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I have a challenge of presenting a list of college degrees with basic information on each degree for the user to choose 1 or more that they are considering.

The old version of this application was just a drop down list of the choices. There are about 100 degrees to choose from.

The stakeholders want something more with this new version. They want the information to be engaging & informative since the target users are students who have been accepted but haven't started yet and may still be undecided as to their final college destination.

I have created a few mockups I think would be more engaging as well as serve in educating the student and accomplish the goal of gathering information on the student's degree interests.

I'm a developer, not a designer and I'm not sure if I'm just falling for the glitzy ways websites present information such as using a carousel (are carousels effective) or infinite scrolling (is infinite scrolling justifiable) and would really like to know if any of the mockups would strengthen the end goal or detract and if so how to approach the problem instead.

List View enter image description here

Carousel (User has full control over moving it) enter image description here

Infinite Scroll enter image description here

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I’d go for the infinite scroll option but rather than a graphic for each course I’d create a div containing

Course name Description - the first 200 characters of the course description followed by … Small Thumbnail of tutor A more info button.

More info button should link to the full course description in a modal window. Add a close button to the modal window. Users can then quickly navigate between each course.

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Any reason you would use infinite scroll? Why would you use Degree Name with a brief paragraph or so of what it is vs. a picture of the degree with it's name as an "inviting" intro? –  klabranche Oct 16 '12 at 21:50
    
You said there were 100 degree courses. I can see from your wireframe you have 5 catagories so i'm guessing user will have to scroll perhaps approx 20 courses for each catagory. Scrolling isn't such a problem these days, people are used to it from using facebook, twitter etc. You will probably find that the page fold will be positioned on a line of text or an image so users will know to scroll to see more. –  Mark Christopherson Oct 17 '12 at 9:31
    
Regarding your other point - I think you will struggle to find pictures that accurately represent each of the 100 courses. They will take up a lot of space and be of little or no value to the user. If you do want to add an image I'd add a small image of the lead tutor with perhaps a link to a biography. You mentioned a inviting intro, I agree that would be better than the first 200 characters of the course description if you have that copy available to you. –  Mark Christopherson Oct 17 '12 at 9:32
    
Thanks for the feedback. We do have photos for each Degree (not course) although I do agree that not all really convey the degree well but some do. We also do have a pretty good copy for each degree. I do agree that text will likely more quickly convey information of value to a student but I think it will loose the marketing sheen they are looking for. I think I will try it both ways and see what a test group thinks would be better. Thanks for the dialogue. –  klabranche Oct 17 '12 at 15:13
    
no probs hope it all goes well –  Mark Christopherson Oct 17 '12 at 16:39
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This is a common problem for education websites that have a large portfolio of offerings that you need to let your user wade through.

My preferred approach is to define meta-data about all of your offerings and then supply them with an easy-to-use filtering mechanism so that they can easily identify one or more properties that signifies what they are interested in.

The trick is to come up with a taxonomy that makes it possible to narrow the results to a manageable number after only 1-2 filters.

I would devote more time to making a taxonomy that is truly descriptive of the offerings you have, and make a UI element that is easy to quickly change filters.

I would have the results displayed in a way that is very easy to quickly scan. Limited text and graphics but they key points that is relevant to the user. These outcomes could be the type of degree, the offering academic unit, cost, location, etc.

For me the main issue is quickly reducing the number of results to less than 10 because otherwise it becomes far too many elements for the user to quickly evaluate. And when you come down to it, for most users, there are only 2-3 programs that are TRULY a prospect for. So any solution that has a low signal/noise ratio is going to be less effective.

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