longwood university visit project

service design + ux design + user research 

Updating the college tour experience for a modern and competitive landscape.

This work was part of a one-year contract position for Longwood University.

My role

I love Longwood University. It’s my alma mater, employer, and biggest supporter these past few years. 

 

After completing my Master’s degree at the VCU Brandcenter, I was given the daunting challenge of reimagining the campus visit experience for prospective students and and families, and just one year to do it. 

How can Longwood increase its deposits and enrollment when students visit campus?

Headlines from the Washington Post and Commonwealth Times.

Situation

 

Higher education in Virginia is in a state of crisis.

 

Birth rates are lower, student loans are high, and competitor schools are making every effort possible to be the place students spend the most formative years of their life.

Opportunity

 

Part of Longwood’s magic is that it isn’t like any other school.

 

Instead of finding a band-aid solution for this academic year, we took a step back and looked at our entire Admissions journey to identify areas for change that would make the most impact for our future Lancers.

Where can Longwood come in during the application process where other schools are not? 

Current Visit Experience

 

Covered the basics, but with two major painpoints.​

In past years, Longwood could count on the physical campus to seal the deal. 

But campus construction and competition from other schools left our space with more to be desired.

After the initial visit, Longwood might not see the prospective student again.

We needed to find a way for students to experience a unique second visit.

A new visit experience that focused on high impression moments. 

We were able to solve for our two major painpoints, while also providing personalized experiences.

FIRST IMPRESSION

SECOND IMPRESSION

1. VISIT WEBPAGE REDESIGN

We scraped away every opportunity for users to direct away from planning a tour, and streamlined their experience to register.

Previous Visit Page

Previous Visit Page

Wireframe

Plan You Visit Wirefrae
2. Admissions presentation

Prior to taking a tour,  prospective students listen to a 15 minute presentation.

At every other school, (and believe me, I visited all the other schools) this segment usually starts with a video, and a long list of accolades and facts.

 

We asked ourselves :

Why should they listen to us?
What do prospective students and families really want to know?
What would matter and help our future Lancers make an easy decision?

Establishing credibility

Most schools begin with an overview of the University, or a branded video.
 

Instead of speaking at a student, we leveled with them.

 

Beginning each presentation with a photo of each counselor at 18 years old - acknowledging that we’ve been in their situation before, and are here to help.

A format anyone can follow

We wanted to create a presentation that provides information our users would find valuable - not just reciting information from our website.

We gathered the 5 most common questions we receive from students every day, and used that as the structure of our presentation.

Previous Presentation Slides

1/1
3. Campus tour

Something here

1/1

Welcome to Longwood U

We had the opportunity to plan the grand opening of our new Welcome Center, Radcliff Hall - which serves as our base of Admissions operations, and first stop on the campus tour.

From Facts to Feelings

The original tour route stopped at every building on campus.
Not only is this super boring, but it’s time-consuming too.

 

We redesigned the tour to follow a thematic approach:

 

  • Answer top of mind questions first, by showing "checklist" tour features at the beginning. 
    (Dining Hall, Residence Hall)
     

  • Seal the deal with real student stories and traditions, and a visual representation of Graduation on the Wheeler Mall.

1/2

We went through a few different routes.

Going Undercover

Thanks to Longwood’s partnership with other public universities, I was able to investigate campus tours at other schools.

*You can see my full review here

Reinforcing the Idea

We developed a Campus Experience Guide to help our hallowed grounds be visit-ready all year long.

This guide served as the perfect balance between our construction Master Plan, (which was long and complicated) and  the University Brand guidelines (very thematic and marketing-based) for daily use.

Brand Experience Guide Pages

1/1
1. Post-visit survey

Prior to taking a tour,  prospective students listen to a 15 minute presentation.

At every other school, (and believe me, I visited all the other schools) this segment usually starts with a video, and a long list of accolades and facts.

 

We asked ourselves :

Why should they listen to us?
What do prospective students and families really want to know?
What would matter and help our future Lancers make an easy decision?

Learning

 

Emphasis on experience.

We saw a 59% increase in deposits compared to the 2019 and 2018 academic years this fall - a direct result of these personalized and intentional solutions.

It's okay to be a student.

I had zero knowledge of the admissions process before working on this project, but I feel like it helped better understand the audience I was solving for.

 

Solo Dolo.

At the end of the day, these changes to the Admissions visit experience had to live in the form of suggestions, rather than mandates. Learning how to navigate life as a “consultant”,  leading a team, and flexing between two different offices on campus was a fun mental challenge. 

TEAM

 

Visit Project Team

Paige Rollins

Johnice Brown

Aaron Sims

Gina Caldwell

Emily Heady
 

Longwood Student Ambassadors

Campus Aesthetic Committee

University Marketing + Communications

Undergraduate Admissions

President's Office

TOOLS

 

Sketch

Google Slides

User Interviews

TargetX 
Salesforce

THANKS

 

Longwood University

Christopher Newport University

Virginia Commonwealth University

James Madison University

All the podcasts listened to on my hour and a half commute (Dolly Parton's America, for example)