Last month we marked the end of the first financial year of the Online Estate Services Programme. A team away day gave us time to reflect on all we had delivered so far, what went well, and where we could improve.

Some of the highlights for delivery have included:

The Fees and Funding Calculator went live on the website in February, giving prospective and current students easy access to course fees and funding information for their study at UAL. The calculator had over 15,000 pages views in the first 7 weeks of use. Getting 16 web pages of content (from our own website and external websites) into an easy to use calculator and further releases based on user testing was a real achievement.

March saw the launch of a new and improved look and feel for our homepage and college landing page designs as well as improvements to the UAL website navigation. The changes were made to help user journeys and most importantly help users find the information they need more quickly and easily. Consulting with over 60 internal stakeholders and prospective students from all of our colleges, meant we were able to blend user and business needs in the delivery of the project.

In July we introduced Google-integrated 360 degree virtual tours with custom navigation of all of our college buildings and halls of residence.

There have also been smaller improvements and quick wins in a number of areas, including the short course section of the website and MyUAL, the student app.

One of the biggest successes of the programme is changing the ways in which we work. We have been using Google Analytics extensively to make decisions with regard to our digital channels. We have also carried out a lot of user research (regular user testing in the development and delivery of products and testing out ideas with focus groups). These sessions have been held with key audiences of prospective and current students, and also staff members. This has been essential to us making choices based on user needs, and challenging the organisation (including ourselves) when we make assumptions about what users want. The Student Digital Ambassadors in particular have been really useful in helping us shape services that students want and need. We are currently recruiting for a new group of Student Digital Ambassadors.

One of the things we learnt is that the length of our ‘discovery’ phases could often have been shorter than they were. We did a months worth of discovery on some of our projects, where we think with hindsight we would have come to the same conclusion earlier on in the process. This is something we will definitely be changing this year.

Post by Kelly Harrison – Head of Online Services