My team was challenged with the task to reimagine and redesign the online learning experience.
Utilizing the Design Thinking process, I researched pre-existing online learning platforms, interviewed users of these platforms, developed prototypes for user testing and created and designed a front-end/back-end online learning platform called Elevate.
When crafting the research plan, my priorities entailed examining current online learning structures of various platforms. Additionally, it was pertinent to speak with current users. We wanted to get at the heart of users’ motivations, frustrations, and overall online learning experiences in order to investigate areas of opportunity.
The research started with competitive analysis. Using SWOT diagramming, we discovered the following insights:
Spectrum of Available Content: Current platform range from providing vastly available material to providing much more focused material. This was obvious when comparing Lynda.com material offerings versus a platform such as Codecademy.com, which focuses on development.
Spectrum of Assessing Knowledge Varied: Ranging from dense assessment testing tactics to no assessments, some platforms merely suggested “challenges” while other platforms required pre-test and post-test assessments.
Creating interview questions, I wanted to discover: motivations for using a platform, users’ goals of utilizing online learning, specific and unique experiences within certain platforms, wants and needs from the learning process, frustrations while working with a platform, and if users walk away from an experience feeling like they’ve fulfilled their goals.
Solely video/lecture-based learning is disliked
Users are willing to pay for lots of content
External factors are stronger motivators than
internal, platform based motivators
Individuals learn by doing
Users want immediate help from real people
Users seeking online learning are not gaining the necessary set of skills and knowledge to apply what they have learned to real-life situations.
Users need comprehensive lessons and projects available in one platform and feedback from real people.
Understanding the problem at hand, personas Shane and Isaiah capture the users with similar motivations, frustrations and experiences understood from the interviews that were conducted. Shane is the self-directed, motivated learner, while Isaiah is the academic deviant who has trouble committing.
I designed the following principles as the focus and set of guidelines for the product my team set out to create.
1. Learn by Doing:
Allow users to practice what they are learning in the format of comprehensive projects.
2. Application is Everything:
Give users real-world assignments so that they can apply what they learned within the platform and, more importantly, elsewhere.
3. Teach a Man to Fish:
Don’t hold the hand of the user. Provide users with the tools and knowledge so they can learn.
4. Real-Person Feedback is a Must:
Students should have a way to receive feedback on their work.
After establishing the main problem and understanding the design principles, I moved into the phase of brainstorming, ideating, prototyping, testing, and this became an iterative process.
My team and I sketched out concepts to accomplish the goal of a project-based platform.
A/B Prototype Testing
After sketches, my team decided to create two lo-fidelity prototypes that combined various part of each other’s sketches.
The two prototypes tested a user’s experience of starting a course in Front-End Development, finishing the first lesson in that course, receiving a project assignment, and completing and submitting that project. The prototypes differed in layout:
"I prefer the version that shows my progress (in the lesson)" - Brittany (User Tester)
"No idea what will happen when I press 'Sumbit Work.' Does that mean it is live?" - Nathan (User Tester)
"Can you send your notes to an instructor? Is a note for asking questions?" - Jordan (User Tester)
After gathering responses from initial user testing, I continued to iterate on a single prototype by combining concepts from both prototypes and integrating user's needs. This including solidifying the progress bar in a course, creating clear call-to-actions, and cleaning up the interface as a whole.
I conducted additional user testing on the iterated prototype. During this time, the UI designers began brainstorming the platform name and branding style. I worked closely with the UI team to execute the design below.
The final design was created by Nathan Wang