UX Researcher, UX Designer
CoursePlan is a mobile app prototype made for UTD students that assists them in planning their semester schedules and advises them on course selections based on their prescribed educational plan.
CoursePlan won best app in the class as judged by a panel of UTD faculty and UX industry members.
Many students complain about the difficulties they face every semester just to sign up for classes. I once jokingly heard that, “If you are capable of navigating the University’s website to sign up for classes, then you were qualified enough to take those classes.”
The process of signing up every semester involves juggling 4 or more clunky disparate internal resources, a couple more external websites, checking back and forth between all of them and trying to keep ones sanity. The process is so convoluted that many students simply gave up trying to register for classes by themselves and would wait in long lines to meet with their major’s advisers every semester.
This left us with one question, “Why is there not an easier way to sign up for classes?”
In order to figure out what issues people were running into we went out into the university and talked with some real students. We interviewed students of all class levels and many different majors.
The interviewees were asked what difficulties they had with the sign up process, how they normally accomplished the task, things they liked about the current method, and things they disliked. From these questions we were able to establish what user needs were most often utilized.
We created a prioritization graph to easily see which of the student’s needs were most important. Since more of out students would be using the areas in red most of the time, these were the features we would be focusing on the most.
Prototyping and User Testing
Using Prototyping on Paper (POP) we made a simple prototype that prioritized the critical needs of our users.
We instructed users to accomplish tasks within the prototype and observed the students as they tried to accomplish these tasks. From these usability tests we were able to devise areas for improvement and see what did and did not make sense in the app. The results of our testing are shown below.
From our research and lo-fidelity prototype testing we had enough user insight to quickly fix our initial slip ups and create a detailed prototype of the real app using HTML and CSS.
The final app assists users in planning their semester schedules and advises them on course selections based on their prescribed educational plan.
The student may tailor their search with included professor’s ratings from RateMyProfessor.com, the students time/day preferences, and/or by classes found within specific major course disciplines.
If the student has any questions or concerns about their schedule, contacting advisers is made easy with contact information made readily available and accessible with one tap.
CoursePlan also provides access to useful resources that students access often such as the Bursars office and the campus map.
Students are also able to talk to other students through the forum to find information about classes, events on campus, or access the campus classified section.
Through user research, storyboarding, and iterating from a low fidelity paper prototype to a high fidelity interactive prototype we were able to successfully design the class management process into an all inclusive, more enjoyable, and useful user experience.
CoursePlan won best app in the class as judged by a panel of faculty and UX design industry members.