What is CollegiateLink?
CollegiateLink is one of the products that make up part of Campus Labs' offerings. All work was done while I was a member of the CollegiateLink team.
What was the challenge?
CollegiateLink has been on the web since 2004, with some changes that had kept it alive until 2014. In late 2014, I was assigned to the team to update the redesign and improve the user experience. The true challenge was updating an experience that caters to such a large amount of users with a lot of content... we're talking over 281 campuses and over 6 million users!
One of the most notable things we did to improve CollegiateLink was coming up with a new design that would withstand the evolving trends of the web in an industry where trends change from year to year. This new design also gave us a leg up on our main competition. With the redesign came responsiveness, so that the newly updated site could finally be totally responsive.
We improved core navigation that was previously not responsive, as well as confusing to users, added in features like documents, akin to Google Drive, and a global search -- complete with scoped results for the best experience possible.
One of the highlights of reworking the experience of CollegiateLink was completely revamping the "flyerboard," and event pages. The Flyerboard was a dated attempt at skeuomorphism, which lent itself to poor usability, and would end up empty if there were no upcoming events.
We updated this with a new approach, focusing on images and helping users make better design decisions by uploading impactful and organic photos to pull the students into their hosted event. The newly christened "Opportunity Board" is fully responsive, has delightful animations, and also includes Organizations, so that a student who might go to a school that might not have any events going on still has the opportunity to seek out Organizations that they may not currently be a part of.
It's all in the details
Event details pages used to exist in a "shell" of an organization, which was a very dull and administrative looking page and not responsive. New Events pages replaces a simple image as the entire "flyer", showcasing the event in full, with a cover photo being the main focal point, with info and RSVP Options next.
Another thing we added in was upcoming events hosted by the same organization, which helped to further interaction. We were inspired by CollegiateLink's mobile application, Corq, to continue to highlight "Perks" like Free Food, Swag, and Credit, and integrating Corq's Event themes so that a school that uses Corq can have a more seamless experience.
Organizations also got a facelift. We wanted to make sure the different perspectives differentiated between non-members, members, and administrators were notable. Orgs became much more visual. Data was showing students were uploading more photos than they were writing content, so we played up the focus on imagery.
Cover Photos became bigger, the Organization avatar came front and center, and we pulled upcoming events into Organizations, where they were previously overlooked.
Photos from the Gallery also came into the spotlight, and News Articles became more important just by enlarging the corresponding News Photo.
We love data
When we approached this redesign, we wanted to make suer our big ticket experiences, like Home Page Dashboard Areas, Organizations, and Events, were setting the user up for success.
We referenced top requests from Salesforce, analyzed top actions in Google Analytics, performed student observations at private, public, and community college campuses. We talked to students, tested them, and came up with the best results through work flows, wireframes and iteration. Style Tiles and Type research for legibility and readibility were combed through.
We tested in JAWS, NVDA, Wave, and then tested again. We even created a definitive sitemap for CollegiateLink for the first time in its 10 year history.