SchoolFolio

A quick and hassle-free way for busy parents to find the best schools for their children
Duration:
Role:
Tools:
9 days (February 2023)
UX/UI Designer ⎯ User research, Usability testing, Rapid prototyping, Style tiles, User interface design
Figma, Adobe Color, Human Interface Guidelines
Duration:
9 days (February 2023)
Role:
UX/UI Designer ⎯ User research, Usability testing, Rapid prototyping, Style tiles, User interface design
Tools:
Figma, Adobe Color, Human Interface Guidelines

Overview

About SchoolFolio

With busy lives and diverse family needs, finding the right school where parents can trust their child to spend 8 hours can be a challenge. This process can become time-consuming, stressful, and overwhelming due to the abundance of information available.

So, how can parents efficiently find a school that fulfills their requirements and provides their child with the optimal experience?

That’s where SchoolFolio comes in. SchoolFolio is a mobile app concept designed to help parents simplify the school-search process by keeping it on a single platform and eliminate the need to scour through multiple sources.

The Brief

For context, this was a project brief provided by Flatiron School, originally named, “Better School Choice.” The objective was to analyze and synthesize unstructured research data to identify areas of opportunity and ideate a new product.

Three Sprints, One Goal

With a limited time frame to complete this design challenge, I broke down the project into 3 design sprints, each spanning 3 consecutive days.
1

Research and Define

Before diving into ideation, I needed to understand the mental models of how parents decided where to send their kids to school.

Understanding How Parents Think

I was provided with 6 user interview transcripts from OurKids, each detailing a different parent’s experience. After annotating each interview, I synthesized my notes by affinity mapping to identify patterns. I used this information to craft two user personas, enabling a deeper understanding of the parents' frustrations from their perspective.

  • It's hard to find schools that meet all of their criteria. Parents often relied on in-person visits or looking through multiple sources to get their questions answered, making the process time-consuming.
  • The situational context is different for every family. Some parents are looking before their child is even born, while others already have kids in school and are more urgently looking to transfer them elsewhere.
  • Key considerations: Tuition, distance, reviews, student-teacher ratio, public vs. private, accommodations for students with disabilities
  • Trusting their “gut” feeling. After finding schools that meet their technical requirements, most parents turn to their instincts to make a final decision.

Assessing Current Solutions

With a deeper understanding of how parents tackle the school-search process, I conducted a SWOT analysis on 3 direct competitors (Niche, OurKids, and GreatSchools) to assess the current solutions in place and their efficiency. Based on their current features, I found the following opportunities:
Opportunity:
Reasoning:
Develop a mobile app solution
There is currently a lack of presence in the mobile app space. Niche has an app, but it’s limited to colleges.
Take advantage of common UI patterns for a smooth user experience
Each competitor presented their content in the form of cards, such as their school listings and organizing different categories of information.
Maintain a consistent amount of information between public and private schools
OurKids was limited to private school resources, GreatSchools mainly focused on public schools, and Niche had both. The amount of information was inconsistent, requiring parents to use multiple resources to find information.
Opportunity ⎯ Develop a mobile app solution
Reasoning: There is currently a lack of presence in the mobile app space. Niche has an app, but it’s limited to colleges.
Opportunity ⎯ Take advantage of common UI patterns for a smooth user experience
Reasoning: Each competitor presented their content in the form cards, such as their school listings and organizing different categories of information.
Opportunity ⎯ Maintain a consistent amount of information between public and private schools
Reasoning: OurKids was limited to private school resources, GreatSchools mainly focused on public schools, and Niche had both. The amount of information was inconsistent, requiring parents to use multiple resources to find information.
SWOT Analysis of Niche, OurKids, and GreatSchools
SWOT Analysis of Niche, OurKids, and GreatSchools

Defining the MVP

Considering the time constraints of the project, I outlined the key components that would constitute the MVP—a high-fidelity prototype focusing on the most critical features that would target the parents’ main concerns.
Problem Statement:
MVP features:
Busy parents need a digital tool that helps them conduct the school-search process efficiently, so that they can decide which school is best-fit for their children.
Key user stories:
  • Search for schools that meet multiple requirements
  • View a side-by-side comparison of two schools
Key screens:
  • Dashboard
  • Search page
  • Advanced filters
  • School profile
  • School comparison
  • Saved schools
Problem Statement:
Busy parents need a digital tool that helps them conduct the school-search process efficiently, so that they can decide which school is best-fit for their children.
Key features
Key user stories:
  • Search for schools that meet multiple requirements
  • View a side-by-side comparison of two schools
Key screens:
  • Dashboard
  • Search page
  • Advanced filters
  • School profile
  • School comparison
  • Saved schools
2

Ideation and Testing

Low-Fidelity Sketches

After defining the MVP, I proceeded with several rounds of Crazy-8’s rapid sketching. During the initial session, my focus was designing the dashboard layout, as it was essential for parents to have an organized way of managing their search based on their current stage in the process.

Next, I sketched two variations for the user task flow aimed at helping parents efficiently find schools that meet their specific requirements, aligning with the primary goal of the app. These sketches were subsequently transformed into a mid-fidelity prototype using Figma to facilitate the testing phase.

A/B testing on Mid-Fidelity Prototypes

As this project had a smaller scope, I conducted user testing with only one participant at this stage. Initially, I performed an A/B test to evaluate the user's preferences regarding the dashboard design and navigation for finding schools that meet specific requirements. Additionally, I included testing for the task flow related to comparing two schools.

Based on the results, I discovered that users preferred having the option to filter their search right from the beginning rather than solely within the search results. The testing also enabled me to reorganize the content on the dashboard, reducing redundancy with the primary navigation bar and emphasizing the information users wanted to see on their home page.
3

Iteration and Final Designs

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this project was the creative process of selecting the style that would perfectly match the essence of the app's content.

Evoking a Sense of Reassurance Through the User Interface

Reflecting back on my research, I asked myself:

“If I were a parent, how would I want to feel while choosing a school for my child?”

Recognizing that parents often feel overwhelmed at this stage, I aimed for a color palette that balanced a feeling of reassurance with professionalism and seriousness. This led me to be inspired by darker, muted, nature colors. I extracted these colors from a collection of mood-evoking photos using Adobe Color's Extract Theme tool and created several style tile options. Ultimately, I decided on the following blend of typography, color, tone, and imagery.
SchoolFolio Style Tile
SchoolFolio Style Tile

Final Designs and the Creation of the name "SchoolFolio"

With the style chosen, I brainstormed a few names and came up with “SchoolFolio.” Similar to how an employer might review applicants’ portfolios to decide on the best candidate, this app is a one-stop shop for parents to research and select a school that best fits their child’s needs.

What’s Next?

After I completed the high-fidelity prototype, I had the opportunity to present my solution to my colleagues and instructor and gather their feedback. Revisions and recommendations I have in mind include:
  • Increase personalization features of the dashboard. This would included creating a user flow of adding, deleting, and rearranging shortcuts and add additional widgets.
  • Add a social media component. Parents valued advice from their mutuals. This raises the opportunity to develop a supportive community of parents who are going through the same process.
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