Armstrong Interactive (AI), the senior capstone course of the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies, is a client-based consulting experience. AI contracts with corporate and non-profit clients to develop digital solutions to their operational problems. Over the course of one semester, a team of students, from disciplines as diverse as marketing, computer science, graphic design, communication, technical writing, management, and more, work with the client charge to develop a “live” solution to the client’s problem. This course is team taught by AIMS faculty.
Past AI projects have included:
- Prototype of a new intranet for Hulu
- Touch screen kiosks for Target stores
- Online training for HP
- Handheld application for Cintas
- Online training and certification for P&G
- Online dashboard for Convergys
- Web presence and e-commerce for Taft Museum of Art
- Strategic Business Recommendations for Bank of America
- Re-branding and New Web Presence for Petters Group Worldwide
- Usability and Redesign for uBid
- Visual Search Engine for P&G
- Interactive Donor Prospect Tool for Miami University
- iPad app for P&G
- Social Media and Game Campaign for Pringles
Pearson Learning came to AI with a problem. They had an excellent tool for organizing peer evaluations of teachers in the K-12 market called Pearson Compass Suite, but they were not seeing the conversion rates on their website be as high as they would like. They were also launching a new product into the suite that added leadership development and evaluation tools for principles and wanted to use the opportunity to reboot their web presence and marketing materials.
Throughout the semester, we leveraged Agile project management techniques (SCRUM specifically). According to that methodology, we broke the semester up into two week iterations. At the start of each iteration, students would commit to certain deliverables by the end of the iteration. Those deliverables would then be presented to the client for review. This methodology is employed at the leading interactive agencies and online product groups (Facebook, Inkling, etc.). It’s extremely helpful when navigating ambiguous waters because it fosters ongoing client feedback and allows for course correction fairly quickly.
During the first iteration, students broke into three teams and began doing research and evaluation. One team engaged in ethnographic research and interviewed actual teachers and principles to try to understand the problems they needed solving. Another team did market research and competitive analysis to see where Pearson Compass Suite sat in the market’s landscape. The final team conducted an eye-tracking study of the existing web presence.
During the next iteration, the class regrouped, reported their individual findings and began a brainstorming session on what they saw as the largest problems that needed to be solved. They then began a brainstorming session on how to solve them. They then crafted formalized a market research report, a new set of physical promotional materials, proposals for a new website and instructional videos that the client reviewed.
For the next several iterations, the students built a fully functional website in ColdFusion (the language Pearson uses for promotional website, which students taught themselves) using copy an images that they created. They also wrote, storyboarded and built four promotional videos that served as overviews of the different aspects of the product.
A few weeks after Spring Break, the site went live. Students tracked usage using Google Analytics. They also conducted another formalized usability test. Both informed a series of tweaks and adjustments that were made to the site.
As the semester wrapped up, the client reported a huge improvement in conversion rates and students tracked a 10x increase in usage compared to the previous promotional website. Students then proposed a series of strategies for SEO, a template for an email marketing campaign and
You can view the promotional website and videos here.