Making a decision about where to send your child to school can be a complex process.
For this project, I was tasked with creating an app design for a product that helps parents decide on schools for their children. After reviewing the brief, I analyzed research data, and created an empathy map to understand potential users and prioritize their needs, which served as a visual aid in the design process.
Based on the project brief, the client needed help understanding how parents decide where to send their children to school. I used information from the provided interview transcripts, along with primary research to inform a product concept that would help maximize the number of adopters to their product and shows consideration to a variety of parents’ needs.
I analyzed 6 user interview transcripts from conversations with parents seeking out primary schools for their children. The quotes gathered from the interviews reflected the type of information parents relied upon in their process of choosing a school for their child, like their inner reasoning, guiding principles, thinking styles, and specific details about the schools.
"Reputation is important to me because at the end of the day it's based on the consistent quality of a school."
"It was important for me to believe in their whole approach to education. Philosophically, I was in tune with what they were saying at the school."
"Smaller class sizes were key. And it had to fit with my life and my schedule. I work full-time, so location
and hours are important"
Utilizing the affinity mapping technique, I organized quotes and discovered themes across each interview that I used to create an empathy map. Creating an empathy map helped me better visualize the parent’s attitudes and behaviors during their school search process which was used to guide my design process.
Based on the interviews, parents often called out that searching for schools was a very time-consuming process and fragmented information from multiple resources made it difficult to select a school without any reservations.
I learned that parents searching primary schools for their children needed a way to access information on multiple schools, such as location, cost, class sizes, facility offerings, curriculum, values, and related reviews because it’s a time-consuming and fragmented process when researching online.
After identifying a problem, I started to think through how an app design could help parents spend less time in their school search process while considering a variety of needs.
How might we structure information about a variety of schools to help parents save time?
I began to think about how the information parents want to know can be presented in a compact way; after learning that parents of primary school students spend a lot of time doing online research, attending open houses, and booking tours to narrow down and select a school.
In their final decisions, parents were highly influenced by the proximity of the schools location. While talking through my ideas, I kept landing on using the parents' desired location to display a list of schools in their area, however I wanted to ensure that parents were able to:
I sketched out how information on schools could be presented without overloading the parents and built 2 low-fidelity concepts to test with parents to learn about what information they would ideally like to see and what features would be of value to them.
This concept focuses on giving parents a birds eye view on all schools available based on their location to allow parents to explore all possibilities. It combines all primary school types, shows additional details on the school, and allows parents to quickly save schools to view later.
This concept focuses on giving parents the option to filter down the list of schools they see based on their location. The filters provided are based on the information parents consider in their school search process. It has additional steps in terms of interacting with the information displayed and requiring a sign-up to save schools they’d want to revisit.
I tested both concepts with parents who have gone through or were planning to go through a school search process, to identify what features are valuable when considering multiple schools. Participants highlighted the following points which helped inform the next steps for the mid-fidelity wireframes.
I used the insights from testing to create a visual that represented the ideal intended path a parent could navigate to accomplish reviewing and saving information on schools of interest.
The first iteration of the design displays multiple schools based on proximity, while allowing parents the ability to filter results and save schools to a centralized list after signing up. To show consideration to a variety of parents' needs, the information presented in the profile view and filter options reflect what parents from the user interview and concept testing look for or typically encounter when researching school options. On the school profile page, I organized information to clearly list the mission statement, core values, and teaching styles of the school because participants found value in being able to quickly find that type of information to narrow down their options.
This project ended up being a good exercise in making sense out of unstructured research data and using insights to help inform design that reduced the complexity of searching for information. In this challenge, I attempted to turn the idea of a defragmented and time saving process into a simple and usable product for parents.
For a 10 day sprint, the project has aspects that I was pleased with. The research process was fairly thorough, involving affinity mapping user interviews, creating an empathy map, and testing with participants.
If opportunity allowed, I would've liked to practice group ideation with my peers to generate more ideas. Also, with more time, testing the first mid fidelity recommendation with a navigation test would have been helpful in identifying drop-off points in the user flow that could be tackled, as well as any areas of confusion from test participants.