SEEK Learning - Search Page redesign project

Project team:
1x UX Lead
1x UX designer (myself)
1x UX researcher
1x Visual Designer

My roles:
▶ UX Design
▶ UX Research Planning
▶ UX Research Moderation

The user flow for the SEEK Learning site had 4 steps: perform a search from the home page, choose a qualification from the search results page, choose an institution from a qualification page, enquire on a course page. Our analytics were showing that users were dropping off considerably at each step.

Our hypothesis was that the current user flow was too long, and that we could decrease the drop-off by merging two steps and show both qualifications and institutions on the same page. We were working with the assumption that this shortening the flow ease the drop-off rate, and it would give us an opportunity to present important information to the user earlier in the process to help them determine which course is right for them.

Planning and wireframing
We started with planning sessions and thinking about what the user needs are at the different stages of the flow. We then looked at what information was the most important to users when deciding between qualifications and institutions, and how we could display these on a single page without overwhelming the user.

Designing the prototype
After we fleshed out the wireframes, we worked with the visual designer to make a prototype design of the our search results page. Our goals were to make sure the page was showing the most important information to the user, while keeping it easily scannable. Once it was at a stage we were happy with we built out a prototype flow and prepared for user research.

User Research (First round)
Ran the research, 5 external participants, users were overwhelmed with too many details, we decided to go back to the drawing board and simplify things with a new prototype

We set up the research session, bringing in five participants to run through the desktop prototype and give us their thoughts. Unfortunately reactions didn’t go as expected, many users felt overwhelmed with the new design, feeling that it was too busy and hard to understand.

While not the desired result, we took all the findings from the research sessions and worked with our visual designer to make a simpler and clearer prototype, stripping out any visual noise and keeping only what information was the most important to the user.

User Research (Round 2)
While the second prototype was being built, I took the lead role for the next round of user research. This time I wanted to be extra thorough so I planned out two days of research to test a desktop and a mobile prototype. I planned out the session and learning objectives, and over two days spoke with ten participants over the prototypes.

Thankfully, this time the feedback was much more positive, with many users preferring the new designs and not having any major issues in breaking down the information that was being presented. And on top of that we even got extra feedback and learnings about the site and user needs, adding extra value to the sessions.

Synthesising and sharing the findings
Once the research was complete I synthesised the findings into a pack to be shared with the stakeholders which were received well. As this project was about to bring a major change to the site flow, I put together a showreel of the most valuable participant comments to be presented to the broader team. To make sure everybody in the team enjoyed the session I brought along cupcakes, these were also received well.

Outcomes and learnings
With the research complete and the feedback implemented, the development team built out the new search page design, and the new three step user flow went live on the site. The new flow worked in decreasing drop-off rates and the information being offered is much clearer to users now.

This project taught us not to fall in love with your first prototype. We felt that our original prototype was a sure winner and were given a quick reality check with the first round research feedback. While we want to help users by giving them all the information they need, there is such a thing as too much, too soon.

While the first round of research was not positive, it was an extremely valuable piece of research for the project, and without it we would have encountered bigger problems later on. On a personal note, this was the first major project in which I took the lead to plan, design, moderate and present the user research over multiple days, and it is something I am very proud of.