Demystifying UX design and testing

Conference roundup by University of London Head of Digital Melanie Read

In the first event of its kind, co-managed by the University of London and the Bloomsbury Learning Environment, learning technologists and digital workers where brought together, to discuss User Experience (UX) processes in an accessible way specifically.

City, University of London President Professor Sir Paul Curran opened the event commenting:"City, University of London has adopted UX approaches not only to support marketing and communications activities but in our academic learning environments.  City is proud to run one of the UK’s few master’s programmes in this field and to conduct cutting-edge research at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design."

Ryan Taylor, Head of Digital at City illustrated by means of City’s case study the user experience journey the institution has implemented to transform their digital assets.

Leading on from Ryan, Professor Jonny Freeman from i2 media research at Goldsmiths University of London, stressed that UX is the whole span of production and experience lifecycle, not just design.  He referred to Ryan’s independency circle where areas cross over and took this further to talk about CUBI research by Corey Stern.

Content
User Goals
Business Goals
Interaction

Andy McGregor, Deputy CIO at Jisc shared his experience with the Google ventures sprint model, which was used to run Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation project. Based on their learnings the team is going to produce a toolkit for universities to enable them to run their own sprints which will include capturing initial ideas through to the stages of developing user journeys.

Tying up the morning session Alessandra Alari, Head of Search Activation at Google and part-time student at City’s master’s programme in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Design discussed the building of the next generation mobile web.

Afternoon workshops included hands-on exercises on:

  • writing for the web, including tips for being on brand and using frameworks such as Bootstrap by Leonard Houx, Senior Instructional Designer at Cass Business School
  • usability research: what is it and why it's important by Dimitra Bazani, UX Researcher at City, HCI Design Centre
  • the concept of segmentation and how to categorise a collection of users into a set of personas by Dr Jane Lessiter from i2 Media research
  • how to embed UX approaches to HE institutions led by Michael Frantzis from Precedent

So why is UX important to Higher Education?

As research organisations we should be talking to our “customers” and understanding their needs. By doing this we can inform ourselves with good design and develop elegant integrated systems which are focused on what the customer needs.

There is a lot of competition in HE and it is our job to take what is complicated and make it easy to understand, so that our students can quickly make informed decisions about their future learning.

Great e-learning experiences allow students to focus their time on the key learning objectives and outcomes of the course. We don’t want to distract them with technological obstacles created by a poor user experience.

If you missed the event, a video of the morning session, presentations and resources are all available on demand.