CUED-IN, College & University Education Decision - Intelligence, is a compass to help navigate the complex world of college decisions with a goal to reduce student loans and confusion regarding college financing.
IN 2015, Harrisonburg, Virginia startup CUED-IN came to Seadev with a vision to help students make more informed financial decisions about college through the use of an interactive college cost calculator and online community. CUED-IN had the idea but needed help developing the strategy and technology to bring the idea to life.
For our initial engagement with CUED-IN, Seadev provided business development consultation, market research, and brand identity design to enable CUED-IN to introduce a limited feature website for the purpose of securing additional investment capital. Following the success of our MVP (Minimum Viable Product) strategy for their beta website, we developed a college comparison and search tool on CUED-IN’s website, creating a better user experience than the US Government-managed College Scorecard website. In parallel with technology development, Seadev implemented an online marketing plan for CUED-IN inclusive of blog article content planning and social media marketing. And in 2017, we further boosted CUED-IN’s evolution by developing a custom mobile app and corresponding website enhancements to fully realize the reach and impact of CUED-IN’s mission.
Instead of spending months building a product that people do not want, we developed a strategic road map of iterative product releases. This allowed CUED-IN to release to customers’ as fast as possible while gathering feedback for future releases. Our objective with CUED-IN is to continuously test the vision and adapt as users’ needs and interests are uncovered.
The first release of CUED-IN’s website was in the form of an online knowledge sharing community. The website included a blog, forum, and Q&A section. The second public release of the website included a search interface and college comparison feature that allows students to search and compare their top-choice schools, therefore gaining greater insight into costs and outcomes of their future degrees. The third release spotlighted the new CUED-IN mobile app.
CUED-IN needed to establish itself within the academic realm, thus a social media campaign was launched prior to the release of the website. The campaign aimed to identify CUED-IN as a thought leader and build a loyal fan base through sharing tips, resources, relevant news and blog articles. With the completion of the second release of the website, Seadev adapted the social media strategy to also include promoting CUED-IN’s interactive forum and college comparison and search tool in a fun and engaging way across multiple social media channels.
Following CUED-IN’s initial successful website launch, beta-testing showed that the functionality of CUED-IN was highly valued and desired by schools and students. However, user testing also informed the team that its target audience, high school-aged students, now rarely use desktop computers for web browsing or email for communications. Instead, they’re relying almost entirely on mobile devices. In order for CUED-IN to effectively engage its target audience it needed a different approach. Seadev solved this challenge by developing an easy to use mobile app which integrated CUED-IN’s website content with features such as messaging for for college advisory counselors to communicate with students and content updates including available local scholarships and resources for browsing nationally available scholarships. The students’ counselors can now see which students are using the app and its features and proactively reach out to them with specific scholarship recommendations and other advice. Students can also use the app to access details on universities including location, tuition, student body size, enrollment application deadlines and more, and save the universities and scholarships they’re interested in for further exploration.