Website developed and illustrated by Sanjna Sudan © 2019

Ashoka University

Content Management System + UX Design

https://www.ashoka.edu.in/

 

Year: 2015-17

WHO

Ashoka University is a pioneer in its focus on providing a liberal education at par with the best in the world, in India. The aim of the university is to help students become well-rounded individuals who can think critically about issues from multiple perspectives, communicate effectively and become leaders with a commitment to public service.

WHAT

At Ashoka University, I was deeply involved in designing the global brand strategy, social media strategy and ui/ux of the Ashoka University CMS along with my team lead, Mr. Ujjal Dey.

THE CHALLENGE

Liberal Arts University is something very new in India and it was quite challenging to explain digitally the integrated yet distinct coursework the programme posited.

Therefore, the UX of the content management system had to be designed in a way

  • that a prospective student was able to understand and go to any course's page with least number of clicks  to know what all she can choose to do at the school

  • that the backend was decentralised and easy to use by faculty and staff so that they were able to keep their webpages updated & their students & prospective students engaged. 

STEP1

PLANNING

Stakeholder Mapping

As the first step towards building this content management system, we created a stakeholder map- which included people who will

  1. look at the website

  2. the ones will operate its backend.

 

Ideas was to decentralise the  backend and make it easy and available to key people directly to edit their bit on the site. 

STEP2

RESEARCH

Organise Design Workshops

Once we had a clear idea about WHO will use the CMS, (in our case were head professors of departments and university admin) we organised design workshops with each team so that everyone could contribute towards making their needs from the website heard and we could try and fit them in the best way. 

STEP 3

EARLY PROTOTYPE

Once we had insights and inputs from stakeholders themselves, we moved towards creating the first prototype using flowcharts and Adobe XD. This helped us in translating our existing visual and textual content and sync it with what stakeholders needed and had asked for. 

 

We realized:

  • That in order to make liberal arts curriculum understandable on our website (and reduce the number of clicks for a prospective student to reach a course page) we needed to have a static menu all through the site that gave her a few lines about every programme, just by hovering through them

  • (see images below) this happened once we studied our Google Analytics and queries Ashoka's outreach team received (most were about courses). 

 

STEP 4

ITERATION & EVALUTATION

 

 

We sent our first set of mockups via Adobe XD to the teams and professors themselves, who in turn gave us more relevant content and feedback as per the new design. They could visually see the missing blocks themselves and help us fill in.

Once this was done, we sent the mockup to our developers who had already started working on the backend.  

 

 

STEP 5

LAUNCHING & MONITORING

 

 

I personally found the launch and the monitoring phase the hardest.

 

We conducted and organised usability testing across the university and constantly came up with bugs and more suggestions, which at times could not be incorporated, but we tried our best!  

Most challenging was to shift people's acceptance towards the new decentralised backend! Not everyone wanted to do it/adjust to the new systems. 

 

 

CONCLUSION

In itself, it was my first, first-hand experience with UX at such a large scale. Through this activity we were finally able to create:

  • more than 15 microsites for university centres and departments, and train them to be able to work with it themselves.

  • a blog site, decentralise its backend and also have a sustainable photograph library in the backend

  • a digitally cohesive brand identity of Ashoka, where everyone was represented and had autonomy over their own content.

 

Learning

  • I learned the most about the process of designing during this time. From being a good listener, researcher, and an empathetic person and to be able to use this information to tangibly make usable products- all this was a very important part of my journey as an evolving UX designer
  • I learned the importance of iterations and taking feedback and never to fear them!