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Cidi Labs Template Design & User Testing

Cidi Labs, a tool that enables instructors to create custom page designs in Canvas, also allows administrators to create institution-wide templates. The Academic Technology Applications (ATAP) team wanted to create a set of templates for CU instructors to make Cidi Labs easier to use, and to improve the student experience in Canvas. They asked the Learning Experience Designers (LxDs) to gather data to inform the template design, and to perform user testing on the templates before launching.

The project created three templates based on that data, then tested the templates for usability with students, modifying where indicated. The templates launched at the start of the Fall 2019 semester. When template usage is established among instructors, student and instructor feedback will be gathered and utilized to modify templates if needed, as well as to create new templates if desired.


The LxDs started by surveying students whose instructors were already using the Cidi Labs tools. Homepages that students reviewed positively were used as the basis for ATAP’s three templates. These templates were then tested in-depth with student users and revised based on findings before launching.

Student Survey

  • 205 students surveyed from 5 courses
  • Insights:
    • Most students want easy access to what they see as the essentials: contact information, syllabus, schedule, homework, grades and lecture slides
    • Too much content on the homepage causes student confusion and impedes comprehension and navigation
    • More detail available in the full report.

In-Depth User Testing

  • 6 students tested for 30 minute sessions
  • Testing script utilized A/B testing and tree testing 
  • Card sort activity completed by testers after the fact
  • Insights:
    • Students respond well to custom graphics when tailored to the course. Generic or stock images were conversely appreciated but ultimately seen as wasted space on the page
    • Students are highly task-based when navigating a Canvas course, and don’t typically explore a course freely
    • Two students shared, unprompted, that they were glad OIT was testing their tools with students, and that they wished CU would do more user testing with software
    • More detail available in the full report.

Other Accomplishments

COLTT 2019 Presentation

Viktoriya Oliynyk and Rebecca Kallemeyn presented findings at 2019’s COLTT highlighting student needs for instructors using Cidi Labs. This included a brief handout on instructor best practices.

Instructor Recommendations

The recommendations provided at COLLT were expanded to include best practices in web navigation, and can be found on the ATAP Cidi Labs page.

Final Report

Details and expanded analysis of gathered data is available in the full report.

Project Participants

Rebecca Kallemeyn, Learning Experience Designer
Viktoriya Oliynyk, Associate Director of Academic Technology
Natalie Sharp, Academic Technology Consultant
Joseph Hegeman, Academic Technology Consultant
Maria Abramowicz, Graphic Designer
Irina Wagner, UX Graduate Assistant