Service Design at Seelio
A natural transition to service design
Seelio is an educational technology company that helps students understand the 21st century skills employers want, communicate how their education relates to those skills in a professional digital identity, and ultimately use that digital identity to connect with employers and find a job.
As the lead in-house designer since Seelio’s beta launch in 2012, part of my job has involved performing continual user experience research to inform our company roadmap and design decisions.
We had initially created our technology to be a free online tool for all college students. However, a few months after our beta launch, we noticed a void in the educational space and began partnering with universities keen on improving enrollment and retention through experiential learning. Universities were interested in incorporating Seelio into the classroom, in using data from Seelio to track student learning over time, and in showcasing student achievements using Seelio’s showcase feature.
With our new partnerships came a need for new types of services — including in-person support, online-training materials, and academic advising. To streamline our interaction with partner users at every touchpoint, both digital and non-digital, we began implementing a more service-oriented approach to our research: enter Service Design.
Uniting our teams to create a holistic user experience
We focused our research on understanding what was and wasn’t working with our current process by interviewing both service users and service employees — our partner faculty and students and our educational services team members, respectively.
Interviews with partner faculty revealed that most faculty members were easily able to see the value of Seelio as an experiential learning tool. However, they felt unsure of how to incorporate the technology into their syllabi and preferred to rely on the Seelio staff for classroom introductions and technological support.
Interviews with partner students revealed that students enjoyed Seelio’s ease-of-use and general simplicity. However, students’ introductions to Seelio appeared to be subjective and often lost in translation. While some students were being introduced via Seelio emails, others were receiving quick faculty introductions, or being forced to create accounts to complete class assignments. Though students were using Seelio in the classroom, they were failing to grasp its core value as an online portfolio and career preparation tool.
We also wanted to understand the types of services our service employees were providing, the process by which they were providing these services, and their perspectives on the users they were interacting with. Interviews with our educational services team revealed that our team members were developing positive and fruitful relationships with our partners through multiple channels of interaction. However, they were not receiving enough support from our technology and design teams and often felt bogged down by time-intensive and manual tasks.
Following interviews, we began synthesized data from our research to identify patterns, common behaviors, and common goals amongst our service users. Using our findings, we created multiple faculty and student archetypical models — the unsure liberal arts professor, the small-town undecided undergrad, the e-portfolio advocate, etc. Next, we drafted two sets (faculty and student) of primary, secondary, and tertiary personas, which we shared with our educational services team for feedback.
Developing the personas was essential in crafting a lens through which all members of our team could view the users we were designing, servicing, and building for.
With an understanding of our users’ goals and behaviors, we began mapping out the narrative flow of our users at every digital and non-digital touchpoint. In doing so, we were hoping to accomplish three things:
- Understand the end-user’s perception of their experiences at every phase of interaction.
- Identify pain points that could be resolved with service improvements and new features.
- Identify gaps and opportunities for future experiences across touchpoints.
In creating and discussing both faculty and student journeys across Seelio, we were able to understand how imperative it was that we improve communication and collaboration among our educational services, technology, and design teams.
For both faculty and students, the most pain appeared to be in the introduction phase of the journey, where experiences appeared disjointed and inconsistent. For students, gaps appeared in the growth and application phases of the experience. Questions like “How do I use Seelio to track my development throughout college?” And “What happens after graduation?” were yet to be answered.
Improving user experiences one initiative at a time
Over the the course of the next few years, we launched multiple initiatives to alleviate service users’ pains and to fill in gaps we had identified from our research.
To improve faculty and student introductions to Seelio and to provide general support for our users, we:
- Collaborated with our Educational Services Team and our VP of Academics to create help materials. Help materials provide both value-focused and technological support to users.
- Launched a lifecycle email campaign to streamline email messaging and branding across all phases of the user’s experience. Types of emails created include welcome emails, trigger emails, tip emails, and milestone emails.
- Launched a landing page initiative to provide consistent and easily-accessible digital support. Landing pages created include the About Us page, Educators page, Stories page, and Students page.
To provide internal support for our educational services team, we:
- Worked with our development team to create a user-friendly and robust administrative dashboard to automate time-intensive tasks.
- Created and designed consistently branded printed collateral for service team members to hand to faculty and students during on-campus visits.
- Developed an improved process for team members to relay and track service users’ feedback and feature suggestions in order to inform our product roadmap.
To continually support and improve student and faculty interactions at all touchpoints, we:
- Developed educator and student online help databases to provide comprehensive, digital support for users and lesson the support workload of our educational services team.
- Launched a design initiative to help educators on Seelio track portfolio-related assignments, easily interact with their students, and showcase exemplary student work through custom-curated showcases.
- Developed a beta add-on tool to improve student career preparation by helping students understand, build, and track the eight 21st century skills employers want but struggle to find in potential candidates.
The influence of service design on our user experience design process has been imperative in uniting all teams within our company under a shared vision.
We have used the faculty and student personas and journey maps to maintain focus, develop empathy, and inform decisions during each new project. Moreover, we continue to revise our personas and journey maps using qualitative and quantitative insights gained from technological improvements and added processes. In doing so, we have become more confident that we are creating a holistic and streamlined experience for our end users.