Reducing friction for international students by designing a system that builds user confidence through simple user flows and clear language.

September - December 2017

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Roles
Visual Design, UX/UI Design, User Research, Prototyping

Collaborators
Alexandra Thompson, Duaa Zaheer, Joseph Jia

Tools Used
Illustrator, InDesign, InVision, Sketch

Sheridan College is home to 7,500 students from 100 different countries. In 2017, Sheridan College received 13,564 non-unique applications for their Fall Semester intake.

Our team worked directly with Sheridan College's International Centre to redesign their international application system to make the process easier and more seamless for international students.

01_  USER RESEARCH

The brave journey away from comfort

The decision to study overseas takes a lot of courage. This decision is also only the starting point of a long arduous process. My team used this as a starting point for our discovery phase, mirroring the start of the applicant's journey.

My team conducted a series of interviews with international students about their experience when applying to Sheridan College from overseas. We especially wanted to listen to the difficulties they have had during the application process, in order to determine tangible barriers that we may be able to address. Through this process, we uncovered the following key insights:

LANGUAGE BARRIER

Most international students give the online application process a try, but some eventually give up because they lack confidence in their English.

HIRING AN AGENT

Applicants who get discouraged during the process will opt to hire agents to complete the process for them instead. However, these agents are not a resource that is readily available for every applicant.

LIMITED PAYMENT OPTIONS

Some students were also anxious about the payment system because it did not offer flexible options and payments were done through money orders.

LACK OF GUIDANCE

One of the biggest concern, however, was the lack of guidance and information when it comes to translating academic requirements from their country's standards into the Canadian standards.

02_  USER ARCHETYPES & PERSONAS

Who are we designing for?

Using the information that we gathered from our interviews, we created user personas to help guide us in constructing a revised application process. In this process we identified three types of student applicants as the primary users, and two secondary users– an international admissions coordinator and an agent.

PRIMARY USER ARCHETYPES

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The confident, experienced applicant

Sachin

The unassisted, anxious applicant

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The applicant who hired an agent

SECONDARY USER ARCHETYPES

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International Admissions Coordinator

Agent

International Applications Agent

03_  BEHAVIOURAL MAPPING

A deeper look into our users

We mapped out key behavioural attributes to help us understand their challenges and priorities when going through the application process. The behavioural attributes that we focused on were their English proficiency, Level of assistance received during the process, time priorities, financial priorities, and their level of confidence when applying.

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04_  CONTEXT SCENARIOS & DESIGN REQUIREMENTS

The makings of a happy path

Building upon the personas that we have created, we drafted out context scenarios for each of them to identify the elements that will help build the ideal interaction with the product for them– their happy paths.

These elements were further polished into design requirements, and were classified into functional, data, and contextual requirements.  These design requirements define the “what” of the product as we move towards designing the product.

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05_  USER JOURNEYS & PAPER PROTOTYPES

Giving form to insights

Taking what we learned from creating context scenarios and identifying the design requirements for the new application system that we are creating, we began sketching out the early iterations of our wireframes.

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06_  WIREFRAMES

Iterations, iterations, iterations

As the designs finaly take a more tangible form, our team further polished the interface and user flows, eventually turning them into a grey boxes.

REGISTRATION WIREFRAMES

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DASHBOARD WIREFRAMES

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07_  FINAL DESIGNS

Crafting a confident first step for interantional students

We created an experience that builds the user's confidence and minimizes errors when completing their application by breaking down the process into smaller and more manageable tasks, using clear language, and providing easily accessible support.

08_  REFLECTION

More than just pretty interfaces

This project personally remains to be one of the most meaningful projects I have worked on. I was on my sophomore year during the duration of this project, and admittedly, I had a short-sighted view of what designing products and experiences truly meant. I was stubborn in my belief that having pretty looking interfaces was what mattered the most.

Working on this project opened my eyes into the process that a product goes through, even before the first sketches are drawn on paper, and to truly understand the importance of each phase of the design process.

Selected Works

7C LaboratoriesInternship, UX Design, Website Design, Branding

Sheridan International Student Application SystemReducing friction for international students