How to design the best digital college experience
Nowadays, the college experience is tied to the digital world. Let's explore ways to build a virtual campus that improve the learning journey.
I'm going to start with a personal tragicomedy called enrollment day. Yeah, that day when you are all full of beans waiting for the campus to let you enroll in your classes for next semester. Everything seems to be going well, too well, suspiciously well. I open the tab, submit my user, and see my list of options. It isn’t an easy task; there are times when adjusting my schedule feels like playing Tetris, but I find it (that perfect class at the ideal time), and when I'm going to make the final click, the university website crashes, and it is just pure chaos. If you hear me shouting at my poor and innocent computer, I don’t bear accountability for my actions. Hours later, the university is very sorry to inform the students that the campus collapsed due to the number of users enrolling. Just great!
This experience has a lot of sequels called: “Forgotten password”, “The wrong pdf”, “How can I go back to the main page?” (also known as "The maze"), and other unforgettable titles. Due to these little nightmares that brought me here today, I started drafting my ideal virtual campus: a utopia made both for students and teachers. Ok, I’m exaggerating but close enough. In any case, I want to share my dream with you and find ways to bring some of it to reality.
There’s room for everyone
Not breaking news, but universities have to deal with massive amounts of people: students, students-to-be, teachers, administrators, and other virtual passers-by, including the always present relatives. That is why my utopian campus can handle this digital crowd perfectly, because it's scalable, which in plain English means enrolling day is not a problem anymore. Servers expand on-demand with the number of users online.
Experience is the best teacher
It's a virtual campus, not an online riddle. Navigating should come as natural as breathing, so we should seek a well-displayed and complete site. The terms "user experience" and “user interface” are in vogue right now, and for a good reason. Students, tutors, and administrators have enough on their plates to be digitally lost in action while looking for a pdf. My utopian design is user-friendly and time-saving.
A dot on the map
My utopian website is integrated with Google Maps, so users can easily find the physical campus. Is this important? Yes! Just by adding this, you will be making your newcomers' and guests' lives more comfortable. On top of that, having your location online can help your marketing efforts—you need to be in the public eye to attract more students!
Get out of the bureaucratic hell
Do you need to switch some classes? Are you looking for your school's building? Are you trying to locate a teacher? There are times when I feel that I have to sell my soul to speak with the right person, and we are all in the same school! My perfect campus builds bridges between departments, students, and other involved professionals. It gets you out of the bureaucratic hell and creates a digital place with discussion forums and direct inboxes.
There’s no time to lose
Looking at a blank page is dreadful and irritating, so a website’s loading speed needs to be as quick as a flash. My utopian campus has a solid CMS (Content Management System) that can handle nowadays' eagerness to run.
A single app can change your lifestyle. And to keep on dreaming, there are some incredible apps that clear the way for students and teachers. Do you need some ideas? You can offer an app to book a seat in the university's transport service, save a spot in the parking lot, or keep yourself posted with the latest news on campus.
An important point of view
Most of us use our smartphones for everything. There is nothing more off-putting than a website that isn't responsive. For this reason, our utopian campus can adjust to any screen or any device. The more flexible, the more people will stick around the site.
Just take my money!
Paying for an extra course or your tuition shouldn't be a problem. Still, usually, these transactions come along with some technical issues. What should the perfect campus do? Accept the money without second thoughts. In other words, I aim to have a streamlined and trustworthy payment channel where I would feel confident enough to give my credit card number.
Is this even possible? A down-to-earth solution
The utopian campus is impossible. It's a harsh truth, I know. I’m like an architect showing you a blueprint and saying that the model is out of reach. Despite that, we can look for a synthesis, a realistic midpoint to enhance college life.
Before anything else, remember that each project has a different set of needs and qualities, so focusing on them is a smart first move. The next step is to find those barriers that are blocking your users. Does your website take ages to load? Is the design overly complicated and confusing? Are there broken pages? Making questions is the right path to tackling problems.
What's more, always ask students, teachers, and everyone involved! In the same way as I shared my experience during enrollment day, real users can give valuable insight and a starting point to build.
At Awkbit, we are always trying to find those pain points to work on a solution. The utopian campus may exist beyond reality, but we can help you build a unique and customized digital experience that is also substantial. What are you waiting for? Would you like to take your college to the web?