The education system most of us know is an outdated relic that has not changed for many decades. Fortunately, thanks to digital technologies and innovation, changes are coming at a swift pace. That means that the current education system will change or be left behind.
EdTech is the Future
Currently, we have technology impacting various industries: PropTech, MedTech, CleanTech, FoodTech, Agritech, BioTech, AdTech, and many, many others. However, many believe that the EdTech industry is the God of all sectors. Why? Because education affects human evolution, its development. And this, in turn, means that the EdTech industry indirectly affects all existing industries. EdTech is integrating digital technologies with education to create better solutions that result in higher learning outcomes. The critical element of modern educational technologies is current pedagogical methodologies. It is they who, with the help of modern digital technologies, enable effective teaching.
EdTech is also an extremely demanding industry in which the different expectations of teachers, students, and parents often clash. First of all, your task is to define the problem and then solve it so that all participants of the process achieve benefits.
5 seconds. This is enough to love or… kill your application
It assumes that the user needs a maximum of 5 seconds to form a preliminary opinion about the product. Psychological research confirms that the human brain reacts rapidly (in thousandths of a second), and the first impression arises in the mind very quickly, in an uncontrolled manner. It is also crucial that people tend to stick to an opinion based on the first impression. Therefore, you must do everything possible to ensure that your product is positively assessed within the first 5 seconds. This is enough to love or kill your app.
The golden rules for creating a good UX in the EdTech industry
Creating products for the EdTech industry is distinguished by the fact that its users are highly demanding, and the rejection rate of the application is very high. Great UX is always an essential factor, and however, for industry EdTech, good UX often determines the "to be or not to be" of the product. Therefore, the lack of a good UX in this segment is simply unacceptable.
Before you learn the golden rules of creating a good UX in the Ed Tech industry, you should understand what UX is. User Experience is the user's sum of experiences and emotions when interacting with a given system or website.
Unfortunately, we see more and more often that this is a factor that is treated neglectfully in the excitement of creating a project. Meanwhile, positive UX is today the best method of gaining an advantage, a way to achieve the sympathy and loyalty of users, and simply a necessity.
Understanding and satisfying the customer's needs is the absolute minimum of what a good product should do. A good product must be visually attractive, engaging, and straightforward. Navigating its functions should be easy. However, UX is about more than usability, simplicity, and aesthetics. It combines design with high-quality programming.
UX is teamwork
Whether your goal is to create a small mobile app or a massive e-learning platform, remember that great UX is teamwork. It is worth involving as many people as possible in the project: the more different points of view, the better. UX designers work with people and for people. They create solutions that reach a broad audience and delight them not only with aesthetics but, above all, with usability.
The user is always the center of attention
The most important golden rule of creating a good UX is straightforward, and yet it causes many problems for designers. Keep in mind that the user must always be the center of attention throughout the digital product development process. You have to accept his perspective, understand his needs and expectations. Therefore, try to get to know your users, you are creating the application for them, not for yourself. Think about the age of your students, their interests, trends in their world that you can use to interact with them. The use of Mickey Mouse may be interesting for 5 -year-olds, but it certainly will not delight a 15-year-old. Remember about your client all the time. It is a product for him, and he will decide whether to trust it or not.
Does it happen that UX fails? Of course. But only when we forget the human element do we move too far from reality and neglect the user's needs.
Understanding and recognizing the needs of our users is essential. It is worth conducting user research to get to know them and thoroughly understand their problems and expectations. Many specialized companies on the market can be outsourced to this task. They are highly competent specialists who can prepare a reliable report answering your questions using modern research tools and methods. However, using the services of such companies comes with costs that are not always budgeted for. However, the customer needs research that can also be carried out on your own, both with the team's help and people not directly related to the project.
It is crucial to remember that the most effective way to do good research on a client's needs is to ask questions and listen actively to the answers. There are many different identifying clients' needs, such as a pre-meeting questionnaire, an interview, or a website form. But nothing can replace traditional conversation - honest and open.
Whether you entrust the user needs research to specialists or decide to do it on your own, you need to talk to your prospective client. Nothing can replace that.
EdTech application users expect the same from it as from other applications. And to captivate the target audience, startups need innovative strategies to design a tailor-made fresh to the needs of these users. An ideal application must be functional, reliable, and useful. In addition, it must be one of a kind, my own, and it should resemble a self-designed birthday card. In today's world, everyone likes to stand out, which is why a personalized and contextual interface is the perfect answer to users' expectations.
For a long time, UX designers tend to focus solely on the aesthetic side of the product. Meanwhile, our observations show that the language of the application also matters. Use simple language: short sentences, straightforward vocabulary, and clear structure, and aesthetic design. If long text is essential, make sure the format is visually readable, interesting, and engaging. And never underestimate the power of a good font. The long or complex text causes many cognitive burdens and the danger of losing the user. It is also crucial to adjust the language to the preferences of our users. The greeting "ejo" may not necessarily appeal to a middle-aged person. ;-)
The task of the UX designer is to increase the ease of use of the product and show its benefits. Achieving this goal will improve product usability and understanding - and it will keep users coming back for more.
Make you happy
The user must be satisfied! All other UX goals are irrelevant if this condition is not met! The application's personalization and simplicity are critical, but it must have this "something for the application to impress." A kind of magic, the sum of small details that together surprise, delight and ... make you happy. It is to create a unique impression that will be an individual experience for each user. You have to remember that these elements cannot be an end in themselves; they have to be "the icing on the cake," something that will sweeten the day for the user. There are many ways to add a "wow" effect to an application, but you have to keep your preferences in mind every time.
You can use a microphone or simple animations to liven up the interface and make the application pleasant effectively. The elements that have been marginalized so far are the auditory and tactile experiences. A well-timed sound helps trigger a positive reaction from users when, for example, a specific task is completed. In turn, properly designed tactile experiences give the user a sense of control over the application but can be a positive surprise in certain situations.
Creating unique content based on the interests and actions of the user is another very subtle method of giving a little pleasure. For example, everyone loves the Spotify year summary feature, which shows how many hours a user has been listening to music and divides it by genre. Such an individual approach to the client pays off with loyalty.
Developing learning apps is more than making money; it's creating unique tools to help students learn in the best possible way. However, no matter who the product is targeted at and what its nature is, the challenges faced by UX designers are universal: lack of student motivation, boredom, and procrastination. It seems that such problems constitute an insurmountable barrier. Meanwhile, it turns out that simple actions can significantly increase students' motivation and make the application engaging and inspiring.
The key to success is setting goals for our users. Like in business, in education, you can apply the SMART concept, which helps set goals correctly, which increases the chance of achieving them. In educational applications, setting goals must be thoroughly analyzed and must consider the specificity of the user. Significantly, the goals are short-term, preferably daily. Thanks to this, students will focus on the present and current goals without worrying whether they will be accessible tomorrow, find time, etc. Goals cannot be too easy, but at the same time, they cannot be too difficult. A goal that is too ambitious undermines faith in its achievement, while a goal that is too easy kills motivation and causes boredom.
It is also crucial that the student himself has the opportunity to define his goals and, thus, decide on the pace of learning. At Duolingo, students also can change their goals at any time, allowing for greater flexibility. Regardless of the pace of learning the student decides, the terminology in the application must be as neutral as possible, without assessing or expressing any opinions. The names of the learning levels in the style of Basic, Casual, Regular, Intensive, etc., which are typically informative, seem to be a good idea.
At the end of each day, inform the student about your achievements. Non-material prizes, which take the form of virtual cups, badges, fanfares, or even confetti, are also welcome. In short, something that will immediately appreciate their efforts. It supports the learning process, but it must be remembered that it only works for the short term.
The issue of real prizes is widely commented on. Still, many psychological studies indicate the harmful effects of awarding students in kind because rewards emphasize winning them and reducing the internal interest in the learning process.
There is no such controversy about virtual prizes. However - if the application developers decide to use them - they should be a surprise for them. In addition, they should be differentiated so that the student can decide for himself whether he will exchange the collected virtual cups for access to new games, unlock new content in the application, or decorate his profile. The key is to focus on the task at hand, not the reward. In addition to the tips above, it's also worth remembering that an educational app should reassure the student that they can complete specific tasks and that the app is only there to guide them through this enjoyable experience.
Building a community
It is another element that supports the student's motivation and commitment. Online communities can be defined in different ways. In the basic sense, they are all communities of people - even temporary - gathered around a common goal or discussion on a topic interesting for everyone. Members of such communities support each other in achieving goals, which is extremely important for students; it builds their commitment and motivation.
Communities - according to Albert Bandura's theory of self-efficacy - play another key issue. When students see that someone from the community - with similar competencies and skills - has completed a task, they begin to believe in their abilities. There is a mechanism like "if others can do it, so can I." Also, in any problems, the student feels comfortable knowing that he is not alone in this situation and that others are also in trouble.
Community persuasion goes one step further: it suggests that he has the potential for success. Albert Bandura believes that when people are encouraged, they tend to persist in their efforts, possibly leading to higher achievement and enhancing the student's confidence, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The culture of a given community is also important, as it often builds and promotes a learning atmosphere.
Limit your choices, be moderate
Despite its small size (only 2% of the total body weight), the human brain consumes as much as 20% of the energy produced by our body. Nevertheless, it cannot process all information flowing to us from the environment despite its energy consumption. When the amount of data exceeds our ability to process it, our efficiency drops. It may take longer for us to process the information; we may unknowingly skip details or even abandon the task altogether. Interestingly, we usually don't realize it!
When you ask the user if he wants to have more choices, the answer is always “YES.” However, research shows that people feel less happy when they have to choose from many options. After being presented with several choices, users tend to feel dissatisfied with the decision made and are even more likely to abandon the entire process. This phenomenon is called cognitive load. In most cases, restricting choice provides a more positive user experience and increases user engagement. Therefore, when designing UX, it is very important to exercise moderation. Too many options, a large number of links, graphics unrelated to the page content, or too flowery typography - will slow down the user's actions. And they can make them abandon your product irretrievably.
A good design should be unique. Even slight copying can make it stop being positively distinguished and, as a result, make an uninspiring product, similar to many others. There is an apparent distinction between inspiration and drawing from someone's experience and blind copying. The difference is implementing good practices and constantly asking how they can help me improve application design. Therefore, do not copy, be yourself. Everyone likes unique and original things and is not excited about the same-looking applications.
Laptop or mobile phone
Probably every designer dreams of creating an application that will be attractive to both laptop users and mobile phone users in the same form. Apart from technical issues (such as the need to include only the most important functions in the mobile application because all of them would slow down the application), it is worth remembering that the use of these two devices is entirely different. And it's not just about format issues but more about the mental and emotional state of the user. In mobile phones, the application competes with other installed applications and various activities, such as receiving text messages, making a phone call, or boarding the bus with the phone in hand. The user is involved in several activities simultaneously, which means that the application must even fight for his attention.
Meanwhile, laptop users use them at work, or in the comfort of their own home, or even at school. Then they do not get on the bus and do not perform several activities at the same time. They are in a completely different mental and emotional state than the cell phone user. Staying focused and committed differs significantly between the two tools. Therefore, before you start working, determine the choice of tool.
One of the most critical moments in digital product development is assessing how easily and quickly new users can familiarize themselves with the application. It is the moment that verifies all our activities so far.
Deployment can take many forms depending on the product: tutorials, video tutorials, highlighted features, product navigation tips, and much, much more. However, research shows that users ... do not read the tutorials; they rely on their own experiences and intuition. Therefore, the use of the application must be as intuitive and simple as possible. If your application contains many tutorials necessary to understand it, you can be almost 100% sure that the interface is poorly designed. And then you will lose the client.
Slow loading speed
Nowadays, time is one of the most scarce and thus valuable values in human life. For this reason, people expect immediate solutions and having to wait always causes them discomfort.
Mobile application users are impatient, as statistics on-page and application load times are inevitable: if the application load time increases from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of its rejection increases by 32%. If the (application) delay increases to 6 seconds, then the bounce rate is over 100%! When a mobile application does not respond immediately to touch, users tend to be frustrated. Instead of waiting for a while, they press various buttons chaotically to solve the problem, which only makes things worse... Research shows that 80% of mobile device users expect internet sites to load as they do on a desktop computer.
Is registering/logging in to the application necessary?
Many applications require their users to register and login. They must then reveal many details, such as name, surname, e-mail address, or contact number. The problem is that often this information is not needed, and its administration causes a lot of discomfort to users. However, if user registration is essential, the process must be extremely simple. Difficulties with registration and login mean that approximately 16% of users eventually uninstall the application.
Testing, testing ...
Did you know that only about 55% of companies perform UX testing? It is a reasonably low ratio, considering that positive UX is the foundation of business success today. In the meantime, testing should take place throughout the production period. Each new feature should be tested immediately after its creation to ensure that it works as required. Tests are crucial because they help check whether subsequent modifications to the project do not cause errors in previously performed functionalities. This approach allows you to avoid problems that would arise in the future. Thanks to this, we will save a lot of time and money in the long term.
Data protection and security
Since your application will be used by one of the most vulnerable groups - students, your task is to build and design an application that will ensure the privacy of those who use it. Most online learning applications and platforms work and collect data in the so-called cloud. It raised many questions and concerns regarding the privacy of students and teachers. According to the General Data Protection Regulation, users need to know how and when their data was collected, stored, recorded, transferred, and deleted. It is also obligatory to inform users about the purpose of the information held. The General Data Protection Regulation also requires data encryption to limit the possibility of security breaches. Therefore, remote education platforms will be more willing to use blockchain technology in the coming years. It consists of the fact that new "blocks" are added to the system each time new data is obtained, creating information chains. It makes the data storage technically unlimited. At the same time, the data is encrypted and distributed across multiple computers, which leads to the database being distributed and decentralized. Within a few years, blockchain technology will become a standard tool for securing data such as degrees, certifications, assessments, test results, and diplomas.