Prospective PG student survey results

Felicity Wild
Monday 11 April 2016

The digital communications team aims to adhere to the principles of user-centred design in everything we do.

An integral part of this process is collecting user feedback.

This is important at the beginning of a project as a means of requirements gathering; throughout a project as we make iterative improvements; and finally at the end to confirm that our product is successful.

We collect user feedback through web surveys and usability testing.

Our digital prospectus project has been shaped by user feedback, and as we launch the postgraduate taught course (PGT) pages, we thought we should share our rationale for their content and structure.

Old-style designed webpage

Information is organised under the following headings: Key information, Course information, Conference and events, Funding, After the MLitt/MSc/MRes and Contact.

Prioritising information

This structure was informed by the results of a user feedback survey conducted last year with over 300 prospective postgraduate students. We wanted to find out what information students are looking for when they come to the PGT pages of the University website.

We asked for contextual information such as:

  • what subject area are you thinking of applying for?
  • where did you study your undergraduate degree?

However, the most pertinent question for us was:

What information was (or would be) of most importance to you when you were deciding to choose St Andrews for postgraduate study?

The top five most highly rated pieces of information for prospective postgraduate students when deciding where to study – for taught programmes – were:

  1. Tuition fees (53%)
  2. Classes you can take in your subject (48%)
  3. Career opportunities (48%)
  4. Entry requirements (41%)
  5. How you will be taught (39%)

We decided to group tuition fees, entry requirements and deadlines into a key information section at the top of the page. This is followed by course information which includes course highlights, modules and teaching format.

Our decision to include a section on funding was in response to a further question:

What one thing would make you more likely to choose St Andrews?

More financial support was by far the most popular answer (49%).

To test our design, we have also recently undertaken usability testing. The results were very positive, with time taken to complete tasks (find information) reduced by 70%, with a reduced number of clicks and generally positive feedback.

If you would like more information on our usability testing, or would be interested in being involved with this in the future, please contact us on

Similarly, if you have any feedback on the new style PGT pages, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

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