Case Study

 Education & Training Foundation

Education Training Foundation Logo

How research brought clarity and understanding for a user-centred digital roadmap

This research project focused on three core user groups, each having different needs for the website, to establish how to improve the usability and experience of the Education & Training Foundation’s digital estate.


The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) was established in 2013 with the charitable objective to improve the knowledge, skills and capabilities of learners aged 14 and over. With a membership of 22,000 Further Education (FE) professionals, ETF provides CPD training opportunities and resources to develop the FE and training sector.  

ETF set out to create a synergy within their digital estate (22 websites), making it easier for the end user to navigate and access their CPD. To accomplish this, the Digital Transformation Team highlighted that researching the user experience with customers would be key to building a meaningful digital roadmap.  

They approached Experience UX (EUX) to conduct a user research project to pull together insights on ETF’s customers relating to user experience that “Enable us to build products and services that are customer led and informed by research and evidence of user needs.” 


The main aspect of our approach was a usability test with ETF’s end users. Due to the nature of this proejct 


The project began with a series of workshops to understand the context of the 22 websites, their function, and their users. We held a weekly status meeting throughout the project to keep everyone informed of progress and to assess outputs of the many facets of work.  

We set about a three-month, multiphase research project to understand how to improve the user experience of ETF’s digital estate’s navigation, design, and content.  


We then embarked on the core phase of this work, an 18-person Usability Test, to understand the experience and needs of three key audience types. In this moderated, observational study our team assessed how users naturally navigate to content and tools, with a particular focus on how the various websites interlink from a user journey perspective.  

The research took place as one hour, one to one, depth interviews, which focused on watching participants use the live ETF websites to complete relevant tasks. People are often adept at telling us what they think, but the value of this approach comes from seeing what people do, where they hesitate, get lost, or hit a dead-end. This was particularly noticeable as users were required to move from one site to another.  

An important role of usability testing is to provide context to any finding. Understanding the usability issue as part of the user’s journey allows for meaningful conversations and accurate recommendations. The video footage from the testing can also be used to provide evidence for ongoing internal conversations.  


There were some clear challenges for ETF users when navigating through the digital estate. Some findings were obvious to notice, where users get a bit lost trying to find a suitable course. Other findings require deeper analysis, like the role of a ‘digital estate’ and the impact this has on the user experience.

The final report centred around 20 core recommendations, which described each finding and insight followed by a demonstration of best practice usability solutions.

Our report has been used to make quick-win improvements, and to support the roll out of wider projects including a new Learning Management System (LMS) and a back-end project to bring all websites into one Content Management System (CMS).  

“Experience UX’s  clear and concrete recommendations helped us focus on what we really needed to improve.”

Stuart March, Head of Information Management & Technology

It’s not often I get to test users across a large landscape and this project emphasises the importance of a user centred approach. By focusing on users, we and the ETF team have been able to bring clarity and direction to improving the whole digital estate.

 Emma Peters

UX Consultant

UX Consultant Emma Peters



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