Designing an app for our college students to get their exam information

JNTUK will forward examination results to the exam section of affiliated colleges. Students have to approach the exam section notice board for their results.

Problem

Many students face inconveniences in getting the data through notice boards and spending time contacting the exam section.

The biggest problem was the examination results are not updated on the JNTUK official website after release.

Challenge

To reduce the student effort to get their examination related information. Especially in the time when their exam results got released.

To reduce the paper used for the notice board.

Summary

I worked with the college development team as a UX Designer and Front end Developer. We eventually developed a Mobile application called “GEC Exam Cell” that reduced the students’ effort by providing information and services to save time and cost-cutting for the exam section.

My Process

This project was a collaborative effort of fellow developers in the college and me. We worked on different aspects of the app together, and few things were handled individually.

Our process started with identifying the existing process problems and understanding the college's students who face the existing process. Then we moved on to designing a solution, making it visually aesthetic and functional.

Design Process.

Research

Primary Research

At the heart of understanding the problem, there should be in-depth research to know the root cause. We did multiple rounds of user research where we Studied 3 groups of people, one regular college student, College Exam section Staff, and a college passed out student.

student in-person interview notes

The key observations are noted down during the In-person interviews.

  • 50% of the students are waiting for the official result link from JNTUK or approaching the exam section notice board.
  • 45% of students are waiting for the photos of their results from their friends.
  • The remaining 5% of students don't know about the release of results.

We also found that the problem is not only with results but also in knowing the exam related information.

The key observations from the Exam section staff interviews.

  • 50% of their usual day goes off by answering the student’s phone call for their results.
  • There is huge paperwork involved in printing out the information for the notice board.

Define

I created a pass-out student’s user story by consolidating the research and my heuristic learning to highlight the exam results' pain points.

user story

Ideation

We started a brainstorming session on ideating possible solutions for the students & exam Section. We also involved exam section staff so that we could have a real user point of view.

  1. Pass the information through the departments’ Heads, which eliminates notice boards.
  • But the information is not directly reached to students since it has to be passed by someone.

2. Broadcast the information via text message. It can be the solution, but it requires a list of all the students’ mobile numbers, and it’s expensive.

After several brainstorming hours and a gazillion cups of coffee and remote calls, we landed on designing a mobile application, so that information from the section directly reaches the students.

Before going into visual design, I made sure to polish the features and user interaction flow.

Application user flow

Design

Sketching

With sketching, we laid down a structure of the app and a foundation for the final solution.

I started sketching different designs to cover all the scenarios and discuss them with team members to get feedback and fix the early-stage problems.

Combing the user flow with wireframes

I made sure to polish the features and user interaction flow through the app’s low fidelity wireframing to list user interaction’s potential features.

Wireframe with user flow

since we cannot test our design prototype with our students, we decided to go with our implemented version.

Testing

To evaluate the results app’s student adoption, we relied on usage metrics in conjunction with 3 usability tests. This allowed us to gain a deeper understanding by combining both qualitative and quantitative information.

Although users could get through their information more quickly, they continued to struggle with minimal UI.

We were surprised to see that the students got disappointed by the alert “unable to connect to the server” due to connectivity issues.

play store reviews

Analyzing the play console statistics, we recognized

  • a decrease in the app’s rating from 5.00 to 3.48
  • 50% increase in the app uninstalls during Aug 2019 — Oct 2019.
play console statistics

The Challenge

“To increase the installs of the app in the play store by improving the student’s experience and solving the alert issue.”

Design Iterations

We have done 3 redesigns of the app to solve the alert issue, improving the student experience, optimizing the app performance to device capability.

1st Redesign solving alert issues and handling network-related issues. So that our app could perform at its best at error handling.

2nd Redesign — improving the student experience while using the app by adding DarkMode support(which is a new feature at the development time). Adding the Exam application submission feature within the app.

3rd Redesign — which was the final redesign mainly focused on optimizing the app’s performance. We also added a new feature called “My Exam Applications” (to know their applied examinations faster) & a brand new look to the application.

Initial concept + Redesign — 1 + Redesign — 2 + Redesign — 3 = GEC Exam Cell

Here I put some of the screens from the redesign — 3 of the student’s app.

Results Page

Showing the available results on the home page of the application with the last date for the Revaluation.

Features.

  • The bottom Navigation menu to easily switch between the different menu options.
  • Search at the top right corner for easy access to their result.
  • The green dots at the end of each examination represents the availability of the result.
results page

Results Display Page

showing the student information, i.e., Name, PIN(Personal Identity Number), Examination name.

Features

  • Showing an error message with illustration If the result of that particular PIN is not available in that examination.
  • Subject Codes for filling their examination application with ease.
  • Search button to search for their friend’s results by hiding friends profile picture (Maintaining Student Privacy).
Result Display page

Outcomes

  • 32% increase in play store rating (from 3.46 to 4.62).
  • 22% increase in the app downloads when compared to the first usability test statistics.
  • Huge reputation to our college that

“First college to have a dedicated application for the exam section”.

My learnings as a UX Designer

  • Defining a proper measurement for success is one of the keys to validate the test results.
  • For complex UX problems, research is a must. I couldn’t have designed a product users love without the help of the people who will actually use it. User interviews revealed unexpected information.
  • The first solution is not always the best. Iterations of the solution can make it better.

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Ravi Kiran Dhulipala

Ravi Kiran Dhulipala

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User experience Designer inclined towards solving for people needs