Sixty-thousand courses – detailed course information on every undergraduate degree in the UK – available to students in one place, is a great thing. Having to scroll through 60,000 courses on a mobile device? Not so great.
That was the first major challenge for the in-house product team when it launched its native app in September, last year: how to streamline the Whatuni site experience for mobile users.
To pull it off the design team looked at refining its Whatuni site search journey by employing chatbot technology in the form of a virtual assistant, the Higher Ed Research Bot (Herb for short). 6 months later and the Whatuni app has been downloaded from UK app stores over 10,000 times.
Up to and including March 27th 2018, Whatuni’s app has been downloaded 11,167 times from the App Store. It launched onto iTunes on 14th September 2017, with a subsequent Android launch at Christmas.
Designed by an in-house team Whatuni app showcases universities and courses from whatuni.com through a range of searches that can be personalised to the user via its virtual assistant feature. The app also enables the user to effortlessly order prospectuses, book open day places and contact universities directly.
Jonah Duffin, Chief Marketing Officer said: “We are thrilled with our download figures for the first 6 months of the app, which have far exceeded our initial forecasts. The feedback we have received from users has been both exceptionally positive and informative in terms of functionality that can be improved upon and features that can be enhanced in the future. Our next steps will be to action the feedback from users to drive the direction of the app and to scale up our campaigns in order to reach more users.”
Responses from 500 app users who were surveyed this month as part of the app’s six-month celebrations were particularly positive about the app’s proprietary chatbot, Herb, which, following its success on the app, and been extended on to Whatuni’s main site.
Marcella Collins, Managing Director explained: “In a recent survey, we were pleased to see that 43% of users cited the chatbot feature as either ‘very useful’ or ‘useful’ in narrowing their course options. This was tremendously encouraging, particularly as 70% of users agreed that they already had a fair idea of what course they would like to study before downloading the app; we’d like the chatbot to provide more guidance to those users who are not so certain.”
The app has also provided a lot of data from its users’ interactions to-date, all pulled from Google Analytics. For example, with courses and lecturers, university facilities and job prospects topping the list of priorities students consider when choosing a university according to the chatbot, Whatuni has been able to identify where the brand should concentrate its efforts and be able to provide insights for clients on how to better appeal to their market.
Marcella added: “One of the conversation routes within the chatbot is what we call a ‘discovery’ search, whereby the user is not set on a particular course and is open to course inspiration according to their favourite subjects or career aspirations.
“What’s telling is that 83% of users who go through this journey, choose to take the path of favourite subjects, as oppose to their already-held career aspirations. This, alongside job prospects as a top priority for students when choosing a university is indicative of an audience who want a course that inspires their career prospects, and not vice versa.”
Next iterations for the app will include clearing course functionality and will be available from 2nd July 2018. To take part in the user survey, please visit the form here.