Walden University is an online collegiate institution that provides higher education for career professionals, allowing them to effect positive social change. However, if prospective students cannot complete the application process, then enrollment is unattainable. Below you will see how this application was transformed, increasing application initiation by 10%.
Audience: Working Professionals
My Role: Art Director, Front-End Development and Digital Strategist
Due to the existing multi-step enrollment interface (student account creation) - which included a seven-step process to reach completion, a non-linear application, unclear error handling and extremely long load times - student application completion was floundering.
Among the many issues we faced were:
As we began the exploration phase of our online application redesign and re-architecture, we analyzed three areas:
Testing and optimization are key to any redesign. In our process, testing helped us determine a few important successes almost immediately. These included combining a multi-step account creation process into a one-step application initiation process. This, along with implementing a progress bar showing how many steps are required to complete the application, resulted in an immediate large increase in new applications initiated. As this test progressed, we have seen uplift consistently in application initiaton by 10% year over year. With significant improvements such as this, we were able to formulate a calculated approach to re-architecting the online application experience.
After optimizing the design, we are planning a phased rollout of the application beginning on April 23, 2018. However, we know that we can always improve the user experience. Once we gather data from the live environment, we will continually test new ideas and possibilities. Conversion rate optimization is never finished! We now have a framework from which to continually improve the applicant experience.
With the rollout of the new application experience, we are presenting the prospective student with a fully responsive experience that is user friendly and easy to navigate.
We moved away from a confusing, two-step process to a simple, clear one-step application initiation. The number of accounts created increased immediately!
As we analyzed user data and researched trends in complex form design, we saw one common thread: the fewer steps the better. We were able to combine what was once a seven-step process into a simpler four-step application. Couple this with a constant enrollment assistance presence throughout, and we present a recipe for successful application submission.
The previous error handling involved a generic message that appeared often out of the view window of the users screen. Our new process validates in real time, with clear error messages that are visible when the user clicks to proceeed to the next section.
Through research, analysis of user data, testing, and thorough understanding of our end user, we were able to effectively create a streamlined application experience for potential Walden University students. If you would like to view a working front-end version of the online application experience, please contact me. I cannot publicly share the designs until the application goes live the week of April 23, 2018.