Case Study : Boston University
For this exercise, I had to select one university website from a list, interview someone close to me about the website to detect pain points then propose a change with a paper prototype to show the fix found in a medium post 💪
“Learning, Virtue, Piety”
Behind its motto, Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It counts 8 Nobel Laureates and part of them is Martin Luther King. Alexander Graham Bell was a professor there and he invented the telephone in a lab of the university. Its hockey team is actually well-known for its 5 national championships won.
Kevin, 26 years old.
He lives in the east of France.
Currently changing of a professional career and looking for a bootcamp/school.
Experimented internet user.
Moderately comfortable with English.
- What are your first impressions of this site? What do you think about the navigation ? You have 7 seconds.
It’s a bit tight but well organized. It looks great.
- Can you find the school mascot ?
After 1min 30 sec : Fail.
“I have no idea. I’ve checked into campus life, then athleticism … I couldn’t find it.”
After 2 min with search tools : Success.
“I’ve searched “Mascot”, then “Mascot Boston” and found it into an article. It’s a black and white dog looking angry.”
- Does school offer foreign language instruction for Arabic ?
After 4 min 35 sec : Success.
“I’ve checked Study research. Then I went back to the homepage. After some hesitation, I went into public relation but it seems not to be here either.” (he has clicked a lot here, and I felt that I had to explain the question, so I did)
“OK, let me check again. The question was not clear for me. Well, I can go into Academics, then Degree Program and we can see in the letter A tab Arabic language minor is supported.”
!! First pain points appeared here. After he has found the information, he told me that there is too much subcategories into the navigation bar.
- Can you locate the nearest airport to the school ?
After 4 min 30 sec : Fail.
“I’ll click on About … Well, it’s not here. I go back to home, then let’s see if it’s in Admission transfert ? There is a video, I will watch just in case… Nop, nothing here either. Well, I don’t know !”
After 3 min with search tools : Success.
“After searching Airport, I have fallen on a GoogleMaps widget. But well, without Google maps, I would be lost.”
The Pain Points
After the interview, I’ve asked him what he has thought about the website after this test. He said that he gave the impression of not being every time on the same website because the design changed a lot between the different parts.
He has found that there were too many subcategories and they weren’t very explicit at all. He had to use search to find his way.
Nor the header, nor the footer of the website had his interest, missing the “maps” link in the footer, because of the grey color choice.
As I can see, 2 things are important at least for someone : Finding if foreign language are supported and where is the nearest airport !
Both can be solved with a better navigation through the website and I have to solve at least the overwhelmed sub-nav bar and the header/footer readability.
The main problem and how to solve
The main problem : The old design of the website.
How to solve : ☕️ + 🤔 + 🖊 + ??? + ❤️
I would love to explain but there is nothing to explain, the solution comes to my mind instantly and I’ve jumped to the prototype step. I guess my Front End Developer skills helped me to see how I could manage this.
The Paper Prototype
As you can see, I have changed everything 😆
Now, you have the big navigation on the left. The main categories contain a drop-down menu with subcategories to avoid overwhelming navigation.
The Academics section has the foreign language line.
I have added an Address (with nearest airport indication) and a Map.
The header and footer have no border but it has helped me as a guideline for the prototype. They are written in a more contrasted color.
It’s 3.40 am. I guess it’s time to sleep after so many hours working on it but I couldn’t stop until it was done. 😅
It was a very good exercise, I have enjoyed it !
I have used as much as I could all the things I have learned during the prework. I was reading, at the same time, don’t make me think and I was amused to see my persona being a “search dominant” and how “home” was important for his navigation !
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