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Monday, August 18, 2014

Staff, faculty, and students evaluate ESUP’s web presence

Reaching new audiences

If you’re reading the ESUP blog, then you probably have some idea about the impact the upgrade will have on your work. But there are thousands in the University community who have a lot of catching up to do. As we approach April 2015* (when the upgraded systems plan to “Go Live”), ESUP’s Communication Team reached out to “unaware audiences” to figure out the best way to get them up-to-speed.

Usability Services

The Team leveraged the expertise of user experience analyst Nick Rosencrans to evaluate ESUP's online presence. As a member of IT Training and Usability Services, Nick discussed the basics of content strategy and facilitated an evaluation of the website and blog in the University's usability lab. By conducting usability tests with faculty, staff, and students who were mostly unaware of ESUP activities, we gained insight into how these members of the University community find information, how existing content resonates with them, and how they view the potential impact of the systems upgrade.

Photo of Santiago F.G. and Nick R. observe participants
Santiago Fernández-Giménez(bottom) and Nick Rosencrans(top)
observe participants from behind double-sided glass


Overall, evaluators were able to find information explaining how and why the University is updating its systems. Most users seemed to agree the content explains why the upgrade is a positive and necessary step, but the Team also heard feedback on areas needing attention:

  • Most users wanted to know what is changing, when, and how it will affect them. An abundance of information and insider jargon seemed to obscure the most important points that answered their queries.  
  • Evaluators did not anticipate much, if any, interruption to their daily work, despite language indicating systems will be down for several days during Go Live.  
  • Our audiences self identified with their role(s) as faculty, staff, or student (example: a staff member who is also taking classes) and sought information according to these roles, rather than how ESUP is organized as work streams or differentiated by the systems (Student, HRMS, Finance, etc.).  
  • Participants wanted to know the people behind ESUP. They wanted to understand where to direct their inquiries and have confidence that their concerns would be routed to the correct person.
Photo of Tricia C and Carrie M in the Usability Lab
Tricia Conway(left) and Carrie Meyer(right)
record observations in the Usability Lab

Looking forward

Time with Usability Services provided valuable direction for how to provide detailed information to the community. In the coming months, the Communications Team will adjust strategies and messages to address areas of confusion. To learn more about the upgrade, please contact esup@umn.edu.

*This article was updated on 02/04/2015 to reflect the most recent timing information.

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