We're proud to provide E-commerce services.

Building a Course Book and User Management Platform in 6 weeks.

Introducing a post-purchase experience.

In order to provide access to additional course book material, LCM worked together with the Press, to introduce a consolidated course book and user management platform. This new platform allows instructors, teaching assistants and students to seamlessly create user accounts with different privilege levels and quickly gain access to gated resource materials to supplement their course book purchase. It also provides the Press with meaningful data about their users to support more customized user experiences and targeted marketing efforts.

With ambitious goals, a finite budget and tight timeline, we worked collaboratively with the Press to get alignment on a prioritized backlog of business requirements for this new business tool. This approach allowed the development team to deliver the features of highest impact and value first.

Before this upgrade, the Press managed over 50 disparate sites with no central reporting system.

As multidisciplinary business partners, we worked with the Press to first understand their business requirements through a review of their internal pain points, future goals and the needs of their users. This information, combined with our existing knowledge of the project, informed our approach to building the new platform.

The primary goal of this project was to provide students, instructors, and teaching assistants with access to the ancillary materials for a course book. At the outset, the resources were spread out among dozens of different sites, which made updating the resources and tracking their usage impossible. The types of resources the Press had available for each book varied from book to book, but included PDFs, videos, quizzes and other interactive content. Further, some resources for a book are only appropriate for instructors or teaching assistants, and it would be detrimental to the Press if these items were made available to students or anonymous users.  

We approached this problem by first determining what each group needed to be able to access. We fleshed out the concept of a resource, and built an admin interface to create resources attached to a specific book, group them, and manage the access level.  

Next, we determined how they would access it (the signup workflow for each type of user).  For example, students could be granted immediate access to a book’s resources as soon as they requested it as long as they were able to answer a verification question, while instructors needed additional manual verification and administrator approval, and teaching assistants would be granted access immediately by an existing instructor. We built out three distinct registration and access request workflows, and tested them rigorously to make sure they made sense to nontechnical users.  

Before this upgrade, the Press managed over 50 disparate sites with no central reporting system. This fragmented infrastructure prevented them from gathering any meaningful information about their users, was leading to missed opportunities at the Press.

Browser window displaying Yale University Press Course Resources webpage

Advanced reporting and analytics were introduced to support the goal of better defining and understanding the Press’ audience. Common questions they faced included: Who is utilizing our material? What do they find useful? What items don’t get used as frequently? To answer these questions, we worked with the Press to codify the most important data they were interested in knowing about their customers, and built a system to capture that data at key moments during the user registration workflow. On the admin side, we created a unified reporting experience that allows Press employees to manage users and obtain report data about their users through a single, powerful interface. For content usage reporting, we leveraged Google Analytics to capture segmented traffic data. The level of reporting that is now possible on the platform has helped inform critical business decisions at the Press.

Lastly, we digitalized an existing labor intensive and inefficient paper process at the Press to allow instructors to be able to request desk and exam copies of course books through their existing account. The platform replaces lengthy paper forms that had to be faxed to the Press with a digital version that prefills information based on the book and user and can be submitted easily.

The Press’ course book web presence was a scattershot of materials on several domains and on varying platforms. In order for the Press to expand, these items needed to be centralized with better organization and improved accessibility. Customers of the Press now have easier and faster access to more resource material than before, and the Press has the data it needs to support marketing efforts and future business decisions. Significant cost reductions were realized by taking advantage of consolidation and automation.