All Case Studies

Case Study: ADEA Program Finders

Client: American Dental Education Association (ADEA), Washington, DC
Project Year: 2022
Objective: Match dental students with the right dental program while encouraging member institutions to keep their program content up-to-date.

The Challenge

ADEA had an aging program directory with a challenging user experience and complicated editing experience. Representatives at their various member dental programs had a hard time being motivated to spend time keeping their program content updated. ADEA needed an all-around better experience for their staff, program partners, and prospective students searching for a dental program.

The Strategy

Building off of Bravery’s program finder UX, we knew we needed to talk to dental school staff and students who worked with ADEA’s existing directory to identify pain points. From this research, we set the strategy goals:

  1. Simplify Finding a Program: Dental students come from various backgrounds and locations. We needed to simplify matching their requirements with programs that fit the bill. A guided search and intuitive filters were the solution.

  2. Reduce Annual ADEA Workload: Staff at ADEA spent hours replying to emails and tracking down program partners to ensure content stays up-to-date. Bringing automation tools to play could help reduce the time spent on that work.

  3. Simple Content Maintenance: Some program partners spent hours updating their program listings on top of their regular work duties. Tools to bulk update repeated content and a UX that made editing content feel good were in order.

  4. Care for International Students: International students found applying to a US dental program complicated and frustrating. We helped standardize content and built tools to simplify finding a good match.

  5. Program Comparison: We heard that students researching dental programs kept comparison spreadsheets that they could refer to later. We built a favoriting and comparison tool to help them keep track of programs they like within the ADEA Program Finders.

  6. Increase Applications: ADEA’s Centralized Application Service (CAS) is the primary way students apply to dental schools. We built logical pathways and calls to action to apply within ADEA’s ecosystem.

The Outcome

The three Program Finders continue to see increased engagement from dental students. Dental school and ADEA staff have told us how much easier and more enjoyable maintaining content and the finder is. As we await word on applicant numbers for the past admissions cycle, it’s exciting to see the metrics around usage tick up.

Screenshots of mobile and desktop program finder breakpoints.

Lessons Learned

Human-centered design depends on research. Listening deeply and taking the time to understand the pain points felt by a wide variety of students and dental school staff helped us make effective design decisions that will continue to serve ADEA and the dental education community for years.

Wrapping Up

The ADEA Program Finders project was not only successful, it was a lot of fun. Our clients were true partners in this product’s design and development, and we’re grateful they allowed us to think bigger than the product they previously had.