Shaping myfuture: The role of research, feedback and expert advice
myfuture has recently launched a refreshed website with a new look to offer users a better experience. For two decades, myfuture has created and disseminated a vast array of career information to millions of Australians.
myfuture is entering its third decade against a backdrop of increased economic uncertainty, high youth un- and under-employment, and emerging risks and opportunities related to automation and technology. It’s more important than ever to empower young Australians to develop career management skills.
Funded by state and territory governments, and supported by tertiary institutions and industry, myfuture plays an important role in helping young Australians to shape their futures.
We used feedback from users and advice by experts to inform the changes to our website.
- We surveyed and interviewed over 1500 teachers and career practitioners.
- We reviewed over 650 help desk enquiries.
- We took on board suggestions from over 650 attendees of myfuture’s regular professional development sessions.
- We surveyed over 1,000 young people.
- We invited experts in career development, student equity and authors of major reviews of career services in Australia to review myfuture and make recommendations.
- We consulted with stakeholders from state, territory and federal governments.
- We hosted a forum for over 50 government, career development and education sector stakeholders to generate guiding principles about opportunity awareness, equity and evidence-based career development practice.
Following extensive consultation, co-design opportunities, internal analysis and multiple-lens external reviews into myfuture’s current provision and usage patterns, it became evident that some enhancements to the service were required to meet the needs of students and their influencers.
What the research told us
1. The need for high-quality, reliable online career information
When integrated into the broader provision of career learning, a career website can be an invaluable resource. Research revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents described myfuture as a ‘trusted and reliable source of career information’. External reviewers found the provision of content on the site fit-for-purpose. They identified My career profile and the Career bullseyes as examples of good practice.
2. Alignment to best practice
Since its launch in 2002, myfuture has continuously evolved to meet the needs of its users. It has become increasingly targeted to support the career decision-making capabilities of students and provides targeted resources for key influencers. The research recommended continued alignment to best practice and improvements to the user experience for the three audience groups:
- teachers and career practitioners
- parents and carers.
3.Opportunities to improve the user experience
User-centred design approaches were used to understand the needs of myfuture’s existing users, as well as future users. Insights gathered through navigation studies, interviews and surveys, as well as from website analytics and myfuture’s database of registered users, improved our understanding of each user’s journey and their information needs. We discovered that users wanted more personalisation, simpler language and more connections between different sections of the site. We also learnt that the login and registration experiences could be more intuitive.
4.Ways to facilitate easy navigation
Teachers and career practitioners told us they incorporate myfuture into their career development and education practice in different ways:
- In a classroom, overseen by a specialist career practitioner
- In a classroom, overseen by a non-specialist educator
- In 1:1 or 1: many careers counselling sessions, involving guided usage of the My career profile activities
- To locate relevant resources for teachers or career practitioners
- To locate relevant resources for parents or carers
- Used by students, to complete homework and activities, instructed by a teacher or career practitioner
- Used by students at home, guided by a parent
- Used by students independently, without any prompting by an adult
myfuture contains over 17,000 pages of targeted career information and one key recommendation was to make it easier to locate resources. Career insights (articles which share tips and advice) and Case studies (careers stories from young people about their career pathways) were identified as important areas for improvement.
5.The importance of supporting all students to discover new opportunities
myfuture aims to provide all young Australians with equitable access to career information. Research indicated the importance of supporting all students to make informed choices and to become effective navigators of their careers. It identified that myfuture’s strengths lie in:
- raising awareness of the importance of interests and passions
- providing a broad view of possible careers
- sending clear messages that life and careers are not a linear journey
- supporting students to explore core concepts and career-related language.
Research also identified opportunities to improve myfuture’s offering to support young people to build their navigational skills and self-confidence in exploring possible career options.
6.Ways to increase engagement with key audience groups
Research highlights the importance of career awareness and exploration for students from an early age to ensure they don’t unwittingly narrow their career pathway choices. As previously discussed, career websites can be a valuable tool to integrate into the broader provision of career education. Research and feedback identified opportunities for myfuture to increase engagement with key audience groups, provide more customised information and help students discover options they might not have previously considered.
User-centred design and development
Users are at the centre of myfuture’s redesign and development.
A set of personae – fictional characters created to represent a range of myfuture’s users – was developed to inform our decision-making for the recent changes. We built a picture of these characters’ lives, interests, schooling experiences and career information needs. The same personae were used as a discussion tool to explore usage patterns and gather feedback from teachers and career practitioners.
Guided by these personae and the recommendations we collected, we worked collaboratively with myfuture’s users, external experts, technologists and myfuture’s Strategic Reference Group to iteratively design, develop and test hypotheses and solutions, and refresh the site’s interface. User feedback, collected through surveys, interviews and testing, continued to inform our decisions and priorities throughout the process.
What has changed?
Our research told us it was important to not remove any of myfuture’s valuable features. Hence, myfuture's updated website retains all of its high-quality, unbiased career information and personalised resources, but with a fresh new look and structure.
Recent changes include the following:
- A new menu structure, aligned with career development frameworks, makes it easier for myfuture’s three key audience groups to find relevant resources.
- Our new My favourites section allows users to collect favourite content throughout the website. In addition to occupations and courses, users can now save industries, career stories and articles.
- myfuture's new Glossary page covers key terms used on the website. Linked terms are highlighted and defined throughout our content and resources to improve accessibility.
- Users new to myfuture can quickly learn more about the service and its key features on our new Get started page.
- Tips, suggestions and detailed descriptions have been added to highlight important resources and encourage students to uncover information and career options they may not have previously considered.
- The Case studies and Career insight sections have been renamed Career stories and Career articles. Filters have been added to these pages to improve search results.
- New content provides more information about the future of work, vocational education and training (VET) and alternative career pathways, and the site’s range of video resources and images continues to expand.
Of existing myfuture users surveyed during testing, 80% told us that the new website was ‘easier’ or ‘significantly easier’ to use than the existing site.
’Everything in the one place! Thank you.’
‘I am both a teacher and a parent of high school students. I will be suggesting my children have a look at this site in the coming weeks/years when career pathways are discussed.’
‘A really rich source of information presented in an accessible and engaging way. This is so valuable.’
Surveys will continue to be available on the website for users to provide feedback on the changes, and we’ll use this feedback to keep improving the service.
Best practice research methods have informed the recent changes made to the site as part of myfuture’s commitment to user feedback, a strong evidence base and continuous improvement. Through continued close collaboration with users and stakeholders, myfuture will continue to provide a high-quality, national career information service that evolves and continuously improves to meet the current needs of school communities.
Education Services Australia would like to thank myfuture’s users and stakeholders– and especially those who provided support, advice and feedback during the development of the recent changes.
To download this paper and explore other papers in the Insights series, visit www.myfuture.edu.au/assist-others/insights
Watch the Shaping myfuture webinar which relates to the insights paper https://myfuture.edu.au/assist-others/webinars
Got a question? Contact us via the myfuture website www.myfuture.edu.au
Publication may be cited as: Education Services Australia (2020). Shaping myfuture. myfuture Insights series. Melbourne, Education Services Australia
References and further reading
Hooley, T. (2020). Online career information and career development. myfuture Insight series. Melbourne, Education Services Australia
Vernon, L. & Drane, C. F. (2020). Making career decisions: How influencers can help. myfuture Insight series. Melbourne, Education Services Australia
Webb, S. (2019). Exploring post-school education and training. myfuture Insight series. Melbourne, Education Services Australia
Australian Government, Digital Transformation Agency (2020). User research. https://www.dta.gov.au/help-and-advice/build-and-improve-services/user-research
General Services Administration, Office of 18F. (2020). Personas. https://methods.18f.gov/decide/personas/