UX Case Study: Improving Course Discovery
The edX marketing site contains an overwhelming number of courses to choose from. This is an amazing online course catalog with content from well known universities from around the globe, but it is difficult to compare courses.
My role: UI Designer, UX support
Company: edX
Date: Summer 2018
Business Problem
People enroll in courses to try them out, but do not intend to invest time in completing them.
This means prospective learners...
Do not have enough information to select the right course
Spend more time to find a course that is right for them
Spend less time learning
Are more likely to bounce b
efore finding what they need
Which means the business...
Does not have an accurate estimate of committed learners
Loses customers to competitors with better browsing patterns & clearer expectations
Learners in the wrong course are likely to abandon ship, and will not become paying customers
So how do we make sure people are finding the right course to begin with?
To understand who our most relevant audience was, we ran unmoderated interviews using Usertesting.com. We found three main audiences who would get value out of our product.
(Generative research led by Christine Michael, UX researcher)
The Career Changer: Looking for major changes in their career, less familiar with the subject because it is not their current job role. Need learning support to know where to start and what to do next.
The 9-5: Looking to improve their current job role, whether through a promotion, a higher level position, or a new skill. Will know where their skills gaps are, and will search to find the specific skills they need. May be satisfied with a course without completing it.
The Executive / Cross-Functional: Executives, project managers, and other cross-functional roles who need to know broad skills, but won’t need to get deep into a subject.
Throughout the design process, I ran qualitative usability tests to de-risk the proposal (5 second tests, usability tests, and desirability tests).
The development team then moved quickly to gather quantitative data. One subject page and a handful of courses were updated to the new design and monitored in an A/B test before moving forward more aggressively.
The work on this project led to a re-platforming effort to make visual changes quicker and easier to implement. The visuals started in this project were updated and improved in later iterations. The text and object styles I created also informed the beginnings of a design system for the organization.

Design Solutions
A brighter, more informative header gives context to prospective learners who are new to the field.
Usability tests showed that the product offering was not always obvious. The clear page title showed improvements in when we compared 5 second tests.
A one sentence explanation of the field gives Career Changers a quick intro to the subject, as visitors to this page are likely coming from an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook encouraging a career shift.
We prime users for what is useful with a short list of what you need to succeed in Data Science and how edX courses can help.
Learners can quickly see above the fold whether a course will be in their price range, within their schedule, and on their level.
Important questions that participants asked in usability tests were brought to the forefront.
We increased the visibility and clarity of how much it will cost, how long it will take, if there are pre-requisites, and what topics are covered.
Courses on the site do not have consistently detailed prerequisites lists, so we tracked the number of users to click "See Prerequisites" to learn if we should invest in gathering more detailed pre-requisites from course providers.