Nov
24
2016

Enhancing student IT self service – a new collaborative initiative

We are embarking on a collaborative initiative with IS Helpline to improve the quality of online IT support for students. This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the impact of continuous review and improvement processes on the student digital experience.

Earlier in the year, we worked with Head of Operational Services Neil Bruce to provide some insight into how students coped with resolving their own IT problems using the Information Services website.

This demo of the pilot Usability Testing Service was both popular with the 30+ colleagues who attended, and valuable to the Helpline team who were having their website content and processes appraised.

Helping Helpline help our students (previous blog post about the June 2016 event, including attendee feedback)

Staff watch a usability session on screen

Helpline colleagues watch students use their website self help pages

The insight from the session provided a lot of food for thought, and informed new ideas about how online provision could be improved. And since the session in June, Helpline colleagues (with support from our team) have been really busy making changes they believe will address the user problems we saw.

But the real value of usability testing insight comes when the process is repeated regularly.

Establishing a process of continuous improvement

Neil and I agreed that there was a great deal of value to be gained by continuing our working relationship, and with the support of the Director of User Services Division Bryan McGregor, we’ve set up a collaborative process of iterative improvement that will take us through to the end of July 2017.

So, every four-to-six weeks, we will undertake usability testing with current Edinburgh students and look at the issues that generate the most support calls for Helpline. Based on what we learn, Website Programme editors will address the problems we saw through improvements to content, website structure and user journeys with expert input from Helpline and the teams across Information Services that they support.

We’re focusing on issues generating the most support calls because:

  • These are highly likely to be the areas with the poorest user experience for students (hence them contacting Helpline for 1-2-1 assistance)
  • These issues are the ones costing Helpline the most in terms of staff time and number of support calls to address.

By fixing the problems students are encountering we should see:

  • A fall in the number of support calls in these areas
  • A rise in the key analytics metrics relating to engagement with the relevant pages
  • Happier students

We can measure the first two of these metrics pretty easily!

GDS poster with the statement, user research is a team sport.

“User research is a team sport” – the philosophy of the UK Government Digital Service

Improving in the open

We’ll achieve the best results by sharing our insight. There are so many teams across Information Services that Helpline support and who impact the student digital experience. As far as possible, we want to share our successes and our learning with colleagues, so wherever possible the usability test review sessions will be open invite.

The first of these sessions will be happening before the end of the year, and I expect to be promoting the date within the next week or so.

UPDATE: Event booking now open – more details

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Find out more

Read previous posts about the work of the Usability Testing Service

How to run a collaborative usability testing review session

Learn more about the Usability Testing Service

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