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IDP Education & IELTS

Design Thinking & Prototyping for IELTS, the most respected English test system in the world

Category: Design SprintEducation
Scope of work: Design SprintDesign Strategy & ConsultationUser ResearchUX DesignPrototypingTesting & Validation
Product: IELTS Essentials Website
IELTS logo
IELTS has been testing English language for more than 25 years and is the most recognised in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

Following a comprehensive brand and market research, IELTS identified critical challenges in maintaining customer trust and the perception around its brand due to rising competition in the English language test options available to its market. Relab was approached to assist with the UI/UX Design Strategy, specifically on improving the IELTS Essentials website platform - an IELTS website dedicated for training and practice resources.

The user needs

Although there are many user groups within the IELTS ecosystem, we encouraged the business to focus on the most important personas that IELTS Essentials is to serve. Upon consultation, we came down to 2 types of personas:

“The Nervous Tester”, who is at the beginning of their study/migration journey. Their perception of IELTS is based on what they’ve learned or heard from their peers. These testers have no experience on how hard or easy the test is and they often come with a study & exam mentality.

“The Desperate Tester” on the other hand has had a fair share of experience on English tests. They are typically pursuing a visa and tend to be in a survival mode. They will continue to sit the test to get the score.

Ultimately both have common goal, which is to be better equipped to prepare for the test and improve their band score, so that they can live or work permanently (in Australia, UK, Canada or the USA) for a better future.

The business needs

IELTS was well aware of the increasing competition in the English langage test system market. Therefore the goal for this assignment was for the IELTS Essentials website to help make IELTS easy to access, transparent and supportive to the testers in an authentic way - that it convinces them to take, switch to or stick with IELTS as their preferred English test.

Strategically the business see an opportunity to increase user engagement on the IELTS Essentials website by implementing a new website information architecture, updating key page designs, providing new test taker support content and amplifying new brand messaging that supports the proposition.

Given the rapidly evolving market, the IELTS require a speedy solution that will allow them to test this hypothesis, without having to spend too much time in research, design and development. The business needed a way to be reassured and gain confidence on their case prior to investing further for the future.

Understand the landscape, align the vision, co-design the solution and go directly to the user for a brutally honest feedback.

Early on the Relab strategy team quickly identified that the project challenge was going to be complex due to various stakeholder needs. After clarifying business needs, we advocated for a 2 week Design Sprint process that allowed us to rapidly come up with high fidelity prototypes in a short period of time and test it on the two user groups; the “Nervous” and “Desperate” testers.

On week 1, we used Design Thinking principles to understand the problems and gather stakeholder aspirations. Week 2 was dedicated to co-designing solutions, rapid prototyping and testing it on real users. Throughout the action-packed 2 week process, both Relab and IELTS team from IDP Education worked collaboratively while involving senior stakeholders to validate decisions and solutions. At the end of the 2 weeks, the IELTS team saw alignment and confidence around ideas worth executing based on real and honest user feedback.

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Wireframe to high fidelity prototype
Strategic Design
problems, unveil opportunities, drive efficiency

A productive design discovery process with an agenda that delivers tangible results.

High fidelity prototypes worth investing into

High value outcomes with prototypes and design files prime for technical development handover.

User interviews

Objective & measurable feedback

Get honest thoughts from real users to inform business decisions.


Impactful conversion metrics

The website was launched and it quickly saw great results on booking conversions and user engagements only within the first month.

IELTS test booking metrics up by 30% roughly equating to AUD$147K
Conversion rate up by 48% and bounce rate down by 7.5%
Average user engagement session duration up by 14%
Within a very short time-frame, Relab’s expertise in leading us through their design sprint process, quick understanding of our business goals as well as their creative talent, provided us with a design solution that we’re very confident to take into market.
Jac TangDigital Marketing Manager, IDP Education

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