Unite Students

A comprehensive discovery, user research and design project for one of the UK's largest suppliers of private student accommodation

We undertook a comprehensive research project to interrogate the Unite Students booking experience. This then developed into a high fidelity prototype and rebuild of the online booking journey with a much slicker, and clearer experience for its users.

What would give their students the best booking experience?
A screenshot from the Unite Students Booking Journey

Solving a problem

A UK market leader in the world of private, purpose built student accommodation, Unite Students were keen to put students in complete control of their accommodation needs.

Unite Students wanted to understand what students want when booking their accomodation. Do they require date flexibility? What would give their students the best booking experience? Do international students, (a large proportion of their audience) want something different to domestic students?

Using various methods of user research, we were briefed to capture this information and present back within a very tight timeframe. Later on, after we reported our findings, the brief was extended to include the design of a brand new online booking flow. It was important that this was done quickly as our work needed tie in with a strategic IT project happening simultaneously within the wider business.

Where to start?

Unite Students knew that there were some issues around their booking journey but were relying on assumptions and hearsay.

They knew that there were elements of the booking flow which were overly complex and were confusing prospective students, particularly those coming from overseas. We decided to interrogate the entire booking experience and questioned everything about how students approach booking accomodation - for example, what flexibility do they require around dates and availability. Do they want to compare rooms against each other and is it easy to extend a stay.

Adam BP
Managing Director

The range of quantitative and qualitative research methods used on this project gave us a really detailed and in depth understanding of the student accomodation booking experience.


The project

For the initial research project, we ran a three stage comprehensive research project to understand the all of the factors (on and offline) involved with booking accommodation through Unite Students.

In round one we undertook discovery work. For this we interrogated analytics and historic survey data and undertook both call centre listening and depth interviews with the customer service team. All of this gave us a great insight before we spoke to the students directly.

During round 2 we conducted depth interviews and user testing on four groups of students These groups included existing students (domestic and international) who’d booked accommodation before plus a group of year 12 students planning for their future university experience.  We found that there was a lot of confusion around certain elements of booking journey and interestingly, that the confusion varied by student type.

We also ran an ideation workshop with the team at Unite Students. This allowed us to fully understand and get under the skin of the business. Over the course of a ½ day we watched research highlights, challenged some of their business perceptions and formed the findings into next steps for the design and prototyping of the new booking flow. The build, which is the final round of the project, is now being worked on by their inhouse development team.

Geoff Meston, UX & Design Manager
Geoff Meston
UX & Design Manager
Unite Students

Adam and his team at Natural Interaction undertook a key UX research project for Unite Students, under extremely tight deadlines.

Not only did they work at pace and guarantee to deliver on schedule, the quality of the research and comprehension of our business were both exceptional. We are very pleased with the output and the detailed level of insight gained. I would highly recommend Natural interaction and will certainly be using them again in the future.



Watch this space, this is a recent project and we’re excited to see how it delivers.

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