User Experience Analysis And Optimization For An Online Technical University
A well-known American online technical university relies heavily on its marketing website to generate leads. Website visitors are expected to fill up a simple 6-field form for getting more information or to start the admission process. The form suffered a serious drop-off issue in the early stages of its personal information fields despite the form fields being fewer and simpler. Data extracted from an analytics tool could not provide sufficient insights.
One of the leading North American Universities providing high-quality education by offering doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, diploma and certificate programs as both online and on-campus, enabling students to graduate and pursue rewarding career opportunities.”
Analytics data provides only aggregated quantitative reasoning which was not sufficient to unearth real problems faced by customers. In order to fully understand and resolve the hurdles faced by the end-user, we needed to rely on a tool which precisely showcases the customer behaviour and their pain points.
Some of the user experience tools available in the market offer an incredible feature called “Session Reply”. This feature allows us to see every action of the customer throughout the session. By watching a few session reply videos for a particular segment, we can zero in on the navigational issues faced by them. Some of the popular tools that offer this feature are SessionCam, Hotjar and ClickTale, among others. Using one such session reply tool – SessionCam, we managed to identify the root cause of the severe form abandonment problem.
Observations and Insights
Identifying the root cause
The Form abandonment issue was incidental only to a specific form, and to a particular group of audience. Since SessionCam can be integrated with Google Analytics, it is possible to filter out the relevant session recordings to locate the exact problem, without any hassle.
We therefore created a segment in GA to filter out the users who had abandoned the form. And the same segment was applied to SessionCam, to filter the session recordings. After observing a series of session recordings for this segment, a pattern was observed that typified those who abandoned the form. And we discovered that the issue was in the usability of the form.
The form had stringent and unclear validations behind input fields, because of which the users were unable to figure out the right way to enter information. This resulted in form validation errors and user abandonment after a few trials only.
Here are the detailed observations from the SessionCam recordings:
- Usage of periods and spaces in the Name field:
The form was designed in a format that only accepts text with no special characters and spaces. This caused users with long names to abandon the form.
The user tries to enter the Full Name and then realises that there is a separate Last Name field. And he immediately deletes the last name from the previous field, but forgets to delete the space in-between. This entry won’t go through the form validations and the user is clueless about what went wrong. Also, there was another check on the Last Name field where it doesn’t accept two words or more.
- Usage of hyphens between the phone numbers:
A natural tendency to input hyphens to distinguish country code and actual phone number was identified among the users who abandon the form. The form’s design was rejecting this user behavior resulting in submit failures.
The ideal way is to show the users an example of what format will be accepted. This education was missing.
- Non-acceptance of international ZIP codes:
The form configuration to accept only US ZIP codes was an anomaly. International students’ contribution to the university’s business was significant, hence the form’s reconfiguration to help them was required.
The observations from SessionCam were used to reconfigure the Request Information form and make it more user-friendly. Here are the specific recommendations provided in this case:
- Relax rules on the “Name” fields which are not critical
- Show examples of phone number and zip codes. And relax zip code field to accept international codes.
The idea of relaxing the form input rules, and improved form layout to assist users through an “input format message” for better intuitiveness was embraced.
The client observed that there is a 7% increase in Submit-to-Initiate ratio in the Request Information forms post the change deployment. This resulted in a 5% increase in quality leads.