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Redesigning the PSC's Internet gateway: Delivering a radically new online experience for Singaporean students

Background

When Singapore became self-governing in 1959, the country's new leaders realized the need to build a pool of civil service talent. The Public Service Commission (PSC) created a special scholarship program to find and groom future government officers. Students who received this award were required to serve in Government for a number of years upon graduation.

The Challenge: difficult online scholarship application

The PSC now administers its scholarship program through a website, where students apply for the undergraduate scholarships online. However, the application process itself was very difficult to complete and only continued to increase in complexity as the program grew in size and scope. In addition, new Web interface standards issued by Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (a government entity) had to be met. Based on user feedback, the PSC began a bold initiative to redesign this section of its website with a strong focus on user experience. The goal was to simplify the entire online application process and reduce the time needed to complete it.

HFI's Approach: strategic design review, recommendations validated with users

Human Factors International was engaged to conduct the redesign in two phases:

  • A strategic review of existing Web pages
  • A thorough redesign of online scholarship application

The strategic review highlighted complexities of the design and provided a benchmark for PSC stakeholders. For example, the navigation scheme forced users to finish a form before moving on to the next one. However, users often proceeded without filling out a form completely because they didn't have all the required information, only to discover that their previously entered data was lost.

The review also gave insight into the potential impact of HFI's design recommendations. Based on these findings, HFI redesigned every single page of the application – including graphical treatment – and tested them with sample users.

Benefits: streamlined application process

In collaboration with the PSC project team, HFI devised a new, clearer navigation scheme for the online scholarship process. The new design met PSC's goals:

  • Reduced time to complete the scholarship application
  • Increased accuracy and reduction in errors by end users
  • Technically feasible to implement given existing infrastructure

The entire project was also finished in advance of the scheduled completion date.

FMCSA

Before
People could not tell at a glance where they were in the application process, which parts had been completed and how many steps remained.

FMCSA

After
The new navigation container allows users to move sequentially or randomly between steps and save their data midway through a form.

Find out how HFI can improve your Web site or application.
Contact hfi@humanfactors.com or call 1-800-242-4480


“Human Factors International did a good job with the Web usability study for the PSC Scholarships application page. They were patient in understanding our needs and came up with practical solutions to meet our requirements. HFI's proposed redesign of our screens is both presentable and neat. The navigation mechanism is simpler and provides users with a better sense of control. Most importantly, it enhances users' experience with our scholarship application portal.”

Choo Lee See - Director, PSC Secretariat for Public Service Commission, Singapore

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