Berkeleytime is UC Berkeley's most visited student website for course and academic planning used by 28k+ students and receives 180k+ visitors each year. At Berkeleytime, our mission is to make UC Berkeley seem smaller and less intimidating by making the process of discovering and planning academics simple, seamless, and less stressful.
Prior to developing scheduler, Berkeleytime had 3 core features:
As the Product Design Lead on the Berkeleytime team for the past 2 years, I lead and work alongside 3 other product designers on conducting user research, developing prototypes and iterations of features, and managing the minimalistic brand guidelines and design library of Berkeleytime.
The Berkeleytime team previously was extremely engineering-heavy, and little to no-user research was done prior to building out features. By taking on the design lead role, I brought my human-centered approach to the team and presented findings from surveys and user interviews to the engineering teams to justify the need for a scheduler feature for students. This project spanned 2 semesters all the way from user research to prototyping and user testing.
Throughout the process of building Scheduler from scratch, I also worked closely with frontend engineers to check-in with feasibility and feature utility and with the PM to align on priorities and timeline.
Finally, I also revived my previous role as the Marketing Director from the completion of our finalized high-fidelity design prototypes, simultaneously planning a workshop for incoming freshmen and transfer students to increase exposure to Berkeleytime while gathering user insights from their first experience with using the new feature.
Choosing and planning courses to fit into your schedule can be scary.
UC Berkeley is known for its academically-rigorous culture, which is one of the biggest factors contributing to students' stress.
While Berkeleytime has not done much user research previously, I led my team to release a survey (274 responses) and a complementary interview (10 chosen from diverse student group) and diary study to identify:
1) where course planning and academics stand as a contribution to overall college stress
2) what solutions or platforms students currently use from course planning to enrollment
3) how students currently use Berkeleytime during that process
Our survey results revealed the following trends:
As a majority of respondents identified academics as their number 1 source of stress at Berkeley, we want to delve deeper into how do students mitigate academic stress. Our results reveal that even though 93% of respondents find CalCentral inconvenient to use, a large majority of them still use is as their main course planning platform, which implies that there could be no other good alternatives available.
From this, I want to explore how to students currently use CalCentral during their course planning or enrollment journey. Delving deeper into the inconveniences of academic and course scheduling planning, our student interviewees have mentioned the follow key points:
From our interviews, we deduced the follow key points:
Building on the inconvenient back-and-forth across different platforms our participants have reported, I proposed to conduct a diary study to better understand how and when users interact with each platform, and for what purpose they use each platform for.
Our diary studies reveal a common process in discovering, adding, and re-adding classes among student participants. After finally discovering which courses work best for them, most participants found it frustrating when their chosen courses won't fit into their schedule, in which they would have to restart the entire process in finding other courses before finally adding it to their Google Calendar.
By creating a scheduling feature integrated into our current services, there is potential to make Berkeleytime a more comprehensive resource for course enrollment that can increase user retention on our website, introduce new opportunities for users to personalize their academic planning, and overall making the overall process of the full course planning from the discovery of class to adding it to their schedule more centralized and less stressful for Berkeley students.
With this in mind, we proceeded to establish a goal and how might we statement:
How might we design an intuitive system that supports students throughout the entire course planning journey?
Before looking into key features/areas of improvement, we conducted an audit of CalCentral and identified components, features, and functionalities that users have struggled with navigating.
After conducting our initial audit and extracting key findings, we pitched our Berkeleytime Scheduler proposal to the project manager and engineering team, successfully persuading them to make the Berkeleytime Scheduler our next key project.
For our first iteration, we built the user flow and prototype of the Scheduler, starting from adding classes to interacting with the schedule. Our first initial prototype was also used for user testing, in which we identified the key paints and gain points for each step of the user journey.
After prototyping and testing our first iteration, we found some additional gaps in the user journey as well as questions that still need to be resolved:
We also came up with multiple edge cases to consider in our second iteration.
Iteration 3 is our most recent iteration that we finalized on after two rounds of user testing and running it by the engineering team.
Some changes we made for the final prototype include:
Currently, we are in communications with Frontend Engineering team to hand off finalized designs and prototyping the user flow. Scheduler is scheduled (haha) to be ready by the end of the spring semester.
While I've worked on Berkeleytime design projects in-person in previous semester, leading the first virtual fully fleshed project has been an exhilarating learning experience. Not only did I learn how to best manage tasks and coordinate with my design team, but I also had the opportunity to find ways to communicate effectively across departments. I'm really excited to see this project come to life soon and am thrilled to work on some other projects with Berkeleytime - stay tuned!