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SchoolFinder

The challenge: Finding a way to make the process of searching for and comparing different schools easier and more seamless for parents so they can feel confident about the choice they make for their children. 

The solution: SchoolFinder is an app that allows parents to search for schools in their area based on different criteria, save schools they are interested in, see reviews from other parents and communicate directly with those parents (as well as teachers), and keep track of important events relevant to their school search. 

My role: Lead Designer and UX Researcher

Tools: Figma, FigJam, and Miro

The Problem

Parents have many considerations to make when choosing a school for their children and, usually, not a lot of time. Through interviews conducted by OurKids.net, parents expressed some of the main considerations, including class size, values, and whether or not the school felt like the right fit. The parents interviewed also expressed that their school searches took up a lot of time. 

"I wanted to see my child flourish in an academic and social environment where kids were valued for who they are, and not just seen as students." 

Users

The target users for the SchoolFinder app are busy parents who are looking for schools for their children. The app will be especially useful for parents new to an area or who don't know many other parents who they can consult for advice or school recommendations.  

Initial User Research

Once the problem and target users were clearly defined I created an affinity diagram, compiling key insights from the OurKids parent interview transcripts, which then highlighted overarching themes to be addressed by the product.

Next, I conducted a competitive analysis to see what kinds of competitors are on the market, what they are already doing well, and where there are opportunities for innovation. Once I had a list of competitive websites and digital products, I filled out SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) charts for each. 

Ideation and Testing

To identify the screens needed for a prototype , I created a user flow diagram to work through the steps that users would be taking. I then sketched out different ideas and selected the concepts I wanted to expand on. From there, I sketched the screens needed for the complete user flow and those sketches were converted into a low-fidelity prototype. 

With the low-fidelity prototype created, I wrote a usability test plan and used the plan to guide 3 moderated usability tests. In each session, I gave participants tasks to complete and asked them about their experience.

Conducting usability tests provided me with important insights on the ease of the navigation , as well as user expectations and interests for different features or content to be included.  

Final Design Solution

After incorporating learnings and feedback, the final product is an app that allows parents to easily search for and compare schools, save the options they are most interested in, keep track of important events relevant to their search, and communicate directly with other parents, as well as teachers. SchoolFinder is a digital solution that helps parents by keeping everything in one place and making the information they need both clear and accessible. 

Upon launch, my recommended next steps for stakeholders would be to monitor user reviews in the App Store and the Google Play Store, as well as metrics and KPIs like conversion rates and user drop-off. If performance and reported user sentiment are not meeting expectations, I'd recommend conducting a round of user interviews and implementing a CSAT survey for users so that we can receive direct feedback and make improvements based on it. 

Takeaways

While there were many lessons I learned from working on this project, one of my main takeaways has been the importance of user expectations and how designers can rely on best practices when creating a usable and useful product.