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Lehigh University Alumni Hall

Usability Test Drives Decisions for University Website

When Lehigh University set out to redo its website for prospective undergraduates, one overriding factor was crystal clear to the staff members and stakeholders who were making the key decisions concerning the site. The cohort of digital natives to whom the website needed to appeal, was likely to have different ideas about web navigation and the kinds of site structures that make the most sense.

There was also no question that the stakes were high for getting it right. Gen Z has high expectations and little patience for web experiences that are confusing. When prospective undergraduates deemed a college website to be sub par, it could stop their search in its tracks. 

As a leading research institution, Lehigh University’s determination to get it right was guided by  an approach that characterizes the university’s angle on most endeavors: questioning assumptions, digging deep, and backing up decisions with research.  


High-Stakes Inquiry

Working in concert with Promet Source, Lehigh University proceeded with a three-tiered website usability testing process that included one-on-one recorded interviews with prospective undergraduates, in which interviewees were asked to share their screens and navigate different menu options for specific information. These screen shares were recorded to allow navigational experiences and trouble spots to be analyzed closely, with a greater depth of insight than could be gained from simply stating preferences.

Read the Case Study on Usability Testing with Prospective Students

Additional research included online, self-guided assessments of the same navigation menus from a much wider statistical base of the same cohorts. Stakeholders also participated in a self-guided assessment of menu options to help highlight potential differences in web navigation menus that made the most sense to staff vs. potential undergraduates. 

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