Using human-centered design to “rise above the noise”

Strategist says college and university messaging should help prospective students become better engaged with institutional mission.

human-design-studentsNo amount of CRM or marketing tech wizardry can overcome or compensate for messaging that doesn’t resonate.

Historically, as unemployment goes down, the number of people seeking additional training through graduate and adult education programs flattens or even declines, and competition for those students increase. A mistake many institutions make is to adopt techniques of their strongest competitor, resulting in multiple institutions all saying the same thing about their product.

We can call this idea of many programs shouting the same thing at the same prospect pool “noise”.

These institutions would be better served by working to understand who they are, what makes them different from their competitors, who their current and prospective students are and what those students need. Then, the program can be positioned to speak to those people in a way that resonates instantly.

Understanding your user’s needs is something that goes beyond technology; for example, a new website might be in order, but it’s just a delivery mechanism. Resonant messaging, the kind that helps prospects know whether your program will help them reach their goals, is the result of human-centered design: of taking a disciplined, structured approach to understanding who your customer is and what their decision factors are.

(Next page: How to achieve human-centered design for students)