Empowering Engagement for Digital Worlds Alumni Network

Empowering Engagement for Digital Worlds Alumni Network

A UX case study about creating University of Florida-Digital Worlds’ alumni portal

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Overview

I worked as a product designer at the University of Florida-Digital Worlds for a period of 12 weeks from December 2022 to February 2023. I was responsible for designing a website app that would facilitate alumni-student engagement. This involved going through 3 rounds of wireframing, prototyping, and testing. I delivered the mockup and worked collaboratively with the department director, project manager, senior designers, and researchers on this project, generating over 5,000 user interests.

Timeline

Dec 2022 - Feb 2023 (3 months contract)

My Role

UX/UI Designer

Collaboration

Executive Director James Oliverio, 1 UX manager, 1 UX researcher

Outcome

Increased access to alumni platform and event attendance

The Client

  • Who: The University of Florida's Digital Worlds (DW) program offers students exploration of creative and machine-based industries such as video game, animation, UX design, and digital arts.

  • Background: They offered many opportunities for students' networking and career growth, but the pandemic disrupted connections in 2020.

  • Why this project: I was hired to increase alumni engagement so DW can increase their event attendance and build a long term self-sustaining community.

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Business Goals

Design a centralized platform where all alumni and students could interact to share industry experience and increase alumni engagement.

Stakeholders want to focus on industry experiences and knowledge sharing and avoid negative communication such as always ask for donation/money.

Problem

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Alumni records are not up to date and the alumni engagement with current students is low.

Challenge

The university doesn’t have a digital infrastructure to engage both the alumni and current students.

Research Reference

I referred to the prior UX researcher report based on surveys and interviews from the current students. After emphasizing and analyzing the challenges that the students and alumni were facing, I found some interesting UX insights and opportunities.

Pain points from students:

Students have no efficient and self-sustaining platform to connect with alumni.

  • Currently, many student events are only in person. It limits the number of people who might be interested from attending.
  • Students lacked of specialized learning for their career opportunities.

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Current website-Digital Worlds Institute

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SWOT Analysis of 6 alumni interviews

Pain points from alumni:

They want recognition for their unique skills, but are turned off by the current financially-focused outreach.

  • Some alumni weren’t too thrilled with alumni opportunities. There was zero contact until recently.
  • They also can’t travel of miles for these reunions.

The insights opened some UX opportunities for my final design:

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See full research Report.pdf73952.4KB

Proposals for future improvements

How might we…

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Success Metrics and Strategies

Based on users’ needs and business requirements, I came up with the the following 4 success metrics and strategies to guide my design:

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Success Metrics:

The percentage of users who feel in control of the information they receive can be measured through user surveys or feedback forms.

Strategies:

Users can opt-in and out features such as muting, blocking , or unfollowing specific sources.

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Success Metrics:

This metric measures user satisfaction with the portal's design, ease of use, functionality, and accessibility through surveys or questionnaires.

Strategies:

The score can be calculated by using 1 1 to 5 scale. A high score indicates user satisfaction and ease of use.

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Success Metrics:

The net financial impact of the portal's implementation can be calculated by subtracting its development, maintenance, and support costs from the total financial benefits.

Strategies:

By investing in alumni network, we can increase donations from our supporters, while improving engagement with our alumni network. This, in turn, will allow us to reduce our operational expenses and maximize the impact of every dollar we raise - ultimately demonstrating a clear return on investment.

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Success Metrics:

The goal of improving alumni engagement can be measured by alumni event attendance, social media engagement, donations, survey feedback, mentoring participation, alumni network growth.

Strategies:

I focused on improving both Alumni and students’ job opportunities, mentorship, networking, and staying informed about their field's latest updates through a alumni portal.

However,

There was a big open question…should I couple alumni portal with external links?

  • I knew that I wanted to give customers control. Do I build a new mechanism-an alumni portal with external links? Or do I build off the existing DASA?
  • YES! After discussing with my manager and other designers, we decided to couple alumni portal with external links because it will maximize the efficiency of user navigation between external sites.

Design Explorations

With the clear design goal and metrics in mind, I started different ideations of design and tested 3 of them to finalize my final solution.

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Chosen Design: A Combination of Design Concept 2 & 3

The design concept 2 gives users a clear guidance about what to expect for each purpose of connection. Each CTA directs users to sign up for the portal and end up with Design concept 3-A personalized platform that alumni can network with filtered profiles and other events.

Further inspiration from competitor analysis:

  • The competitors’ Alumni Hubs feature profile directory and online meeting request for mentoring, which will help DWI’s alumni engagement.

  • I added the profile recommendations and meeting schedule to my design to help student and alumni efficiently and effectively find the one to connect and communicate.

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Design Flows

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Iteration

I tested users with my high fidelity prototypes. The goal is to see how they will engage with the portal, if they can find the profiles that they are interested in and start communicating with the alumni through the templates or meeting schedule. Also, I want to clear user frictions happened during the usability tests and use testing findings to iterate my final design.

User testing:

3 Usability Tests

3 objectives

3 User Tasks

I conducted 3 usability test interviews with target audiences: 3 users who graduated from digital worlds in the past 10 years.

  • Assessing users’ comprehension of the alumni portal’s features.
  • Testing users’ ability to use the desired service.
  • Understanding users’ decision making process when choosing profiles.

  • I had users to browse the homepage of my prototype.
  • Find the profile cards that they were interested in.
  • Request a meeting from the alumni

Testing finding #1

Embrace predictability

No one clicks on the arrow to view more recommendation profiles, so I added partial of the profile card next to the original one to remind users there is more to view and click.

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  • Missing context for the homepage
  • Users were confused about the meaning of the arrow on the profile card and therefore did not click on it to view more recommendations.
  • The navigation bar was too big and distracted users’ attention.
  • Added context to the navigation and profile cards in the welcome box.
  • To address this issue, I added one more profile next to the arrow to indicate that there were additional profiles available for viewing.
  • Reduced the size of icons and fonts in the navigation.

Testing finding #2

Keep it simple, consistent, and manageable

Users feel overwhelmed about the information, so I simplified the structure of the message page by cutting the unnecessary side bar and add the most important information-video request confirmation.

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  • Cluttered submenus
  • Back button is hidden
  • Zoom appointments were hidden from the message page.

  • Removed the sidebar to make it easy to navigate
  • Made back button consistent
  • Added a summary of video call confirmation with clear hierarchy.

Final Solution

Use technology to stay connected with a centralized platform to keep alumni informed about community activities to reconnect and build relationships.

Create a profile match

  • After going through a filtered sign-up process, users will see recommendation profiles that are similar to each other.
  • To find alumni in areas of interest, users can choose filters manually.

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Filter the right profiles with different categories

  • The green dots help users know who is online.
  • Each profile has alumni’s graduation year, location and workplace to help other alumni to connect based on their interests.

Create a meeting request

  • Users can send messages that include meeting details such as available sessions, meeting software, duration, and time slots.

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Final Impact

I am proud to report that our website is currently under development and has already garnered significant interest, with over 5,000 users expressing their excitement for its launch.

✅ 80%

of users successfully messaged a member with given templates.

✅ 90%

of users successfully booked a meeting

✅ 100%

of users found the task completion very easy and time efficient

Learning

"Through the iterative design process, I have learned the importance of considering both user needs and business requirements when testing solutions. Additionally, clear and concise communication among team members, stakeholders, and users is crucial to ensure alignment and to design a solution that meets the needs of all parties involved.”

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