The Task-Based Benchmark Study

UserZoom ran a quick task-based benchmark study between Laureate International Universities and Educational Management Corporation (EDMC), two well-known education management companies, to compare the experience of finding information about their campuses online.

  • We ran the unmoderated remote task-based benchmark study with 60 in-the-wild users on their own devices over the course of a single day
  • We split participants equally between each website so that 30 went to Laureate and 30 went to EDMC
  • The Task: Find out which campus is located in San Diego, CA
  • We validated the task by asking participants which campus was located in San Diego, CA

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

We showed all 60 participants an image of Laureate’s and EDMC’s homepage and asked them to choose which site they associated with several UX attributes.

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As we usually see when there is a condensed, text heavy homepage (EDMC) versus a homepage that has more pictures and requires slightly more scrolling (Laureate), the more succinct homepage tends to be seen as more Organized and Informational while the more picture laden homepage tends to be seen as more Lively and Welcoming.

Screenshot Click Test

Before participants visited the websites we wanted to get a better understanding of their first impressions of the site, which is why we split the participants evenly and asked where they would click if they wanted to learn more about which schools are part of their network.

In this case we asked participants to only click once which is why the percentage of users and clicks is the same. Click on the images to enlarge.

Laureate

Laureate heatmap

A majority of participants clicked in the top navigation bar, with zero participants clicking in the footer despite having a Locations link there. Overall the area that had the highest percentage of clicks was Our Network, which was followed closely by About Laureate and Centers of Excellence. All the highlighted areas would successfully lead users to information about the campuses (although some more directly than others) for an overall success rate of 73%.

EDMC

EDMC heatmap

EDMC also saw a much higher percentage of users click above the fold, with more than half of their users clicking in the top nav bar. The most clicked location by far was Locations, followed by About EDMC. Overall, 83% of users clicked on an area of the page that would successfully lead them to more information about the colleges and universities in the network.

Brand Perception

We split the participants equally between brands and asked them to rate their perception of the brand before and after their experience with the site.

Brand Perception Pre-Task

In order to get a feel for the brand before their online experience, we showed participants an image of the homepage.

For the rating scale: 1 = Very Negative, 4 = Neutral, and 7 = Very Positive. We also included the option for participants to say they’re not familiar with the brand. Click on the image to enlarge.

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More than half of Laureate’s participants, 57%, said they were not familiar with the brand but still started with a fairly high brand perception rating of 5.1 out of 7. EDMC had less people say they weren’t familiar with the brand, 40%, and also had more people people rate their brand positively for a slightly higher starting brand perception rating of 5.4 out of 7.

Brand Perception Post-Task

After participants interacted with the sites we again asked them to rate their perception of the brand with the same rating scale: 1 = Very Negative, 4 = Neutral, and 7 = Very Positive. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Laureate saw an overall increase in brand perception after participants interacted with their site, ending at 5.3 out of 7 with 40% of participants giving them the highest ratings.

EDMC also saw an increase in brand perception, going up to a 5.8 rating out of 7 with an astonishing 73% of participants giving them the highest possible ratings.

Task Outcomes

In order to validate whether users were successful at finding information about campus locations, we asked participants which campus was located in San Diego, CA. If users answered correctly they were labeled as Success.

Non Success meant that a user either Abandoned the task due to difficulties with the website or chose an incorrect campus, which we labeled as Error.

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Success

Both websites saw a fairly high success rate for the task but participants were 13% more likely to successfully find information about campus locations on EDMC’s site than on Laureate’s.

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Not only were EDMC’s participants more likely to successfully complete the task, they were also able to do it in less time and with less page views.

Laureate user session

EDMC user session

Non Success

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Participants on both sites were far more likely to choose an incorrect campus than abandon the task while navigating the website. Users who abandoned the task on Laureate’s site actually spent more average time on the website than their successful participants while participants who erred tended to spend less time than the successful participants and end up one page short.

EDMC’s participants that erred actually spent more time on the site than their successful participants but often landed one page short from finding the map with the campus location information. For both sites, non successful participants spent more time looking at more general information about the types of campuses within the network.

Laureate user session

EDMC user session

Ease of Use

After the task we asked all the users to rate how easy or difficult it was to accomplish, with 1 = Very Difficult, 4 = Neutral and 7 = Very Easy. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Laureate’s participants ended up giving them an ease of use rating of 5.2 out of 7, with 50% of users giving them the highest ratings possible. EDMC, on the other hand, had a massive 80% of users give them the highest ratings which brought their overall ease of use rating to an impressive 6.3 out of 7.

User Satisfaction

After the task we asked all the users to rate how satisfied they were with the site, with 1 = Very Unsatisfied, 4 = Neutral and 7 = Very Satisfied. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Both Laureate and EDMC saw 10% of their participants rate their overall user satisfaction with the site as negatively. Despite this, Laureate’s users still ended up giving the company a 5.1 out of 7 with 43% of users giving them the highest ratings. EDMC’s users once more rallied to the company with 70% giving EDMC the highest possible satisfaction ratings for an overall rating of 5.7 out of 7.

Problems & Frustrations

We asked the users which, if any, of the following problems they encountered while on the site.

Laureate

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EDMC

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Net Promoter Score (NPS)

After participants interacted with the sites we asked them to rate how likely it was they would recommend them to friends, family or colleagues.

Users who rate this likelihood as low, 0-6 on the rating scale, are labelled as Detractors. Users that choose 7 or 8 are labelled as Passives and Promoters are users that rate the likelihood as 9 or 10. Click on the image to enlarge.

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With slightly more than double the amount of promoters than Laureate, EDMC once more pulled ahead with a final NPS of -30% versus Laureate’s -60%.

Conclusion

The winner this week is EDMC for having a higher percentage of users successfully find information on the website about the campuses, less overall problems and frustrations reported, as well as for having higher user satisfaction, ease of use, and NPS rankings.


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