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.
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.