I start any project by doing research or discovery. During research, I do my best to find out whatever information I can to back my work up. For this case study, I had to experience the platform myself to determine if there was anything “wrong” or can be improved.
Depending on the scale & nature of the project, I would do a variety of methodologies but in the meanttime, I did only these:
- User experience audit
- Competitive analysis
- User behavior research
When conducting a user experience audit, there are a couple of things that should be considered like performance, accessibility, traffic, and heuristics among others but all I did for this case study was to look at the design and strategy plus some review on the usability.
A quick glance at the home page above the fold can tell us what the overall experience is depending on whether a user is logged in or not. For users who aren’t logged in, the main call-to-action is to either sign up or to search for a course. From these observation, I can speculate that:
- The content above the fold at the home page with no account logged in aims to let new users consider signing up for the platform.
- The search call-to-action lets users know that there’s a plethora of lessons available on the platform.
- After logging in, I was shown the top courses above the fold and a section of recommended courses based on what I’ve searched for or enrolled on. Since I already have an account, all the page needs to make me consider is to enroll on more courses.
So far, the front page also (almost always) offers discounts for certain courses so this means that they’re really taking their marketing game seriously. In terms of the overall layout of the Home Page, its design & layout is enough to showcase the top courses and top categories of the platform.
Navigating through categories is made accessible by having the Category menu on the header navigation. Within the menu, I can either look for a general category or a specific category. I’m not sure how they sorted out the information architecture out but I think that it was helpful granularly splitting general & specific categories.
Further browsing through the site for courses, I noticed that there are small differences when I’m searching for a course and/or topic that I want to enroll on compared to a just doing a general search. The experience is split into browsing and searching.
When browsing for a course, a user can start from the Category menu which goes to the Category page. You can further browse and filter down to specific categories and popular topics. Another layer of filtering happens when you reach the list of courses of the category/topic you’ve chosen as it shows you the All Filters function.
In terms of searching for courses, the experience differs from browsing as it shows you the All Filters function and a mix of topics and categories on the side. You can narrow down your results by choosing keywords/tags on the within the filter carousel.
Either you’re browsing or searching for a course, the objective of the experience is to narrow down your results to a specific course that you want to enroll on.
After finding the course you want to enroll on, the next thing to do is to validate if the course is worth taking or not. Throughout the pages, here are some of the recurring information for users to see when they’re browsing for courses.
- Course Title
- Short course description
- Star ratings and no. of ratings
- Cover photo/video
Apart from the cover photo/video, the most emphasized info shown to users are the price, the star ratings, and the number of people who’ve rated.
A helpful function on the platform is the tooltip. It appears whenever you hover to a course card. Although this is only available on desktop versions and only on certain pages, it helps users know what to expect when they get into the course. The tooltip also has a Add to Cart button and Favorite button to make it more accessible for users to choose as well.
Personally, I don’t mind reading all of the information in the Course Description especially if it’s a course that I want to enroll to. It depends on person to person though but I believe that the information listed above are enough to let the users know that the course is worth taking.
One part that I want to note is how cramped some of the text is; the typography could use some white space but all in all, it’s still legible & readable.
A quick comparison of the platforms in the online education ecosystem gives us an idea how similar they are but differ in their approaches on pricing, content, and call-to-action. One advantage that I could see that Udemy does compared to the other platforms is the “pay-per-course” model. It’s helpful for those learners who are busy but want to distribute their learning in extended sessions.
Doing a competitive analysis gives us an opportunity see what strategies our competition are applying and maybe take it a step further when we’re designing pages for the platform.
Considering the mental model of an online learner is important when designing for a platform like this. A question that comes into mind is “How do learners choose a course and consider subscribing to lessons on an online education platform?” This is assuming that those learners are already aware of platforms already; making them aware if such platforms exist is another thing.
Knowing their behaviour can determine how the content has , lay out calls-to-actions, and strategize flows to ease them through the browsing & purchasing process. I would’ve done some interviews to validate my assumptions on how they would choose a course once they land on a certain page. This is where contextual inquiries and supporting documents come into play.
I’d like to cite a paper written by NYA Adzobu that talks about usability of online education platforms set in developing countries.
Defining a Persona
It’s always helpful if there are user personas defined for me to reference whenever I’m designing something; this helps me constantly reevaluate my designs while considering their points of view.
Ideally, I would define at least three(3) personas to represent the target market of the platform but in this case, the user persona that I defined was from the perspective of a New Udemy.com User.