Design sprint one – course search

Design sprint one – course search

Research roundup

After an initial research phase carried out by multiple team members in different locations, the beginning of this sprint was the perfect opportunity to make sure that everyone had a good overview of all the research that had been going on to date. This featured lightning talks on project vision and business goals, user research summaries and an overview of key findings from stakeholder and student interviews. (You can read more on this here).

‘How might we’ activity

Whilst team members gave an overview of their research, the rest of the group were encouraged on post stick notes to document any ideas they had from this, by answering the question ‘how might we…?’. Rather than thinking of limiting solutions, we were all encouraged to phrase these ideas as opportunities we could solve. This encouraged us to not be limited by the existing site, technology or what other sites are doing.

These ideas were then discussed all together and moved into groups of similar themes. We then voted on for those we felt the most important to focus on across the sprint.


Success metrics

To problem solve effectively together, we needed to create a shared understanding of what success looks like for the project. We thought about the big goal and we could measure this:

GOAL: To increase student numbers year on year
SIGNALS: Potential students looking at course information, coming to visit the campus, potential students applying to Derby
METRIC: Course page views, website engagement, ordering a prospectus, booking an open day, direct applications on the site, choosing Derby as first choice

Empathy building

To help get further into the user’s mindset, we headed out into town to use the current University of Derby website on our phones, to try and find course information. With poor signal, small screens and awkward lighting, it was a challenge. After documenting observations, it encouraged us to come up with ideas that work for the user outside of the ideal viewing conditions and scenarios.

Comparable solution

Looking outside of the education sector, the team took some time to research other sites that might hold potential solutions for the new website. There was a strong theme of car brand sites that were effectively challenging the traditional complex menu layout, and also holiday search sites which did a good job of only showing the necessary filters first to show results quicker. Other examples looked at clearly laid out product comparison tables and page layouts that cleverly pulled out quick to view key information.

Crazy 8s sketching

Next up was fast paced sketch challenges. Each team member took a piece of A3 paper and divided it into 8 sections. With one minute for each, we produced rough sketches for 8 individual ideas for elements of the course search journey. The goal for these was to push beyond traditional ideas, and into more innovative and challenging ideas.

Solution sketching

After dot voting on the quick ideas above, we then moved on to a further set of sketches, but this time working on ideas we wanted to push in more detail, and to a more complete course search journey. The sketches began at a search on the homepage, all the way through to the course detail.

The solutions were then voted on, for those we liked the most, ready for prototyping. Before ending the day, we also highlighted any assumptions that had been made within these sketches, so that we can test later on.

Solution prototyping

The outcome of our design sprints will be working prototypes. For this first sprint we pulled together the ideas from the week and uploaded the course search journey into simple wireframes using Sketch and Invision. We’ll then take these for testing later in the month with students at University of Derby.

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