Iterating the Prosper portal – what’s new for summer 2021?
Posted on: 21 May 2021 by Catherine Kennedy, Prosper Communications Manager in Blog posts
Back in 2019 when Prosper began, stakeholder feedback and co-creation were baked into our core objectives for how we would develop this new approach to postdoc career development. We knew that if we wanted to achieve our goals of revolutionising the postdoc career development environment, we would need to build Prosper in a way that was driven by insights from postdocs, PIs and employers alike from day one if we were to provide what they really needed.
Unlike many structures for project delivery, whereby the entirety of a project is geared towards one, final output, we set ourselves ambitious targets to deliver key outputs as early as 6 months into our 3.5 year funding. The first of these was the Prosper portal – a set of resources for both postdocs and PIs, aimed at enabling postdocs to first reflect on, and then take action to explore multiple career pathways.
Responding to postdocs’ feedback
Since its launch, we’ve been busy testing out the portal and its resources with postdocs across our 3 partners – as well as launching at the University of Liverpool last summer, specially selected groups of postdocs at both the University of Manchester and Lancaster University have had early access to the portal too. The feedback we’ve received has informed this latest version of portal now available.
12 months later, we’re now launching the Prosper portal 2.0, its second iteration with a raft of user experience improvements and updates based on feedback from postdocs across our 3 partner institutions.
This version of the portal is available now to research staff at the University of Liverpool, and will launch at Manchester and Lancaster in July.
Postdoc case studies
The portal is now home to 18 case studies from former postdocs. Our aim with these case studies has always been to carefully curate and present a range of stories that show the true breadth of careers beyond academia available for postdocs.
Furthermore, we want to demonstrate the options open to postdocs that might not at first glance look like an obvious next step. So whether it’s Dr Al Mathers’ move from a Landscape Architecture PhD to becoming Head of Research at the UK’s leading digital social inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, or Dr Dotun Olowoporoku, now Associate Investment Director at Novastar LLP, with a postdoc background in Environmental Policy, what matters is that we show postdocs the huge variety that’s on offer for them when they know where, and how, to look.
We understand that users want to quickly find the content they’re interested in, and our case studies are no different. To aid this, the case studies homepages now feature a filter function, where users can filter by both disciplinary background and former postdocs’ current sector. Case studies also now state when they were conducted.
One theme that has come out of postdocs’ feedback so far is that while the portal represents a wide range of resources, both the length and breadth of these can be tricky to navigate.
We’ve taken the following steps to improve this:
- Each page now contains an estimated reading time, allowing users to understand quickly if particular content is a quick read, or something that needs more time to engage with. An ‘On this page’ summary is also now available on all pages, providing an at-a-glance overview so postdocs can make quick decisions as to whether the content fits what they’re looking for.
- Longer pages now contain a sticky table of contents. These give an overview of sections within a page, and allow users to jump straight to sections of interest.
- A "next-steps" section has been added to the bottom of each page, signposting users to content they may wish to explore next. We hope this will be particularly useful – while postdocs may like to dip in and out, the portal resources are designed to be sequential, with each subsequent section building on insights gleaned from previous tools and examples.
- Improved search functionality enables users to search for keywords and phrases that appear anywhere on the site, including within case study transcripts.
Given that one of Prosper’s 3 pillars is democratisation of access, it would be remiss of us if we didn’t continue to improve the accessibility of the portal.
Previous visitors to site will notice these improvements in this area:
- We’ve redesigned the layout of longer, text-heavy pages, making them easier to read.
- All case studies and interviews now have a full transcript below videos, removing the need to download this a separate PDF.
- We’ve improved page structure and typography in order to make long-form content easier to consume.
Ongoing feedback and co-creation
This updated version of the portal certainly isn’t the last.
As we launch at the University of Manchester and Lancaster University this summer, we’ll be spending the next 12 months gathering feedback, refining our existing resources and co-creating new ones with postdocs, PIs and employers alike.
For now, we’re looking forward to hearing what you think about these recent updates. Leave us feedback on the embedded forms at the bottom of each page on the portal, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org