Welcome to the labyrinthThrough its on-line student portal, The Princeton Review (TPR) offered its customers a myriad of helpful choices for college data, advice, admissions forms and test prep courses—so many choices those customers often found themselves lost in a labyrinth of web pages, with too many distractions and an architecture that made navigation through the site slow and confusing. The back-end of the portal was equally disorganized, with data from many legacy systems slow to load, exacerbating an already annoying situation for portal users.
The SMAC Stack InsightsOrchestrating an online experience based on behavioral analysis and user segmentation is key to maximizing customer loyalty and repeat usage. A 50 year old parent after all has different expectations and needs than a 15 year old student.
Our solution: logic on the front end, logic on the back end.We realized that over time, both the front and back ends of the portal had evolved to serve TPR business needs, without regard for the user experience. If the experience were to be significantly improved, a simplifying and centralizing logic was required for both the user interface and data management that would reflect users’ priorities.
Organize, streamline, visualize.Our team employed site-use data to determine the most important information for portal users and then began to develop new portal prototypes that reflected their priorities. Through A/B testing with panels of student users, we were quickly able to refine the site’s information architecture, navigation and design, focusing around visual presentation of related information that made it easy for users to find the content they needed.
The portal’s grade went from F to A.When completed, the new portal offered each user a personalized, streamlined experience, where they could view their courses, test scores and exam due-dates. By significantly improving the experience, we enabled students to prioritize their efforts, and manage many tasks through the portal with ease. Student ratings of the portal, conducted before and after the redesign, went from “poor”— a score of an F, to “best imaginable”—a score of an A.
The Princeton Review’s Student Portal was awarded the 2015 “Silver” Horizon Interactive Award in the “School/University” category for excellence in interactive media production.