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Mobile-friendly display in the Studyportals search results | part 4

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Product Innovation 4 - mobile-friendly search

This is the fourth article in a series of articles, documenting the processes and steps we take towards improving and innovating our product. By understanding the student journey in and out, we’ll show how a platform can be built that is valuable to students and agile to the demands of international education.

Stay tuned and see the various insights we continue to gain as we continue to build, adapt, and create the biggest education search platform, bringing absolute transparency and reliability to international education.


Product Innovation Part 4: Search and filter access for mobile users 

One good way to make sure you’re targeting the right students is to understand their browsing behaviour. Students in the younger generation, these days, are living on-the-go lifestyles, where a big portion of their internet browsing is done on their phones. Sitting on the bus, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, standing in line for coffee – young people (many of us included) stay connected through their cell phones.

The way a lot of mobile apps work is by giving us an easy display functionality, allowing us to easily scroll through and view what we need in a way that fits the constraints of the medium. Mobile devices are typically smaller (e.g. 320px by 480px), and we rely upon a limited touch-screen and keyboard that we navigate with our inflexible thumbs. So, in order to accommodate this medium, the information has to be displayed in a manner that is easily adjusted to small screens.

Given that 40% of our users come to our portals with their mobile devices – presumably while they are Googling a specific programme, or researching universities in which they are interested – it’s important that we give much of our attention to mobile-friendly display. After all, the concerns, questions, techniques, and protocols for displaying on a mobile device are entirely different from making your site accessible on a desktop.

Search filter and sorting for mobile devices

On each of our portals, we enable users to search, filter, and compare different degree programmes, when they search for a specific subject or country.  Right now, when students are searching for the degree programme they seek, our search page shows all of the results that match a student’s search query.

mobile search - searchpage

This gives users complete control over the search results that best suit their needs and interests. They can change the location, tuition fees, classroom structure (e.g. online or in-person), and duration that they are looking for, and the programmes that satisfy those conditions will be displayed for them.

But, it’s important that users also have the same search and filter capacity with their mobile devices.

Haven’t you ever been looking for something to order on your phone, but the buttons are too small or close together for your thumbs to select on your phone? That’s because lots of websites don’t devote a lot of their energy to making their search capacities mobile-accessible.

At Studyportals, however, our developers have redesigned the search page in a manner that adjusts to and complies with the design of mobile devices. Bigger buttons, better organization, and a larger display all help make the newly-engineered search page better for mobile devices.

Study Portals mobile search - page results

Having an accessible filter and search function enables users to have the same abilities as anyone using a desktop device. Considering a large portion of our users are using their mobile devices to browse our portals, it’s important that we devise a product that suits their needs as much as anyone else’s.

Deciding to fix our mobile display

Our developers devote a considerable amount of energy to our mobile display. Simply put, we’re no different from the everyday internet users; and so, we can easily sympathise and understand how frustrating it is to encounter a complicated interface when you’re using your cell phone.

So, when it became clear that users were having trouble with our search page, finding that they couldn’t filter or search in the same manner as our desktop users, we immediately tinkered with and adjusted the buttons for mobile devices, allowing these users to better utilize the features.

Meeting students along their student journey

In their step towards finding their education options, Studyportals acts as a guide. But it’s also important that we make students the heroes of their own story.

To make someone into a hero, we need to empower them. They have a problem, to which they need a solution; and when they become the hero, they use the tools at their fingertips to get through their journey.

Being constantly connected to their social networks and applications, students are using their phones in pretty much any stage on the journey.

You could be thinking about your future Master’s programme when you’re on the train, when you suddenly have a question: how much is the tuition? Quickly, on your phone, you search for the programme you want, when you suddenly realise that page isn’t organised in a manner that’s readable from your phone. You throw your hands up in anger, close out of the app, and decide that you’ll wait until you’re at your computer.

This is an unfortunate instance of a missed opportunity. The more confident, informed, and comfortable a user feels, the more likely she is to make a choice to apply somewhere. But, as is an ongoing theme throughout this series, if you don’t make information accessible and readable to users, then they’re unlikely to feel that sense of confidence.

So, when they’re in that stage of research and decision-making, our portals can be there with information displayed in a manner that helps them make the next steps.


Further reading

Part V – encouraging early website registrations
Part III – improving search results
P
art II – insights into visa requirements
Part I – adding transparency about admission chances
About the series – introduction

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