Simplifying the clearing process, one student at a time

Simplifying the clearing process, one student at a time

Simplifying the clearing process, one student at a time

Research

UX Design

UI Design

Introduction

London South Bank University: Clearing Hub

London South Bank University: Clearing Hub

London South Bank University rank as one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the city of London, boasting indsutry and relevant degrees and a huge drive towards sustainability.


With a strong focus on driving a tech presence, LSBU leverage their digital landscapes to inspire student acquisition and empower existing students amidst their journey.

Team

Toby Margetts - Strategical Director

Leo Cammish - UX Designer

Catia Pedrosa - UX Designer
Arkadiusz Chatys - Sr Engineer
Matt Partridge - Sr. Accnt Manager

What I Did

User Interviews
User Testing
Experience design
UI Design
Interaction Design
Prototyping

Results

At Squiz I worked with LSBU as a strategical UX partner, providing their digital team with web and app based solutions. The output ranged from strategic reports to back technical implementations, and interactive design work for feature projection and/or build purposes.

Background

As a strategic partner, my team were tasked with providing LSBU with digital solutions to improve the clearing application process. The output desired was open (although feasibility and budget adherence were of course followed), but it was requested that we 'think different'.

As a strategic partner, my team were tasked with providing LSBU with digital solutions to improve the clearing application process. The output desired was open (although feasibility and budget adherence were of course followed), but it was requested that we 'think different'.

Every year LSBU recognised that clearing was a painful process, and notoriously left students confused and demotivated with the processes differing slightly from the general application process.

A campaign design showcasing the final clearing hub product.

To discover the core issues, we spoke to the users

Off the back of an initial workshop, we entered a research stage where we agreed to conduct a period of research, followed by interviewing students that had gone through the clearing process specifically within LSBU.

Off the back of an initial workshop, we entered a research stage where we agreed to conduct a period of research, followed by interviewing students that had gone through the clearing process specifically within LSBU.

Summary

User Interviews

We interviewed the existing students and the previous student alumni that had attended LSBU through the clearing process looking to understand their experiences.

Clearing Data Analysis

We worked with LSBU in gathering significant data surrounding the clearing process in the previous 5 years to learn more about the process and gather quantitative statistics to inform decisions.

A prioritisation session held to identify key pain points within the clearing process.

Understanding

In 2022, a total of 35,000 students (7.5%) were placed through clearing.

In 2022, a total of 35,000 students (7.5%) were placed through clearing.

Whilst the number of applicants placed into Universities remains far greater than pre:covid figures, the number of placements yearly remains on the decline.


With the placement figure appearing to be on the decline, we recognised the opportunity to use data gathered during the pandemic to help LSBU streamline the clearing process.

Understanding

Acceptances of applicants from outside of the EU are up 14% year-on-year.

Acceptances of applicants from outside of the EU are up 14% year-on-year.

Off the back of Covid, international students applying to University through the clearing process is increasing for obvious reasons.


Whilst students are managing to navigate their way, international students still echoed the lack of information to help them through the process.

Understanding

38 out of the 50 students interviewed struggled their way through the clearing process at LSBU.

38 out of the 50 students interviewed struggled their way through the clearing process at LSBU.

76% of the students we interviewed intently described the lack of information when being placed through clearing.


Many students walked into campus with little information on what to do or where to go.

A general refresh

was required.

A general refresh was

required.

Problem

Students being placed at LSBU via the Clearing process were not presented with sufficient information prior to attending.

Without a dedicated repository of information, users commonly described themselves referring to other University websites and corners of the internet to seek information on the process and location.

Problem

International students who are non-native speakers had no reference to the student alumni who had run through similar experiences, causing a nervousness.

Without any reference to students in a similar situation, international students found clearing to be a daunting process and only encountered others running through a similar situation when they arrived on campus.

Function-first, to

user-first.

How might we

Deliver a central repository for prospective students to refer to for information during the clearing process?

Deliver a central repository for prospective students to refer to for information during the clearing process?

The chart above shows that the number of students placed at their firm choice university is down by 5.6% year-on-year, indicating a greater focus on clearing should be exercised by universities.

With the placement figure appearing to be on the decline, we recognised the opportunity to use data gathered during the pandemic to help LSBU streamline the clearing process.

Synthesis

Where universities provided a much greater level of digital assistance during the pandemic, we suggested LSBU continue in the same vain in the long term. Users were often falling short during the clearing process, especially international students that aren't native english speakers.

Where universities provided a much greater level of digital assistance during the pandemic, we suggested LSBU continue in the same vain in the long term. Users were often falling short during the clearing process, especially international students that aren't native english speakers.

To resolve this, we suggested the application of a knowledge base dedicated to the clearing process. In implementing a hub of this nature, users would have access to an entire infrastructure of information without having to search explore separate corners of the website.

Solution

Proposition

Solution Proposition

Solution Proposition

Virtual Campus Tours

A particularly handy feature during Covid for universities was the virtual campus tours, but with the increase in international students being placed through clearing this feature holds particularly high value.

Alumni Stories

The addition of alumni stories allows prospective students the opportunity to engage with and learn about previous students, reducing the anxiety students feel when making the move or being placed.

Course Information

Course information and how clearing affects placement for particular courses.

Location / What’s On

For students all across the planet, understanding their potential location was considered an absolute necessity.

Synthesis

The knowledge base was titled 'Clearing hub', and was to inherit an aesthetic slightly different to the layout of the website and application to allow it to stand out as a product in its own right.

The knowledge base was titled 'Clearing hub', and was to inherit an aesthetic slightly different to the layout of the website and application to allow it to stand out as a product in its own right.

It was important to LSBU that we productise Clearing Hub, with the university keen to delegate the management of the hub between Squiz and their digital team. The intention was to evolve the hub into a native application in the near future and further innovate the approach towards clearing.

Solution

Template Compilation

Template Compilation

We worked towards completing the MVP release of the roadmap, delivering key datasets that were immediately available to us that carry significant value to prospective students.

To maintain a cyclical approach, LSBU would continue to add campaign and innovation led content to the roadmap, ensuring the hub would be consistently relevant.

Solution

User Interface Deconvolution

User Interface Deconvolution

I immediately worked towards creating a vastly simplified opening viewport. Through user testing, we discovered a lot of confusion based on the level of options piled into each viewport. Whilst we understand the intention was to present all options to the user, this was very apparently ineffective and caused a great deal of confusion and drop out. 


We added a consistent AWS powered chatbot to empower users in their journey. myHub is still very early in it's lifespan, and users are yet to fully understand its journey fluently. Utilising our AWS chatbot allows the user a hand holding reference point to turn to should they lose their way within their journey.


A simplified global nav offered far greater clarity.

Solution

Single Sign On

Single Sign On

SSO allows users a completely personable experience without having to rely on cookies. Whilst the challenge here provided a number of hurdles from a legal perspective, we managed to navigate a data store solution using Squiz data store that empowered myHub users the ability to save important areas of information that included documentation, tasks and actions, communication, and much more.


The benefit of SSO enabled Squiz & SSCL to work together in constantly driving innovation forward based on feature requests and backlog, thus the constant drive to push more features utilising SSO.


Allowing users the ability to refer to a central repository of tasks and actions hinged on the execution of personalisation, and this was successfully implemented.

Solution

Quicklinks

Quicklinks

Organisations that utilise myHub inherited an out of the box option to incorporate 'Quicklinks' into their home screen whether users are signed in or not. Quicklinks can be organised in multiple ways, be it manual or based on most actionable tasks per organisation.

Solution

Favourite Pages

Favourite Pages

Creating a 'favourites' section on the landing page was one of the most popular suggestions, but the most challenging part of this was making sure the feature empowered both signed in and non-signed in users.


In order to make this beneficial, the consideration was to continue to utilise the most visited pages within the company infrastructure, as well as the 'recently visited' functionality that already existed. This gives users the opportunity as first time users to visit and utilise myHub features through prompt.


Once a user is signed in, they have the capability to save any visited page or operative to their home screen and customise their myHub portal.

Solution

Search Concierge

Search Concierge

The utilisation of Squiz Funnelback (Squiz product) empowered how we approached smart search. With the sheer quantity of content, myHub greatly welcomed smart search optimisation.

Reflections

Reflections

Lesson

As a new product, we discovered multiple gaps within the clearing process that could be simplified through technical innovation.

We received a lot of great, thought evoking feedback off the back of go-live. The knowledge base will continue to be treating as an ever-growing infrastructure that gathers data from it's users and continues to grow in the way it delivers content until LSBU take it into phase 2.

Empowering through empathy, guided by data. Collaboratively driving outcomes that resonate.

Crafted with 💜 by Elliot Rylands

Empowering through empathy, guided by data. Collaboratively driving outcomes that resonate.

Crafted with 💜 by Elliot Rylands

Empowering through empathy, guided by data. Collaboratively driving outcomes that resonate.

Crafted with 💜 by Elliot Rylands