Uncovering pathways to success for Ara

Ara Institute of Canterbury is a vibrant, progressive, government-funded tertiary institute providing world-class, tertiary-level education throughout the Canterbury and Waitaki region.

The marketing team at Ara went to the market to find a design and user experience agency to partner with who could review their online experience for prospective students and make recommendations at a high level.

the objective

Reflecting the learner journey online

They knew from feedback about their site that the Ara’s online presence was confusing to navigate for their students and that it didn’t closely reflect the actual experience students have when they come to Ara.

They were looking for strategic direction at a high level that would help to ‘re-imagine the online experience of Ara for prospective students’ including how they navigate through the website and choose what to study from the options available.

The overall approach needed to encompass “ara” as the Maori work for path or journey, representing the learning process, pathways to success and routes that criss cross the Canterbury Plains from the mountains to the sea.

Engaging with learners

Our process included running workshops with the team from Ara to consider the online experience of their online users, and to understand more clearly their audiences and the different personas that made up those audiences.

A second workshop focused on design elements, working with the inhouse design team to understand the principles behind the current brand and how it is applied across different media.

The third phase of the project included more detail audience analysis to create a set of effective personas, followed by user journey mapping through key areas of site content, planning of UX and key interactions online.

Finally a set of wireframes and high level designs, along with a set of strategic recommendations were developed and presented to the Ara team to gain a comprehensive overview of the new user flow recommendations.

Moving forward

The response to our work from the Ara team was very positive and we met their brief in terms of providing a strong set of recommendations and guidelines for website design and development going forward.