The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) offers instruction and certification for fitness trainers, aerobic trainers, and medical professionals.
ISSA’s initial request was to improve engagement and retention in their online courses. They were looking for students to more quickly complete their courses and more easily navigate the resources that ISSA offers.
As many of their students are working professionals, the learning experience needed to accommodate sporadic and flexible schedules, allowing students to study when and where they’re able to fit it into their day.
From a user perspective, moving through the courses was difficult. It wasn’t easy to understand your progress or what you needed to do next. Resources and other valuable information were buried and difficult to find. Additionally, the visual design of the platform felt antiquated and lacked a mobile experience to satisfy their users.
ISSA had a wealth of research for us to start with, including original transcripts and summarized findings from user and stakeholder interviews. In addition, we gathered copies of transcripts from their Support department and access to user research polls.
We organized the feedback into key areas of friction throughout the online experience, from initial sign up through post-certification support. The feedback was transitioned into a roadmap that would guide us through the launch of an updated course experience, including design, user-testing, front-end development and implementation.
Our first phase of execution involved sketching various concepts to address the friction that we found. We kept things at a low fidelity, using only markers and paper to brainstorm ideas, then fleshing out those sketches on whiteboards. We then shared our whiteboard sketches with client stakeholders for feedback.
Maintaining a low fidelity approach allowed us to move rapidly through a number of concepts without getting tied up in UI details. Low fidelity concepts kept the conversation at the appropriate level for this part of the project.
After a couple rounds, we landed on a variation of a single concept that solved for the majority of issues we were looking to address.
We turned our sketches into wireframes to refine our ideas and dig deeper into a detailed level of execution. After reviewing and iterating with client stakeholders, we were ready to validate our ideas with actual users. We created low-fidelity, clickable prototypes to walk through with existing ISSA students. Fortunately, the ISSA community is highly engaged and we quickly gathered a group of users that were eager to participate. We used screen sharing tools and video calls to watch users click through our prototype and talk through the experience with them.
Our main goal was to validate our concept for organizing course information and navigation. Our concept was successful across all of our interviews. In addition, we were able to discover several smaller insights to general student behavior, which informed additional unplanned updates. With our concepts validated, we moved confidently into visual design.
A key moment in the project came as we compiled our findings from user interviews. We received unanimous validation in our approach to restructuring the course, making students' lives easier. In addition, we also got a sense that students would respond well to an updated learning experience.
This discovery prompted us to work with the client to figure out how to “fast track” our original project schedule, getting new designs live about 4 months earlier than originally planned. This was done with the understanding that we would launch with an MVP and iterate once we received feedback from users.
Our process allowed us to move quickly into execution and ultimately push new designs live faster than originally anticipated. Our relationship is ongoing and we’re continuing to iterate on the course experience, keeping users engaged throughout their education and into their fitness careers.
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