Challenge

Prospective students are invited to Drexel’s campus for a day of activities to celebrate their acceptance to the university. They have the opportunity to engage with other accepted students as well as program directors for their desired major. After two years worth of Accepted Student’s Days, Drexel had documented inefficiencies in regards to staffing and their visitors not taking full advantage of the event. In addition, there was a lack of alignment about what the goal of this event was from internal stakeholders and participants.

Team

I worked with the Director of UX, our client, and development team.

Role

Conducted user interviews, usability tests, UX and UI design, and UX writing.

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But first …

No, but really. Where to start?

In order to better understand why prospective students weren’t maximizing the event, we had to know all of the ins and outs of how the event was being perceived. We attended the event ourselves to better understand how the event was structured. We also talked to current students that have attended in the past as well as recent high school graduates in order to gain alignment around what content is most useful to a prospective student.

Interviews

We asked students that have recently attended the event a series of questions about their experience and how it could be improved. After multiple interviews, we defined two event student types: a student that is primarily interested in social fit and a student that is primarily interested in academic fit.

Social fit

“I really didn’t know where students like to hang out or what dorm I should check out. I just didn’t know where anything was, really. The campus is really big and it was my first time ever in Philadelphia and I was a little overwhelmed because there was so much I wanted to do.”

Academic fit

“I toured so many schools before deciding to come here and I chose Drexel for the co-op program. I was expecting to hear more specifically about the co-op program for MY program and get to talk to people who completed the co-op program for my major only.”


Through our interviews, we learned something that was unexpected.
Both student types referenced certain people who impacted their day. These people were their parents, who drove them there and spent the entire day with them. Stressors of the event caused friction in their group dynamic and this ultimately affected how the event was perceived.

Defining users’ motivations and developing concepts

The insights that were extracted from our interviews were valuable in helping us inform our design decisions to improve the event’s experience. The areas that needed improvement were exposed and we were able to define what prospective students needed. We also developed concepts that addressed those needs, while working within technical requirements.

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Solution: Event Mobile Application with Portal Integration
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Adoption

Our hypothesis was that the adoption of the application could be an obstacle. To prepare for this, we worked with the marketing team to spread the value of it on communications leading up to the event and the day of as well as developing an incentive for downloading it: free lunch.


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Major-specific content

Prospectives should be able to see content that is specific to their major. In addition to major-specific sessions, they can see what current students have achieved through the co-op program and have the ability to connect with them.


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Quick facts

Both parents and prospective students want a high-level view of the facilities and schedule. Through usability testing, we learned they want key takeaways and don’t want to read too much content on the go. By offering key takeaways about sessions and facilities, event participants can weed out what tours are a must see vs. worth skipping based on what they think will be a good social and academic fit.


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Tone

Prospective students feel intimidated being in a new city surrounded by new people. To help ease this anxiety, it was important to have prompts that help them engage in a dialogue with an Admissions team member. The prompts tackle the top concerns an event participant can have throughout the day and change based on what is being viewed.


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Sense of direction

We learned through research that providing a paper campus map wasn’t enough and that having a sense of direction and making it to more sessions on time was a major pain-point. By utilizing Google Maps APIs, having multiple points of entry for their schedule, and allowing prospectives to set text reminders for sessions they wanted to attend, we empowered them to get to more places and to get their quicker. 


Measuring success

Through collaboration with the IT department, the application was built and used by participants for a full recruitment cycle. We surveyed event participants and Drexel Admissions employees to measure how the event experience has improved and where there is still room for improvement. Participants that used the Accepted Student Day application reported to have a more pleasant day and had less criticisms than previous participants. With the new feedback, the team was able to begin iterations for the next recruitment cycle.

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Redesign

The Drexel event application was incremental in sparking a redesign. The Undergraduate Admissions website is the primary point of entry (and contention) for prospectives registering for the event. It not only needed a new information architecture, but it needed to be brought into the new design system with new content strategy and UX patterns.

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Slow and steady actually can win

The Drexel Accepted App was one small fraction of a larger initiative: to better connect with teenagers through approachable and content-driven experiences. In a large organization, this doesn’t happen overnight. Multiple small wins can eventually lead to a bigger win. In the past, Drexel’s digital presence seemed a lot more like a transaction instead of an organization that wanted a relationship with their applicants. Although it took time, the Drexel Accepted App and the Undergraduate Admissions site transformed the way prospective students perceived the university.

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