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Interview with └ngels Novoa, director of Campus Services, and Ricard Mateu, director of Projects and Applications

"Thanks to the user tests, we found more things than we'd detected by ourselves"

28   July   2017

"About 95% of the students had asked us for a personal space with their things and now they will be able to access it"

The great day is drawing closer. The new Virtual Campus will be unveiled on 6 September. To find out more about all the changes we will see when we come back from holiday, we have spoken with two of its leading architects: └ngels Novoa, director of Campus Services, and Ricard Mateu, director of Projects and Applications.

By Marian Antˇn

Why was it necessary to change the Virtual Campus now?

└ngels: Last October, the UOC's new brand with its logo had been presented and applied on a first batch of digital sections. The intention was to roll it out progressively to other sections.

The Campus is a complex space and it was decided to do it afterwards. So, we had this “trigger”, which was to apply the new brand, but, taking advantage of the fact that it involved changing a lot of content, we wanted to add other objectives to improve it. We had also seen things that had to be changed.

Such as making it more accessible from any device.

Ricard: Yes, one aspect was that we wanted to make the Campus fully responsive. This is one of the project's main benefits. There were parts, such as the classroom and the Campus contents, that had already been designed responsively, but other key, transversal parts, because they are seen when the student browses, such as the home page and the header, were still not responsive. This meant that users did not have the sensation that the experience was positive. These parts have been changed and they now offer a very broad multi-device experience.

What other areas had been detected for improvement?

└ngels: We needed to improve our information architecture on the Campus. Furthermore, we wanted to unify the user's experience with the new applied brand in the Campus section as well. Lastly, we had the home page: we had realized that it had become a little “antiquated”.

Ricard: With more than ten years of life, our home page needed a technological makeover. The first phase of this transformation is what we will all see after 6 September.

How were these “improvable” aspects detected?

└ngels: As in any improvement project, we have applied user-centred design methodologies. Even though there are things that we already knew ourselves didn't work properly or could be improved, to get the results we always try them out with users, using different methodologies: user tests, focus groups, qualitative surveys, etc. They always tell us more things than what we have detected by ourselves. This way we can guarantee the results work for end users.

For example, looking at the Campus's information architecture, we saw that the Secretary’s Office had become a “catch-all” place that didn’t work well for students.

 

The users were already telling us this, with clear examples: they didn't want the programmes of studies in the Secretary’s Office and thought that they should be somewhere else. So we have created a new information structure that includes all these suggestions and, what is more, we have already tested them with students.

 

You have already said that a very visible part of the changes will be the new content architecture. What else would you highlight about this new organization?

└ngels: I would highlight that finding any tool or information will be much simpler and much more accessible. About 95% of the students had asked us for a personal space with their things (their marks, their payments, etc.) and now they will be able to access it. The Secretary’s Office too has changed and it's no longer a “catch-all”. With the new Campus, we have made a section for procedures and we have also made everything related to the classrooms more visible.

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