Study at St Andrews: usability results

As part of the external website project, we are reconfiguring the current Study at St Andrews section to improve the prospective student’s experience.

Digicomms recently conducted testing specifically to determine the usability of the title for the ‘Study at St Andrews’ section of the University’s website. For this, the following three titles were tested:

  • Study at St Andrews (current name of section)
  • Prospective students
  • Why choose St Andrews?

The tests

Two tests were conducted: test 1 was with prospective undergraduate students, and test 2 was with prospective postgraduate students. The participants had only one task, and this was the same task for both tests. The task was:

“As a prospective student, you are interested in applying to study at the the University of St Andrews. Can you show me where you would find information on how to apply on the University’s website?”

For the user to successfully complete the task, all they had to do was click the heading in the navigation on the University’s homepage (either ‘Prospective students’, ‘Why St Andrews’ or ‘Study at St Andrews’.

If they eventually landed on the ‘How to apply’ page, that was a bonus. A failure was counted if the user navigated to the page via a different route, for example, via Subjects.

For test 1, the three titles listed above were tested. The findings from test 1 showed that, ‘Why choose St Andrews’ was not a viable option. (Of the participants who had this option, only one clicked on it from the homepage.)

However, the findings from test 1 overall were inconclusive, so ‘Study at St Andrews’ and ‘Prospective students’ were tested again. While all students successfully selected ‘Prospective students’ from the homepage, only one out of all of those testing ‘Study at St Andrews’ was unsuccessful.

Test 2 differed from test 1 in terms of the participants (they were postgraduates instead of undergraduates) and because only two titles were being tested: ‘Postgraduate students’ and ‘Study at St Andrews’. The findings of the two tests can be found below.

Can you spot the difference with the current site?

Key findings

  • Overall, the data suggests that the section should remain as ‘Study at St Andrews’.
  • Test 1 was inconclusive, as ‘Prospective students’ was the most successful name; however, there was not a clear ‘winner’. However, test 1 did rule out ‘Why choose St Andrews?’.
  • Test 2 showed that ‘Study at St Andrews’ was more user-friendly than ‘Prospective students’, with 4 out of 5 users successfully selecting ‘Study at St Andrews, whereas only 50% of users testing ‘Prospective students’ were successful.
  • Considering both tests, the data shows that the success rate was the same for both ‘Prospective students’ and ‘Study at St Andrews’.
  • In both tests, the majority of users who did not find the ‘how to apply’ page via ‘Study’ or another option, found the page via ‘Subjects’.

Because there was no drastic, compelling evidence to change the section name to ‘Prospective students’, it has been decided that the section will remain as ‘Study at St Andrews’.

What’s next?

We are planning on conducting more usability testing in the upcoming weeks.

Ideally we would like prospective students (15 to 18 year olds) as they are the predominant target audience. Digicomms offers each student a £10 Amazon voucher for taking part.

If you or someone you know would be interested in testing the pages, please contact digitalcommunications@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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