Where User Experience and Higher Education Intersect

In Brief:

  • How students feel when interacting with your product or service impacts their impression of your institution.

  • Create seamless product experiences to match student’s expectations.

  • Your institution can improve user experience by focusing on customer service, product user interfaces, and advertising.

Blog Post

To design and utilize products that appeal to your ideal audience, it’s important to understand how your users – in this case, students and families – will consume and use your product(s). The user experience can be summed up by how your user feels interacting with a product or service. Ultimately, the user experience plays an integral role in services and products utilized by all higher education institutions. Highlighted below are ways institutions can benefit from learning more and studying user’s experiences.

Students expect to interact with products seamlessly and efficiently.

By creating a deeper, foundational knowledge about user experience, institutions can then determine when, where, and how technology is utilized by their users and in turn, design to help users achieve their goals. Every interaction with your college or university, whether through your website or a third-party vendor application, must fit seamlessly within the flow of a student’s life.

Understanding the student’s “mental model” is also key when designing a product. A mental model is a user’s internalization of external reality that helps describe user behavior and actions within a context.

There are always opportunities to enhance your institution's user experience.

Your team and the vendors you choose to partner with should add rather than detract from the user’s online experiences. Every touchpoint with your brand builds and speaks to who you are as an institution, which leads to valuable interactions and an outstanding presence in the industry. These three areas can vastly enhance your user’s experience:

  • Customer service – Leverage every moment to cater to the needs of your students and their families. Understand and meet all of their varying needs through both in-house and third-party vendor applications.
  • Product user interfaces – Exceed your users’ expectations by understanding that the mobile moments of tomorrow will look different than the ones you experience today. Capitalize on this by anticipating and delivering what your users need (i.e., by enabling responsive design).
  • Advertising – Curate your institution’s brand. Put your institution in front of as many prospective and current students and alumni as possible. One way to do this is by leveraging social media to reach students.

Understand how mobility, security and usability play an important role in the success of a product or service.

A mobile moment is a point in time when a user pulls out a mobile device with the purpose of getting information or completing a task immediately in that moment. Institutions need to understand that a student’s mobile moment will be different than a family member’s but relevant content must be delivered and speak specifically to each audience.

Users don’t care about the complexity of the technology, even when engaging in tasks they recognize should be secure. Users expect things to work and for those things to work instantly. Students should be able to access information in the most transparent and secure manner. The system or operation should be simple to understand and interact with.

Ultimately, by understanding and studying users’ experiences, institutions will be able to enhance and make alterations that improve the overall student experience with products and services from the start.

Author: Nelnet Campus Commerce

View all posts by Nelnet Campus Commerce