UTS and its own current rebrand

Following Digital Garden's part of the project:

  • UTS Insearch leveraged the UI design concept & direction created by Digital Garden to create the designs of the internal screens you see in these examples

  • UTS Insearch commenced development on a CMS platform that suited their requirements and a development vendor that specialises in this CMS

  • The new site launched in December 2017