Case Study

Building Community Bonds In Public Schools

Solo Project

Duration - 1 Month

Project Overview

Problem

Communication, feeling of community and parent involvement are integral to a child's early education success.


However there currently isn't one communication app which does everything well for parent/teacher communication. Some are better with visual communication, some with text.


Challenge

Design a product for parents, that gives them what they need to be involved in their child's educational experience, without the shortcomings from other apps.

Parameters

  • Created native iOS application

Deliverables

  • Competitive analysis & research
  • User surveys & analysis
  • Creation of user personas & stories
  • Design of of user flows & interfaces
  • Creation of low & high fi wireframes
  • Branding & logo creation
  • User prototype testing

Tools Used

  • Sketch
  • Google suite
  • Draw.IO
  • Invision

Final Hi-Fi Prototypes

updated message hub updated homework hub updated home

A communication app for school teachers and parents, helping foster stronger community bonds through parent involvement, leading to a better educational experience for children.

Market Research

What are parents using now?

shutterfly
55%

Shutterfly Sites

The Good

  • Big market share, tech support, name recognition
  • Great when you need pictures
  • App And Website Access

The Bad

  • Messages don't always make it to user, or are cut off before the end
class-dojo
34.5%

Class Dojo

The Good

  • Solid brand backed by science
  • Widely used and can pair with home use
  • Great for text notes

The Bad

  • To pair with use at home isn't free
  • Isn't great if you need more than a text based message sent
email
58%

Regular E-mail

The Good

  • Existing product most people use
  • Can send wide range of files, size permitting
  • Consistent delivery

The Bad

  • Nothing special or unique to market

Key Market Takeaways

Despite having the widest usage and great when pictures are needed, Shutterfly is problematic when sending text. Class Dojo is the opposite, excelling with text but not as strong for photos. E-mail is incredibly versatile, but the fact everyone uses something else for school, speaks to the desire for a market specific product.

user research

What is most important to the users?

76%

Believe simplified communication app can be a part of building a stronger community.

83%

Are iOS users

93%

Information about activities

65.5%

Communicate with teacher

48.3%

Upload/receive/track homework

Key Survey Takeaways

To create an MVP based on user needs, the product should be iOS, allow direct parent/teacher communication, easily tell people about upcoming activities, and track homework progress

user personas

Potential users - based on research

Andrea Village Persona

Andrea

Stay at home mom, very involved in school

Desires

  1. Have all information she needs in one place
  2. Ability to sign up for class events online
  3. Track Homework
  4. Upload pictures, particularly of children's artwork
  5. Communicate directly with teachers

Frustrations

  1. With everything going on in their lives, too much information can feel overwhelming
  2. Ideally don't want messages more than once a week
Meline Village Persona

Meline

Volunteer teacher, believes in community

Desires

  1. Continue to use communication to build up the school community
  2. Ability to follow what's happening in the classroom
  3. Native App (iOS) with info in one place
  4. Ability to toggle notifications on/off

Frustrations

  1. Doesn't want to get overwhelmed with messages throughout the week
Rochelle Village Persona

Rochelle

Working mom relying on app for information

Desires

  1. Track Homework
  2. Simplified Interface
  3. Communicate with Teachers and other Parents
  4. Pay for class field trips/events
  5. Receive messages via e-mail

Frustrations

  1. Short on time, so make clear important information
  2. If it's not in the app, I don't know what's going on

user flows

creating the path users take to complete actions

Individual actions were first created, then built towards the below master view of the user narrative.

village master userflow

A deeper dive to all the user flows is linked below.

low-fi wireframes

Knowing the functions needed to create an create an MVP users asked for, we set off to create the wireframes - first as sketches, then low fidelity digital mocks. While there were additional products such as homework tracking built out, we'll focus here in on the most needed product request - communication.

Hand Sketches - Messages

messages hand sketch plus on
calendar hand sketch plus two
messages whiteboard

Digital Mocks

The initial conceit was in line with a traditional email inbox, with later refinements shifting towards messaging services such as Slack/Discord/iMessage in how they look and function.

Inbox

messages lofi wireframe

Create Message

calendar lofi wireframe

Delete Messages

homework lofi wireframe

For a deeper dive into the low-fidelity fidelity wireframes, we've included the below link.

branding

Before creating high-fidelity versions, we needed to establish the branding. To feel reminiscent of an educational environment, we used yellow and green, and No.2 pencils

Given the concept was to build a "Community" that was the original name, however as the process moved along, the proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" arose, and "Village" emerged as a stronger name.

final full name logo

For a deeper dive into elements in the branding process, we've included the below link.

hi-fi wireframes

Putting skin on the bones

With the branding established, it's time to combine those elements with the low-fi wireframes, to create the more polished, high-fidelity mocks of the MVP pages. You will also see here the design shift towards messaging - now inline and separated by colored bubbles.

Messages Hub

village final hifi messages hub

Easily see classwide and direct messages.

Sending Messages

village 2021 final sending messages

Messages in line, and separated by bubbles.

Messages Sent

village 2021 final hifi messages sent

Your response individualized, and in line.

hi-fidelity testing

User Prototype Tests

To iron out any issues, two rounds of testing in Invision was done. While there were no navigation issues, there were other things that needed refinement.

Color Refinement

old red button new-green-button

To simplify the color structure, the first hifi mocks initially were adjusted from red to green.

new pink card new grey with green card

Further adjustments were later made to soften the colors even more. Dark green was used more sparingly, focusing more on complimentary lighter pink and green colors.

conclusions

This was a problem I was passionate about solving. Talking to fellow parents opened my eyes to their potential needs, I may not have thought about, like tracking homework.

What worked?

  • Final Branding (photos/colors etc)
  • The process - users understood navigation

What didn't work?

  • Initial Color Palatte needed slimming down and refinment, then softening
  • Intial name felt stale and generic
  • Early logos weren't scaling right
  • About pages were a little jarring in mobile

Additional things that surprised me

1. The number of people using e-mail for these functions, yet preferring to receive their messages directly in the app.

2. How bifurcated the functionalities are between different apps, where one may be great for text and bad for pictures, and where another might be the opposite.

3. The full journey iOS users experience through the sign up process, to fully understand the product. While I understand that, I think some users may want a less immersive journey, to just get into the app and go, vs having the full picture before sign up.

4. Creating a logo to scale was also a challenge, even when you strip it down to just boxes and lines.

5. Colors combinations can be challenging if you're overly tied to dominant branding colors, and don't take into account what users are accustomed to in other products, which might have softer color combinations.

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