User Experience (UX) service

Card Services student research into photos

We investigated student experiences, attitudes and behaviours around personal photos and ID.

The client

Help Services, User Services Division, Information Services

  • Barry Croucher (Head of Help Services)
  • Karen Bonthron (Help Services Team Manager)

The challenge

Issuing University ID cards is a significant annual operation, and a key activity when students join the University.

First card for students increased by nearly 20% ​to 16,436 in 2016/17. Satisfaction rates are high and yet support calls relating to student cards were in excess of 1600 for August and September 2017 alone.

Understanding what students want and need in this area potentially provides us with a route to both lower overheads and increase student satisfaction at a critical early point in their time with us.

We set out to go beyond the service itself, and find out more about student attitudes to image capture, uploading and sharing. ​

What could we learn about their behaviours around selfies, sharing and social media that could give us some direction for card services of the future?

What we did

This was an intentionally short-duration and low-budget research exercise that was intended to both deliver insight of value to Card Services and a wider range of University service delivery units, and demonstrate the value of undertaking early discovery work to better inform planning and idea-generation exercises.

Working over a 2 week period, we:

  • interviewed Card Services staff for their perspective on how the operation currently functioned and to get insight into the costs and pain points from a business perspective that could help shape upcoming work with students
  • interviewed 6 students on a 1-2-1 basis to uncover their attitudes to personal photography, social media and their experiences of travelling to the UK and joining the University
  • ran a workshop with 7 students which challenged them to work both individually and collaboratively, expressing their feelings, attitudes and experiences both verbally and visually

For all user engagement work we invited members of the Card Services team to join us and observe the sessions so they could hear student experiences first hand and better understand how the UX Service undertakes engagement with users.

Outcomes and benefits

The insight gleaned from these three engagement activities was distilled into a slide deck report which combined key findings with visuals the students produced.

The report broke down recommendations into quick fixes – amendments to web pages and ideas about how in person engagement could be altered with minimal overhead – and longer term considerations.

These longer term recommendations broadly proposed that further insight be gathered to validate findings to date, leading to co-design activities to envisage new and better ways of delivering student ID services.

This work could then form the foundation of a vision for a future student ID service, and provide solid, evidenced support for project funding bids.

The Help Services team were enthused by the inclusive nature of the user research and further opportunities for collaboration are being explored.

The summary of student attitudes and behaviours is new insight for the University; as well as feeding recommendations for Card Services, it will be of interest to other student-facing services across the institution.

UX techniques used

Interviews and contextual enquiry


Client quotes

Big thanks for all your help with the project. It was a really enjoyable process throughout. Hoping to do more work with the UX Service team in future.

Karen BonthronHelp Services Team Manager

A great collaboration and useful findings too! It’s given us a list of the immediate quick wins and quite a few lightbulb moments…

Barry CroucherHead of Help Services, IS User Services Division