The University of Southampton
Digital Team Blog

University: Challenged

Over the last few weeks we’ve been pulling together all our evidence and body of work in preparation to get started on OneWeb.

We used much of the work from the discovery phase to understand and map out the ‘Become an Undergraduate student’ journey to enable our prospective students to get what they need out of our digital products and services.

Creating a set of core user needs

We have been working in collaboration with many stakeholders across the University on insights and findings. We used a variety of data sources to consolidate all the user needs. These included information from external organisations that hold sector reports. We also used data from our university. These came from departments such as Institutional Research, Marketing, International Office, UK Outreach and Student Recruitment, Admissions, Student Services, as well as our own team.

An example of prospective students behavioural flow 

So, what is a challenge session’s goal?

Can I offer some assumptions? Credit: tumblr

The overall goal of this session was to validate and agree to our understanding of what our prospective students need in regard to information before they even think that they might want to come to any university. We wanted our stakeholders to tell us if this information is incorrect, and if so – why.

What we did

We shared our information in advance. There was so much of it, so we only sent key information.

On the day, we enlarged the user journeys to a set of big posters and hung them on the wall. These illustrated our understanding, based on the data, of what we feel are the needs of prospective students.

Time to show and tell – thanks Katrina

We wanted to understand what our users go through when they are considering their education, what is their consideration process, what sort of information they look for, and identify typical actions. This allows us to paint a picture of characterising patterns of behaviour, and identify their problems and expectations.


To draw together all our findings into a simple, digestible way is always a challenge. This requires a lot of sketching, post-it notes and loads of coffee!

We need to define and focus on the information we know is important. The mismatch between organisational needs and users’ expectations is a perfect start to our user journey and the service design challenge. We can start to visualise the current service and identify ways to connect the business and user needs. For example, some users are searching for our products and services using terminology that is inconsistent with how we internally refer to things. We can see at the moment in how we name some degree courses. We are not our users, so we should stop using a subjective language.

Challenge session outcome

There are many different opinions, but what we wanted to get out of the day is an agreement of what the user needs for prospective students are (whether international or domestic). Now that we have the blueprint with some minor iterations we can actually start prototyping content and begin to plan out how we work with the University.

Having validated user needs will also help us create a service map that illustrates interaction between university staff and users showing online and offline activities as part of the process. Making insights visual allows everyone in our university to be part of the end-to-end process. It offers an opportunity to step out of the single silo focus of departments and raise questions like “why do we do it that way?” or “how does this benefit the end user, staff and our university?”.

The user journey mapping is a way to collaborate on the way forward. It should be used to ignite discussions, questions and prioritise opportunities.

Our findings and tools will be used continuously in the upcoming weeks. It’s exciting to reflect back as so much is happening every week, and see how much we have learned about our prospective students’ world.

We’re looking forward to sharing some more with you in the coming weeks!

 Source: Wessex Scene 

Until the next challenge session, it’s goodbye from the OneWeb team. Thanks for reading.

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