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Case Study: Advising Records Redesign

UX Research & Design for Indiana University

AdRx Then vs. Now.

AdRx began as a simple application that had one purpose: to provide a place where contact notes could be saved so advisors could document appointments with students.

The old AdRx

The AdRx application began as a place for advisors to save and access contact notes to document appointments with students. At that time, advisors had to access several different data systems in order to obtain necessary student and academic information to prepare for appointments. As AdRx evolved and more features and functionality were added, it was clear that it had transformed into an advising portal and had become much more complex than intended. As a result, many advisors were not utilizing the features because they were difficult to find or use.

The new AdRx

In anticipation of a major back-end system upgrade, we took advantage of an opportunity to re-architect the AdRx application from the ground up using extensive user research and community feedback to identify pain points, desired functionality, and workflow optimizations. At the same time, members of the Indiana University UX community had released the first version of the Rivet Design System, and we were able to redesign the entire application using Rivet components which allowed our teams more time to focus on the user needs and accessibility improvements.

Business goals

  • Retire 3rd party applications
  • Migrate all of AdRx application off of old Java framework
  • Integrate AdRx with other IU systems

UX goals

  • Identify pain points with existing AdRx to improve UX
  • Redesign information architecture to match users' mental model
  • Identify features that will streamline advising workflows
  • Identify ways to automate caseload notifications that will alert advisors when students need attention or help
  • Improve communication pathways with advisors and students so students feel more connected and aware of their academic progress
  • Redesign components with new IU Design System

My role

UX Research, UX Design, Prototyping

Tools used

Loop11, Optimal Workshop, Axure, Figma

My Design Process.

When time allows, I typically follow a Human Centered Design Process. When working with agile development teams, my process looks more like a hybrid of HCD and Lean UX.

In the case of this AdRx redesign, my process looked very close to this:

The discovery phase.

During our exploratory phase, we conducted approximately 25 contextual interviews with advisors across all of IU regional campuses, observing them in their environments while advising students. We collected an enormous amount of notes and organized those notes using an application called Realtime Board to organize the information into meaningful buckets.

The outcome of this produced User Profiles and User Journey Maps for two personas identified:

Exploratory Advising Profile
Degree/Program Advising Profile
Exploratory User Advising Map
Degree/Program Advising Journey Map

Ideate, Test, & Create.

Information Architecture & Card Sorting

We tackled the information architecture first, and in order to understand how advisors mentally organize the information in AdRx, we decided to conduct a card sorting exercise using a tool called Optimal Workshop.

This was a remote unmoderated study that allowed advisors to organize and group pieces of information into categories and allowed them to provide their own name for the categories.

This activity allowed us to propose a navigation and layout structure that matched the users' mental model. We then validated this IA with a quick 1:1 usability study.

Design Concepts in Figma

After an information architecture was handed off, the development team began to implement and release pieces of the navigation in iterations.

During that time, our UX team continued to move forward with the rest of the design concepts. Based on the information gathered in research, we created concepts for the main pages in AdRx using Figma. Using a Figma library that was created by our Design System team, we were able to quickly create concepts and page flows of the AdRx application.

Test Concepts in Loop11

At the point we were ready to validate our concepts with users, IU was in new student orientation, which meant our advisors were extremely busy scheduling and helping students register for classes. We decided to do remote unmoderted usability testing using a tool called Loop11 so that we could let advisors complete the study at their own convenience.

We created a prototype using Axure and used the Loop11 analysis tool to quickly analyze the data collected during the test.

Iterate, Release, Test, Repeat

Our UX team works closely with our development teams throughout each sprint. Our new designs get released into a "Sandbox" environment before they are released into the Production environment, and this allows advisors to preview the release and provide continuious feedback before it will impact their work.

We follow an iterative release/feedback/design loop while we are releasing smaller features and functionality.

The outcomes.

The improved student profile

The most significant work and design effort was spent improving the student summary that advisors rely on to prepare for appointments and monitor students' academic progress. The old AdRx student profile page had important information buried in accordions requiring advisors multiple clicks to find information they needed to prepare in the few minutes between appointments.

The research we conducted focused on discovering exactly what information needed to be presented in a quick scan and placed that information into meaningful cards on the page. We also added a photo of the student and an audio clip demonstrating how to pronounce the student's name along with GPA, major, and essential enrollment and scheduling information.

Student retention and success

The overall goal is to see an increase in retention and graduation rates of students at all IU campuses, however since most degrees at IU are a 4 year degree, we need to wait another two years to determine if our efforts have improved graduation rates. Student retention rates have improved from 78% to 81% over the time we have released new AdRx.

Business goals

  • Retire 3rd party EAB application with contract ending (retired)
  • Migrate all of AdRx application off of old Java framework as support was ending (98% migrated)
  • Integrate AdRx with other systems like SIS, iGPS, and Scheduling applications with available APIs (integrated with SIS, iGPS, SAS, and Kiosk)

User satisfaction (advisors)

  • "LOVE LOVE LOVE the new design. this is SO much more modern and SO much more intuitive. This is REALLY good and responsive work. THANK YOU for your efforts!! "
  • "I love the pictures of the students. The student page is very clean- love it! "
  • "Great work!!! I really love so much of this. Thank you so much for your hard work!"
  • "I really like the functionality of the new interface. Most relevant information is now forward facing for advisors which I think will help streamline the record keeping process."
  • "I like the look of it. It's user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to navigate. More info accessible from a single screen, too. "