Why Usability Matters

When evaluating scholarship management solutions, ease of use might be the most important factor to consider. The three main populations of people using the software - administrators, reviewers, and students - are quite diverse in age and technological savvy. An intuitive, well-designed user interface is essential to serving all users well and minimizing mistakes and frustrations.

AwardSpring was specifically designed to address ease-of-use concerns that we heard from our first customers. Here’s how the application is specially designed for each of our main user groups:

Administrators

We know that administrators come and go, so it’s essential that even brand-new users feel comfortable and confident using AwardSpring. Intuitive drag-and-drop functionality makes it simple to add or modify questions and add conditional logic for applicants. And since AwardSpring is designed for mobile, administrators can seamlessly switch between working on a desktop, laptop, and iPad.

Reviewers

Some reviewers are very tech-savvy; others, not so much. The reviewer’s AwardSpring experience was designed specifically for those who may be less comfortable with technology to make it as user-friendly as possible. There’s just one button to click on each page, so it’s impossible for a reviewer to get lost. Once an application is scored, scores are automatically saved and the next application is just a single click away, saving time and effort. And everything can be done on the reviewer’s preferred device.

"The usability of the program has helped empower our team and translates to serving our students well. It's efficient on multiple fronts. Even reviewers with no technology experience picked up on the process quickly due to how neat the system is." -Darren Echols, Director of Admissions, Lee University

Students

These days, students are generally very comfortable with devices and technology, but the scholarship application process may be a new experience. AwardSpring guides students through their applications step by step and automatically saves students’ progress after every answered question. Once a student completes an application, he or is is automatically applied to any other scholarships for which he or she is qualified. And of course, these tech-savvy students are able to use AwardSpring on any device they want!

"It is very user-friendly. And the web-based system allows me to access it from anywhere and help people on the go." -Rachel Debigare, Executive Director, The Education Foundation of Alachua County

How We Create Outstanding User Experiences

To ensure that the user experience is always top of mind, we ask ourselves two important questions before we design anything new: Where are there opportunities for mistakes or misunderstandings? What would the consequences of a mistake be for our end users? The answers to these questions drive our design decisions.

We use three techniques to make our application easy to use:

--Clear, simple language. We scrutinize all of the text in AwardSpring to ensure it is accurate, clear, and easy to understand.

--Additional explanatory text. In areas where there is a potential for confusion, we’ve included explanations that clarify the action about to be taken. Just click or tap on the question mark icon to reveal the explanatory text.

--Confirming important changes. When a user is about to make a disruptive or irreversible change, a pop-up confirmation box details the results of the action and asks the user to confirm that he or she wants to continue. This way, we reduce the risk of accidentally making a permanent change.

Creating an excellent user experience doesn’t happen by accident. It requires thousands of little decisions that seem individually inconsequential but result in a simple, understandable experience in the end. Every time we add a new feature, we have to consider how it fits into the administrator’s, reviewer’s, and student’s workflow. There is a significant development cost to building for usability first, but we wouldn’t do it any other way.