Tony Goins
UX Professional / Content Manager

CState User Journey

About 9 sub-websites and 3-5 third-party systems

This is preliminary work I'm doing to build support for a larger project.

Executive Summary: Our Admissions process involves at least 9 subsites of and 3-5 third-party systems. The college is working on a more streamlined system, but it's a multi-year project. Applying for admission is a key goal, so I want website to assist students through this process.

To the whiteboard!

Over the summer of 2021, I started taking a hard look at our admissions process.

As you can see in the header image, I started by mapping out all the steps on a whiteboard. To illustrate the many steps, I printed screenshots of each separate subsite and third-party system a student needs to navigate to enroll at CState. You can see that below or in the header image.

See it on video

The whiteboard is a useful tool, but it's a little hard to follow and it's certainly not portable. I did a quick video showing all of the various subsites and third-party systems that a student must navigate. I think this shows the process a little more clearly.

Forgive the quality here - like I said, this is all preliminary.

My theory of the case

My theory is the problem with our admissions process is this: It just goes through too many different systems, and there's no clear indicator of how to get from one to the next.

Applying for college involves navigating the website and at least three third-party sites: the Radius Application, the federal, and then our student information system. That's three separate usernames and passwords.

In an ideal situation, you'd create one login that carries you through all of your interactions with our organization. Also, a unified system would walk you through the entire process, rather than referring you to the next web tool.

It's pretty obvious when you think about it, but it's still useful to lay it all out.

Supporting observations

In the course of my research, I picked up a few factoids:

  • Website analytics indicates there's a steep dropoff from the application to the rest of the steps.

  • Our placement testing folks told me about 25% of the students they see have been referred back to them by Academic Advising. Those folks skipped four steps!

  • During my research, the orientation folks put a big section on placement testing on their site. Clearly people are missing a step.

  • Anecdotally, a number of students show up for the first day of class without realizing they needed to choose their own classes.

Preliminary suggestions

Lots more research is needed to develop solutions, but that doesn't stop me from brainstorming:

  • An expanded Get Started Guide that walks students through the steps in more detail.

  • Signposts on key Admissions pages showing students where they are in the process, including next steps (and previous steps).

  • Communications audit to ensure that each step of the process refers students to the next step.

  • Website personalization - so the website remembers where you were in the process and returns you to that step.

(These thoughts only involve Replacing IT systems is already under way.)

Next steps

The college is working on a unified system to eliminate at least one of those logins, but it'll be a few years before it's ready to deploy. At present, I'm exploring how the website can help students through the process.

The next step would involve the classic user research techniques:

  • Workshops with staff and faculty to discover more aspects of the process.

  • User interviews to determine students' pain points in the Admissions flow.

  • Incorporate new insights into an expanded, more granular user journey map.

  • Evaluation of communications sent to students at each point in the process.

CState User Journey

Here's that whiteboard again, without the words on it. This is all off the top of my head, and would require more research.