Learning about eLearning


Summary
A well known learning management company based in Austin Texas engaged my company at the time, Inspired Environment, to participate in their design exploration for a new LMS system aimed at helping students recover credits.

Toughest challenges
This was a new product for the company and they decided to start with an entirely new tech stack which at the time was TBD. This made for a lot of open ended discussions. Another issue; the curriculum was in an antiquated format that disallowed deep linking and time stamping inside the videos which is central to many modern LMS features. We had to find an actionable way around those hurdles. 

Process
We had the great fortune of  participating in several game-storming sessions. These sessions were set up to have current users discuss what a Credit Recovery App might look like, what it might do, and how it would make their lives better. We started our research within that context as observers. The information we gleaned from those sessions was invaluable. It gave us a great start in developing the psychographic profile for the primary and secondary user-personas of the system we would be designing. Extensive competitive analysis followed. User and stakeholder interviews led us to 5 core personas we believed should guide future design efforts. After thoroughly verifying the personas internally, I went on to design the use cases, user flows, and wireframes. These deliverables supported the needs established by their main personas and communicated our ideas as to how they should go about building this new product. 

Tools
The tools employed in this engagement were the standard array of paper sketches, white-boarding, Powerpoint, Indesign, Photoshop, Omnigraffle, and Axure. I would say on this engagement the most powerful would have been Powerpoint as it was what we used to build our summary reports and persona documents. These 2 things had the greatest impact in helping the team visualize the end product and orient themselves as to where to begin. 


Team
My role in this was to augment and support their product team by summarizing their qualitative research from a UX strategy lens. Myself and an assistant spent 3 months in customer interviews, game-storming exercises, presenting interim findings, writing user stories, designing personas, and static wire-framing our research findings which were then delivered to the product design team.

Insights
Keeping a tight set of personas when building an MVP is invaluable. We added a persona for the software itself to help the team visualize and write accurate copy for the software. They were surprised by this but it had a very positive impact on the quality of error messages and labeling. The results were well received and barring a few hiccups both internally and in the market and in the end our research heavily informed the end result. 


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