Undergraduate course pages – research and development

Having already designed, created and launched centralised web pages to advertise the University’s taught postgraduate courses we have now turned our attention to redesigning the way undergraduate courses are advertised.

Why?

The rationale for both the new taught postgraduate course pages and the planned undergraduate course pages are covered in our digital prospectus business case.

screenshot-www-st-andrews-ac-uk-2016-09-15-14-56-26

Undergraduate course pages are currently housed in the course search portal.

Our aim is to develop a more user-friendly process where courses are listed by subject rather than department (see phase 3 of the digital prospectus business case) and course pages contain more tailored and targeted information.

Research

The first phase of this project was research, and we divided this into four categories:

  • assessing our current content
  • competitor research
  • prospective undergraduate student survey
  • staff workshops.

Firstly, we examined the current content that we have available for prospective undergraduate students including course search, the undergraduate prospectus and School websites.

We then undertook a benchmarking exercise to compare our content to that provided by other universities to identify similarities, differences and points for improvement.

We found that most universities’ undergraduate course pages followed a broadly similar structure with an ‘at-a-glance’ section at the top of the page (generally including course name, UCAS code, degree type and duration) followed by a more detailed breakdown of information below. The presentation of this information, however, varied widely with different universities emphasising different aspects of their student experience. From this, we concluded that we needed to conduct our own research into what information we should be prioritising on our undergraduate pages.

We ran a survey for prospective undergraduate students to find out about the information that they are interested in when considering applying to university. In particular, what information they considered important to their decision-making process and what factors might influence their decision. Results from this survey will be available soon.

Finally, we are also running workshops with staff from around the University to discuss the content we are providing for our prospective undergraduate students.

Our main question to staff was: what content about undergraduate courses do you think we need to provide?

We want to include both information that students think is important, but also information that our staff and academics think students need to know too.

An issue raised in these workshops that we hadn’t considered was that parents often play a big role in the university decision-making process. To rectify this oversight, we have developed a prospective undergraduate parent/guardian survey which we are currently collecting responses for. Results should be available in the next few weeks.

Prototype development

Our next step is to develop a series of prototype pages containing the content that we think undergraduate course pages should include.

This is not a one-size-fits-all exercise as our research has found that, for example, Arts and Science applicants have different needs. Joint and triple Honours degree courses pose additional challenges too.

We plan to work on developing these prototype pages in the coming weeks with the aim of presenting them at the next DCPB meeting. We are looking forward to sharing the results of our work with the wider University in due course too.

In the meantime, if you have questions about any aspect of the digital communications team’s work, please feel free to get in contact with us via itservicedesk@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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