NUS Business School

Enriching the “Student Life” experience with Information Architecture

For this project, I was assigned to redesign the Information Architecture and key pages layout of Nanyang University of Singapore (NUS) Business School’s website. The design outcome should meet the user goals of a chosen persona, the goals of the university, and its existing brand of being one of the leading business schools worldwide.

My Roles:

Information Architecture, Usability Testing, Prototype

Project Duration:

3 Weeks

The Challenge

As part of the brief, we were asked to choose one of the three personas to work with. Upon careful consideration, I decided to choose Jessica, a 21 year old Business undergraduate who is about to finish her school holidays. Before the start of the semester, she needs to evaluate the modules she is going to take and find out if there are any extra curricular events she is interested in.

 

However, the NUS Business School website failed to provide those information clearly. Firstly, the events section only offers talks, offering nothing about other events. Second, the modules are segmented within the different departments of the School. This hierarchy of information limits the efficiency of students who wants to know more information about a module. Third, almost 90% of the sub-pages were external links to other pages, directing students outside the website.

Figure 1 (from top):

a)  Events Page nested under Partnership

b) Modules separated by documents

c) Content Audit for webpages under Current Students; uncovering external links

d) 90% of sub-pages under "Current Student" are external links

The Process

Despite having a persona and her pain points at hand, I decided to carry out User Interviews with current NUS Business students anyway to put these pain points into actual context. User interview questions were also driven by these pain points to easily define their habits and behaviours on scheduling modules.

 

Beyond that, I also asked them what web applications, tools and softwares they use to not only facilitate with their planning of modules and finding extra curricular events, but also for their school projects.

 

After the interview session, I also conducted a usability testing on how they can find events and modules on the existing website. I set tasks for them to complete but most of them failed to do so, resorting to the search function to find what they were looking for.

 

At the end of the interview, I conducted an open Card Sorting exercise (Fig. 2) to see how my interviewees categorise the NUS Business school pages nested under “Current Student”.

Figure 2 :

a & b) Conducting Card Sorting Exercise with Business undergraduates

Figure 3: Dendogram result of Card Sorting Exercise

With the new sitemap created from the Card Sorting exercise, I am now able to design solutions based from the newly added content. Before embarking on designing the elements of the webpage, I created a user flow (Fig. 4) so that I won’t leave out any necessary elements out of my design process.

 

As illustrated, there are 2 main components to the new design of the website. One will be the addition of the “Modules” page, the other would be the “Events” page.

Figure 4: New User Flow

Figure 5: Sketches inspired by NUSMod and existing BI dashboards

Based from the user interview, I seek inspiration for my user interface from NUSMod (a web application where students can schedule their modules) and Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards (software used in projects) to generate ideas for my module interface. I chose to incorporate a BI dashboard into my design because I felt that the interface would ease the affordance for business students since they interact with BI tools in their school projects. I decided to emulate these tools as a start and started to redesign it according to my persona who needs to know vital information about her modules and requirements.

After sketching, I digitise these ideas into a working prototype for usability testing. Specific tasks, such as finding modules and events, were given out to 4 participants. Through this exercise, participants encountered many roadblocks and hiccups (Fig. 6), highlighting what needs to be changed in the existing design.

Figure 6: Heat map of areas for improvement after a first round of usability testing

The Solution

Information that matter

At a glance, more estate is given to more commonly used links such as modules, student portals, and events. This way, students can get through what they want more conveniently, with a sneak peek of upcoming events.

More Autonomy on Modules

Upon clicking on Modules, students are now able to either search and browse modules (through different fields such as school and departments) or they can also generate timetable for their upcoming semester with their Student Portal or as a guests.

Smart Schedule Maker

After inputting their academic details, students are able to arrange their list according to module code, title, type of modules, credits, or even exam dates. This way, the system will automate what are the necessary modules you will need to take in that particular semester.

Make Smarter Decisions

Students are also able to delete and add modules. Description of the module can also be accessed with just a click, including description, relevant information and also reviews from past students.

Convenience with Microinteractions

Students are also able to drag-and-drop their modules to other available dates, providing flexibility and ease in scheduling modules without hassle. Students then can share their timetable onto their Student Portal for confirmation.

Events

Now students are given more variety when it comes to events. With the filter tool to select categories and months, students now can efficiently filter to attend to particular events in case that they need to fulfil their credit requirements before the deadline.