At the beginning of the project, a campus wide survey was held with responses from 1,730 students 332 faculty/staff. In addition, the Web Team held 4 focus groups with prospective students, and 7 usability tests with current students. After a wireframe was developed, another 12 usability tests were held with prospective students and 1 focus group was held with current students. After designs were completed another set of tests were conducted with prospective students to settle upon features.
Prospective students struggled to find information about the programs and offerings at Mt. San Antonio College. It was difficult for them to make an informed decision about whether our college would meet their academic and career needs. They could not find a list of classes they needed and then register for them. They found the website professional and attractive, but boring. They wanted a site that “popped.” They imagined something that looked “bolder,” “more fun,” and “more colorful.” They wanted a site that showcased the student experience so they could imagine themselves at the campus, saying “If I’m going to school there, it’ll be my life. I need to know I’ll like it there and that I’ll fit in.” They also wanted to be able to see more of the campus and its facilities so they didn’t have to get a campus tour to find out if the facilities were acceptable and atmosphere welcoming. Time and again, they asked for photos, photos and more photos.
In the survey, current students were happy with the website and did not want the college to make any changes, noting they knew where everything was located and did not want to relearn a new website. However, in usability testing, current students could not find program information and specific course information for specific programs outside of their major. They were confused that each department put information in different places, saying “My department has the information right here. I don’t know why it’s not here.” In addition, some current students had trouble finding the schedule of classes. They said they would stop by offices for help with registering.
In survey comments, faculty and staff expressed frustration with finding the information that they needed to conduct their work. They said the information was put in places they could not find. In fact, they had lower levels of satisfaction with the website compared with students with only 45% of faculty agreeing they could easily find information online compared to 77% of students. They also expressed a need for help with developing content.