Liz Hall

New Media Designer

UI • UX • Visual • Interaction • HTML/CSS

Scholarships on Chegg

The easiest way to find money for college. Answer 4 questions and get scholarship results personally matched to you. Discover, save, and apply to scholarships.



This project was designed for desktop or laptop use.

Project Background

Scholarship search was a core product on Zinch.com, and drove a lot of new user acquisition. The scholarship database had thousands of awards worth over a billion dollars, but the experience of searching for relevant results needed a major overhaul. So, when Zinch was acquired by Chegg, scholarships was the first product to be rebuilt and redesigned on Chegg's platform.

Research

We started by asking high school students about their scholarship search experience. We asked about what sites they used, what the process was like for them, what their outcomes were.

We found out that a lot of students were overwhelmed by the scholarship application process. Popular scholarship search engines had onboarding forms that were long, tedious, and extremely personal. Scholarship results were confusing, and sifting through them to find relevant ones took a long time.

schols-competitors Competitor’s sites forced users through many pages of personal questions before any results were shown

Concepts & Design

We started wireframing various ideas and ran them through user testing sessions for feedback. We also tested messaging for the site and email campaigns.

schols-wireframes We used qualitative testing on wireframes like this one to figure out product direction

To onboard the user into the product, we created a short form with four of the most popular eligibility requirements. Users felt less intimidated by the product, and we were still able to find relevant results to show.

schols-onboarding 4 easy steps. Icons for each step turned green and reflected the data entered

We learned in our user research that huge numbers and stats don’t impress a student, and can actually be daunting. For example, we touted having $1.9 billion dollars in award money, but this amount comes across as nearly unfathomable to the student. When we showed list of 500+ results, the students saw a lot of work to do. So instead of a huge results list that needed to be pared down, we created a list of results that would start small and grow with additional data.

schols-topbar For scholarships, relatively small numbers make a big impact

We asked for personal information one question at a time, and allowed the user to choose which questions they were comfortable answering.

Results were shown in an accordion style list, allowing users to see eligibility requirements and matched data without going to a new page. Each result also had a compound button so users could quickly save or otherwise manage the listing.

schols-list Sample of interaction & style guide for the results list

Build & Test

We worked with our engineers to figure out which features could be completed on schedule for our first release. Once we had a functional prototype, we ran another session of user testing. Overall, the prototype went over very well with the students. Users were impressed with the simplicity of use and overall aesthetic of the product.

“Your website is functional, clear, organized and aesthetically inviting! I think I will continue to use this site in my college future.”
“Everything was easy to use and was very simple.”
“I plan to leave the college I am at for a full four year university soon, but that will require a LOT of financial help. Your site is very uncluttered and well organized for that.”
“After using this site, I am really likely to use this site over fastweb.com. My main scholarship site was fastweb.com but they have so many scholarships that I am not eligible for yet they show up on my account. It frustrates me to look through the list just to find scholarships that I am eligible for. I was eligible for almost all of the scholarships on the list on Chegg.com. Also, as stated before, Chegg.com is visually stunning and simple, much more than fastweb.com so it would make my scholarship hunting simpler.”

Some users were disappointed about the relevancy of results. Our matching algorithm was still a work in progress, and a few users were judging results by only their titles. These were good areas to begin improvements.

Next Steps

While our engineering team iterated on the matching algorithm, we looked into adding more parameters for application requirements beyond “no essay required” and “online application". This would give the user more power to find applications that were based on their skills.

schols-reqs Suggested filters for application requirements

We wanted to improve the “Best Match” filter by creating a weighted system for eligibility requirements. We would give more emphasis to matches with rare or unique requirements, like if the user was a certain heritage or attended a certain school.

We explored how to implement a feature that was popular in user testing: asking questions in a smarter, more integrated way. This would help strengthen the connection between new data entered and new results listed.

schols-questions Users liked knowing what they’d get for answering personal questions

We designed an animation to add to the numbers in the stats bar, which would call attention to them when they changed. And finally, we explored how to make the accordion preview pane more discoverable so students could quickly see how the scholarship matches them.

Conclusion

In summary, we ended up with a solid product for our first release due to testing early and often. The final result would have been stronger if we tested functional prototypes even sooner, giving us insights into interactions, flows, and data quality. Our users were still very excited about the launch of scholarships on Chegg, and we continue to iterate and improve on it.

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