A-level results day is one of the most important days in the University calendar, and that applies to us in the digital team. One of the most important tasks for us is ensuring that any A-level students who enter clearing have all the information they need from our website to make a decision about whether (or not) they’d like to join us.
Deciding on which university you want to go to is a huge decision for anyone to make and the whole process means often these decisions have to be made in a hurry. To mitigate the stress, we have to make the user experience of our Clearing pages and systems as simple as we can.
This year one of our main pieces of work has been the development of a self-service form so students can apply directly online.
There are a few reasons why this is important. For the students, it means they have a different option to applying by phone so they can choose an application method that suits them. For the University, it means we can ease the load on a reduced call centre (due to social distancing). And it also means, should another lockdown happen, we could manage without a call centre altogether.
As the form is new and potentially critical, we’ve been very careful with it. In particular, we’ve focused on making it easy for users to:
- access the form with a straightforward user journey from the website, removing the need to select a course twice to apply
- submit the form, reducing confusion by taking users to a confirmation page instead of taken back to a partially editable form
- understand what they need before completing the form, with a simplified “lead in” page
- fill in the form, reducing the number of fields and improving the text on the form to be user-centric
We’ve also updated the Clearing pages themselves to have more user-focused content, mapped to a centralised editorial calendar which details all the internal and external activity around the Clearing period as well as the key user needs over the timeframe. This allows us to promote the right content at the right time and make the content more relevant for those landing on pages from our external advertising. The “look and feel” has also been updated to match the journey of those targeted adverts.
As in previous years, the vacancy tables use our search application and admin tool. So updating availability on courses is a simple task for our colleagues in Admissions and the changes appear instantly for users.
There was a significant number of users browsing the list of courses last year as opposed to searching for specific courses. As a result, we’ve made it easier for them by allowing users to view all clearing vacancies in one go if they want to, rather than clicking through pages of vacancies. We’ve also given a better visual indication that the list has updated when users go between pages of vacancies.