Designing A Service To Allow People To View Qualifications Online

The project

The Skills Funding Agency decommissioned the legacy National Career Service site on ‘Direct Gov’ moving all its services on to GOV.UK.

This was an opportunity to redesign the site and conduct research to understand what users needed from a career service. The part of the National Career service I worked on was ‘Find my Qualifications.’

1:1 User interviews
Usability testing prototypes
Interaction design
Journey mapping

Discovery – Alpha

Primary users

People needing to access their school qualifications, eg when applying for a job


I needed to establish whether there was still a need for people to have access to their qualifications online. If proven I then would explore the best solution to allow people to do this.

As someone applying for a job, I need to prove that I have all the qualifications I said I have without having to pay for replacement certificates.

– Epic user need

Research objectives 

Through Discovery and Alpha we needed to understand:

•  If there was a need for users to access their qualifications digitally

•  Pain points in the existing journey

•  What solutions would best meet any needs identified

What I did

Conducted explorative interviews to understand the need around users accessing their qualifications

Journey map of the As-is to better understand the existing journey and the user pain points in it

Prototype testing of early design concepts

Explorative interviews

To understand whether there was a need for people to view their qualifications online I interviewed a range of users including:

•  People who recently left education

•  People looking for employment

•  People in employment

What I found was:

•  In most occasions people, particularly those who left higher education a number a years ago, no longer had their qualification certificates.

•  The main reason people had not retained their qualifications certificates was due to them no longer feeling like they were needed or they’d been misplaced, for example when moving house.

•  If people had misplaced their qualifications and needed them, they currently have to pay a fee per certificate.

•  The main reason people needed to get hold of their qualifications was when an employer requested them, for example to show proof of GCSEs

Journey mapping

Based on testing and interviewing users who had used the existing service, I mapped out the current journey and experience. Highlighting the opportunities for improvement.

Prototype testing early concepts

Based on our understand of what people needed from our service and the existing problems. I created concepts with the team to test with users.

Since we found that it was typically students and school leavers that had the greater need for the service I recruited:

10x participants who were students
10x participants who had lower digital skills
10x participants with a disability

We found:

Confusion with terminology – Participants did not understand what level 4 – 8 qualifications were.

Uncertainty over the legitimacy of adding your own qualifications – Participants had questions over how this would be verified and whether it could be misused if verification wasn’t there.

Did not notice the option to share their qualifications – Almost half of participants failed to initially notice the ‘share’ tab

Did not understand how to add a qualification – A few participants were confused on how they could add a qualification, a few expected to click ‘missing or incorrect qualification’ link. Participants also expect to see an option to add qualifications at the bottom of the page near ‘additional qualifications’.

Iterating the service

After rounds of testing I made the following changes to the design of the service:

•   It made it clearer which qualifications were ‘verified’ compared to qualifications people could upload themselves

•   The table was difficult for users to scan so I broke up the information by qualification type

•  We found that people might only use the service to search for one of their qualifications, we added a filter making it easier for users to find the qualification they’re looking for.

•  We established a need for people to share their qualification with employers, through a couple of rounds of testing and iterations we added in the functionality in the second tab to allow people to do this.