University of Pennsylvania
Delivering a next generation student experience for UPenn
Most academic institutions are grappling with the problem of trying to deliver a consistent, high quality digital user experience for their biggest customer.
Today’s students spend a huge amount on their higher education and in consequence they have very high expectations - and very little patience.
Over the past twelve months, we’ve been working with the world-renowned University of Pennsylvania to address this challenge by helping them to design a best-in-class user experience for their Next Generation Student Systems (NGSS) program.
Far away from the shiny world of public-facing institutional websites lies the gnarly, neglected underbelly of administrative, faculty and student facing web applications.
Many of these systems are built on monolithic and often old software applications, which just can’t deliver the ease of use we’ve all begun to expect by default.
Replacing key enterprise applications such as a Student Information System or timetabling application is a tough ask, because they’re fundamental to the operation of a University. But users increasingly expect an experience which matches what they see and use every day and in the increasingly competitive world of higher education this isn’t something many institutions can afford to ignore.
And it isn’t just students who need to be considered. Faculty and Administrators depend on these same tools to support and educate students, and they have the same expectations - they’re typically last in line to be considered from a user needs perspective.
Designing a consistent experience
A key aim of Penn’s Next Generation Student Systems (NGSS) program is to achieve UX consistency across a huge range of different student- and staff-facing systems, ranging from student records through to financial aid.
We’re working with Penn to create a comprehensive design system that can be applied across all the new (and varied) applications which have been procured for what’s known as the ‘future state’. Our extensible design system will allow Penn to employ consistent UX patterns - ensuring that form fields look the same, data validation works predictably, and error messages and prompts are consistently formatted and appear in the same places from one application to another.
We want to help users achieve what they need to quickly and efficiently, cutting down the time spent shifting awkwardly between different systems, reducing support calls and - most importantly - making everyone feel happier.
This includes creating best practice guidelines, accessibility / Section 508 compliance, and designing UI patterns and components which can be applied across a huge range of applications, together with custom-built role-based ‘hubs’ providing users with task oriented landing pages which will help users get where they need to be as quickly as possible.
We’ll be talking further about the design system approach in the coming months.