Activate Learning.

Recruiting students and engaging with local businesses.

Who is Activate Learning?

Activate Learning is a pioneering education group, which is growing to meet opportunities in the education market. They operate internationally providing secondary, further and higher education, apprenticeship and workforce training as well as commercial consultancy.

The organisation has been on a journey of transformation, and their Strategic Plan (2017-2021) is driven by a desire to become a hub for nurturing talent and placing graduates to meet the needs of learners and employers alike. It also puts a focus on a group-wide approach, with the learning delivered by their three group colleges now arranged into cross-group faculties. 

To support ongoing transformation, Activate Learning asked us to conduct a phase of discovery work to understand how their public-facing digital landscape needed to be designed in order to support the needs of their eclectic audience. A key focus was bringing an existing group and three college websites into one, cohesive whole.

Our 3-month discovery phase consisted of...

Qualitative research with business stakeholders, segmented student groups and technical platform developers

Desk research focusing on competitor college on a national and international basis

Validation of client brief based on user needs and research findings

Quantitative research with segmented groups and business stakeholders

Analysis of behavioural data from Google Analytics

Our discovery work unveiled key insights that our strategy needed to address.

Low brand awareness

Students were often emotionally & mentally connected to their local college, unaware they are studying at a college that is a part of a wider, international group.

Varied influencer groups

When considering further education options, whilst most students will listen to their peer groups, influential stakeholders are also made up of teachers, career advisors and parents.

Students have a juxtaposed mental model

They are attracted to colleges because of their perceived freedom and maturity. However, they can be intimidated by colleges that appear too mature or too aligned to a visual standard of a university having just left the security of a school environment.

More than just a course

Students are thinking wider than just the course they are applying for. Most of the time, they have an industry in mind, or sometimes even the exact job they want to move into. 

They are looking for a college that will support their career path and to know they are making the right long-term decision.

Once we were clear on the challenges, Activate Learning engaged us further to devise a UX strategy to engage their multi-faceted audience and deliver an experience that would continue to support business objectives for the coming years.

The Project Team

Tried and tested techniques

To aid the creation of the strategy and design work, we used a number of tried and tested techniques including;

  • Observational research through shadowing of staff

  • Creation and prioritisation of Epics & User Stories

  • Top Tasks survey with students, parents and business stakeholders (to test alignment)

  • Card sorting exercises

  • Co-design workshops

  • Research sessions with key audience groups

  • Executive Team consultation to engage organisation stakeholders and validate designs against the wider organisation Strategic Vision

  • Validation of experience design through 1:1 sessions with audience groups, and wider business stakeholders

  • Creation of performance framework in line with user outcomes

The user experience and visual design process was iterative, allowing us to test our work with users along the way resulting in an intuitive, engaging experience that also delivers against business objectives.

Next steps

During this phase of work, we worked with stakeholders to align measurement against user outcomes. ​

These metrics will then feed a continuous stream of analysis, research and design to ensure that the Activate Learning digital experience continues to support and facilitate user needs and business objectives.