User Studies

Find Out Why Your Prospective Students Do What They Do On Your Website.

Run qualitative research studies, specifically, user studies to better understand your prospective students' journey from awareness to an enrollment decision, so you can remove the friction and improve your yield.

Uncover Problems You Didn’t Know You Had

Through this study, we will highlight what the university is doing well and uncover potentially frustrating friction points preventing prospective students from continuing down the enrollment funnel. 

Our research will be anchored to your business problem and/or opportunity.  Our goal is to get actionable insights on why your college is losing prospective students, has lower than expected enrollments or re-enrollments (high drop rates), and/or bad online reviews.

Universities hire us to help them with:


  • University’s website experience
  • Submission form(s)
  • Thank you page
  • Lead nurturing process 
  • Application 
  • Orientation process
  • and more

User Studies / Qualitative Research Can Help to Improve Your:

  • Prospective student’s journey from awareness to consideration
  • Enrollment process and/or Financial aid process 
  • Student orientation
  • Re-enrollment process
  • Career Services 
  • Alumni Services 
  • Donor process

Based on the results of this study, your university will be able to better understand its prospective students’ desires, motivations, enrollment encouragers, and enrollment hang-ups in order to optimize its website(s) and marketing materials for increased enrollment.

Qualitative Services Offered

Our services will be anchored to your business problems and/or opportunity. Each project will have different goals and outcomes. 

Conducted 100% online, these user research studies focus on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback. methodologies. *They can be both Moderated and Unmoderated.

Participants meet with a researcher one-on-one to discuss topics around your potential product or service. These thoughts and feelings are collated and used to inform the direction of your product.

Establishing or auditing your student journey map is essential for identifying holes in your processes. A journey map is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. In its most basic form, journey mapping starts by compiling a series of user actions into a timeline. Next, the timeline is fleshed out with user thoughts and emotions in order to create a narrative.

Personas are vital to the success of a product because they drive design decisions by taking common user needs and bringing them to the forefront of planning before design has actually started. Personas provide the team with a shared understanding of users in terms of goals and capabilities. Once Personas are defined, going through a task analysis exercise with scenarios will offer an inexpensive way to test and prioritize features throughout the development.

Mystery shopping is a method used by marketing research companies and organizations that wish to measure quality of sales and service, job performance, regulatory compliance, or to gather specific information about a market or competitors, including products and services.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. Conversion rate optimization is important because it allows you to lower your customer acquisition costs by getting more value from the visitors and users you already have. By optimizing your conversion rate you can increase revenue per visitor, acquire more customers, and grow your business.

Our Approach To Qualitative Research / User Testing


Project Kick Off

This is the consulting phase. We can help you set up the goals and desired outcomes from this study. We can work with your team to get internal buy-in where needed, and get conscious on the study outcomes.


Setting Up the Study

In this phase, we document your desired testing outcomes and write user study scripts, tasks, outcomes. We handle organizing the user study, writing user study scripts, and performing the study.


Interpreting Results

Next, we pour over all the data collected during this study. We will look for insights, themes, and standouts in the data. We do this by watching the footage from the study participants, annotating the user's insights, editing 1-2 highlight reels, and writing up findings in a summary memo.


Present Findings

As we go through all of your data, we will present our findings and highlight reel(s) from the study(ies). You will be able to better understand your prospective students' desires, motivations, enrollment encouragers, and enrollment hang-ups in order to optimize your website(s) and marketing materials to increase enrollment or retention.

The EEC Difference

Over the past 20 years, we’ve done countless qualitative studies, technology evaluations, and set up usability and user-testing for schools. Over that time, we’ve amassed a unique set of skills and perspectives on students and technology. 

This is why our consulting clients have been coming back to us for the past 10 years and are constantly referring other schools to us.

We’re a full-service agency and we work to own your journey, always looking for ways to drive more qualified students into your enrollment funnel. We stay true to your through-line in everything we do, optimizing your entire enrollment process, revamping your marketing efforts, and reducing areas of friction to give you more loyal students who will want to refer their friends.

EEC Team

Getting Clarity On Your Burning Questions

Within every organization, the team is tasked with answering tough questions as to why their competitors are outperforming them, or why their enrollment yield is lower than expected, or if their marketing dollars and resources are being allocated the best way.
Through our consulting engagements, we get to the heart of your burning questions and get them answered. Most importantly, you will be able to make decisions and necessary changes from this research.
We follow a thorough methodology and document our entire process so you can feel confident in presenting our finds to your Board of Trustees.

Your University Needs Outside Expertise

University team members are often already so busy servicing students and supporting the university that they need outside consulting to help them accomplish these projects quickly. We are able to apply the learnings from over 250 consulting projects, and through that lens, we are able to provide recommendations and insights.

Working Outside Your Org Structure

We are able to uncover insights spanning different departments, which are often too challenging for schools to do on their own. We are able to create better student enrollment experiences or new student onboarding experiences because we are untethered to departments and personalities.

Reaching Your Goals with Data-Driven Strategy

We’ve been doing diagnostic marketing for 20 years — we dig into the data, ask the right questions, tap into trends, and gather insights to clarify your story and find your throughline.
Having worked with universities just like yours, we have gathered valuable insights that we will share with you. We are also firm believers that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, so we carefully track your results to help you achieve your goals.
Our goal is to make qualitative studies more data-driven so you can feel confident to act on the findings.

We’re more than an agency — we’re your Growth Partner.

We are a group of innovators rooted in the complexities of education — we know your jargon, and  we know how challenging the education space can be.  And we consider ourselves your growth partner.

While we’re a boutique agency, we deliver big results for universities and colleges. Our roots are in higher education lead generation and enrollment optimization with initiative strategies to improve yield. Our work has ranged from small private universities up to Tier 1 large state university systems — and everything in between.

Our Process for User Studies


Marketing Performance Assessment

During our kick-off call, we will identify what you want to accomplish with your user study. 


We will prepare a proposal outlining the goals of the study based on the business decisions you seek to make from the study.  This way we can make sure we are extracting the right information from the user study. Our studies are rooted in answering your most burning questions.

EEC Process 1

Action Plan

Get a detailed execution plan (roadmap) for how we can achieve your goals. Once you approve of the process we will continue to the next step.  


Custom Strategic Roadmap


Prepare Research Design

Before we begin testing, we complete the following: 

EEC Process 4

Collect and Analyze Data

In this phase, we do the following:

  1.  We kick-off the project and gather the needed data to provide insights and recommendations.
  2.  We watch your entire study footage and annotate the user's insights.
  3. We edit your highlight reel so you can visually see your students going through the study.
  4. We draft your summary deck of observations, along with a set of actionable recommendations regarding where you need to transform your marketing, enrollment, or retention function to unlock growth. (The bulk of the project)
  5. Write up findings in a summary memo.


Highlight Reel
Summary Memo
Summary Deck


Execute Recommendations to Accelerate Growth

The time is now to apply the recommendations and dramatically accelerate your growth. If we can uncover the student’s “why“, then we can adjust your communicating strategy, imagery, messaging, website flow, and so much more to positively impact the student’s experience and delight them.


EEC Process 5

The True Value of User Studies

Through our innovative Higher Ed User Studies, you will be able to find out what your visitor’s true feelings and thoughts are as they engaged with your brand and website experience.

Was this person able to accomplish their task? Why or why not?

You will be able to find out what motivated him or her to learn more about your school in the first place. What were their thoughts of your school before visiting your site and what were their thoughts after visiting your website? Has it changed? How has it changed?

Once we’ve completed your user studies, you will receive a highlight reel. This highlight reel can become just as important to your organization as the journey map. Imagine how much empathy you can foster within your team and organization by sharing your prospective or current students’ thoughts, motives, aspirations, and friction points. You can also use these highlight reels when onboarding new staff, so they have more understanding and develop empathy for your students and their challenges.


How are your user experience
contributing to your company’s growth?

Schedule a brief discovery call to receive a complimentary consultation for your business.