PelotonU is an Austin based NGO that prepares working adults to complete their college degree with a combination of scholarship, mentorship, and placement at an accredited online university. Currently, the three-year old NGO is recruiting all of their students through word of mouth and referrals. They want to raise their online application’s conversion rate (currently 9%) and widen their applicant pool. I worked in a team of 3 UX designers and copywriters to redesign PelotonU’s website’s style and information architecture. Time frame: 3 weeks.
NOTE: This a group project of three designers – Bo Fahs, Coy Jennings, and myself. Though we each provided quality assurance, I was the primary contributor for the bolded and flagged deliverables below.
We began our process with a robust, one-week discovery phase, which included multiple sessions of contextual inquiry. We observed how the small staff communicated with students throughout the application process, and spoke with students who were considering the program. Because PelotonU is a relatively unique education model, I was responsible for a comparative and competitive audit to better understand PelotonU’s market. The audit included website heuristics, ease of application, and voice and tone. Although Peloton saw itself as a practical, alternative option, the audit revealed it actually fit into the more aspirational, traditional mental model of a four-year college degree.
- User Interviews with current students, Peloton staff, and potential employers from Austin area
- Task Analysis of current website and online application
- Competitive Analysis
- Synthesis of research on nontraditional education avenues
- Wireframe analysis of current website
Personas and journey mapping
I was responsible for researching and creating our secondary persona, who was Peloton’s greatest advocate and long term sustainer. This user was slightly different from the seasoned grant reader that the current website was geared toward. However, as a significant referral source and potential donor, this secondary persona was important to our redesign.
- Create primary and secondary personas
- User flow mapping
- Customer journey mapping
Initial user research and customer journey mapping showed PelotonU’s conversion problem was tied to a lack of a cohesive content strategy. User pain points largely included unclarity around Peloton’s value proposition, and whether the program was a scholarship or a university itself. Given PelotonU is an innovative, but unfamiliar model for getting a college degree, prospective students needed a clearer explanation of the value proposition from all communication channels – website, press, and social – in order to see credibility and apply.
We agreed on a two pronged approach to build a content strategy and streamline communications to widen the applicant pool.
- Features Card Sorting
- Redraw sitemap
Currently, in addition seeing a lack of credibility, users also felt anxiety around applying to something without knowing their commitment level. Thus we also wanted to give equal weight to Request Information Call to Actions.
Prototyping and User Testing
We prototyped a mobile and desktop site with a homepage featuring a streamlined “How it works” visual and a pared down form flow. Research revealed that most users had Android phones and used phone browser’s to do initial research. We refocused the website on the primary user, the potential student, whereas it had been loosely targeted to potential donors.
- Initial Wireframes
- Test prototype with users
- Finalize wireframes
- Annotate wireframes for developers
Tone and Style Guide
- Develop style and tone guide for PelotonU staff
We realized the biggest obstacle for students applying was a lack of clarity in what exactly a student is committing to when she or he signs up. PelotonU’s web redesign and style guide work in concert to reduce potential students’ application anxiety and confusion. The redesigned site is geared to a primary persona of future PelotonU student with avenues for a secondary persona – a local employer – to get valuable information and support. We learned to work with the resource constraints of the current organization. Given PelotonU is a young NGO relying on pro-bono work, we realized we could best help them by creating wireframes that are easily configured in their current WordPress theme.