Case Study: Recommended Sequence

Client: Higher Education Tech Startup
Role: Strategy, Lead UX + UI Design
Date: 2020 – 2021
Tags: #product-design, #saas, #ui, #ux, #visual-design

One of the key tasks when building a program in higher education is also creating recommended sequences of courses for students to follow (think: full time path, part time path, concentrations, etc.).

This task at hand here was to redesign the existing Recommended Sequence product, with emphasis on heightened UX to match the new and improved Program Builder experience.

Recommended Sequence User Validation Session

Research

One of the most enjoyable things about working on this project was the countless opportunities for user research, testing and validation. We were lucky enough to have a panel of clients who were willing to work closely with us during this process in order to define product requirements and ensure that we were right on track.

We conducted a number of qualitative user validation sessions including one session before work commenced, and two sessions during the design phase. These were typically hour-long show-and-tell sessions with faculty members and data stewards from our partner institutions. I really believe these sessions can be attributed to the success of the product.

Ideation

After our first user validation session to flesh out gaps and gather additional information about pain points and product requirements, our UX team of two got together to immediately begin brainstorming.

Though low-fidelity, we got some ideas on paper (or glass) to help flesh out a high-level view of what we thought the product could look like. After hashing out a few questions and verifying our assumptions with the Product team, we split ways and began prototyping.

Recommended Sequence Brainstorm Session

Prototyping

The prototyping phase of this product lifecycle was definitely the longest, but has yielded great results. As mentioned above, we were also able to do continuous user validation during this phase which boosted the product up. We received great feedback from our panel, but were also able to gather a couple of requirements that had not previously been identified (which was great!).

As you can see from the slideshow of prototype evolution, we explored the visual execution of this product extensively. While inherently highly complex as is, we also continued to add features and build up the complexity of the interface while working to maintain simplicity and clarity.

While the Recommended Sequence and Program Builder tools inherently work together, they are two distinctly different but related processes. The Program Builder is reserved for creating the rules and conditions around courses within a program, while the Recommended Sequence is all about the order in which a student takes those courses. For that reason, the respective UIs are related through design continuity, but are also distinctly different to represent their disparate processes.

Result

The Recommended Sequence pulls courses used to build the program in the previous step of the workflow (Program Builder), along with related rules and conditions, and adds them to the bank on the left side of the screen for use in the sequence.

Each object in the left panel represents a rule group, and can be dragged and dropped as many times as the user desires into the term cards in the right panel. Once placed into a term, each line item represents a single course and can be toggled open to select the explicit course from the rule group built in the program builder.

Check out the full design on Figma, here!

(Use arrow keys or navigation at bottom of screen to move between screens)

This product is still in development and will be updated here as progress is made.


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