Defining and Designing for the Parents User Persona

Monica Sherwood bio picture Monica Sherwood

The rise of the parent user persona represents a major shift for edTech companies, and there are many new opportunities to design edTech with parents in mind. Commercial edTech companies like ABCmouse figured this out before the pandemic by focusing specifically on designing for education with the parent user persona in mind. BrainPOP, on the other hand, simply markets differently to parent users.

Over the course of the pandemic, parents have become more sophisticated consumers of learning products. Because students often need help using edTech products at home, parents are using learning tools more frequently. They’re communicating with teachers and administrators about ease of use, too.

Whether you add new portals specifically for parent users or shift your marketing strategy, now is the time to conduct research into your own parent user persona. Below, we break down how to define this important user—and outline the features that parents need most.

How to Define the Parent Persona

Before you add new features or roll out a new sales strategy, it’s important to conduct user experience research

After all, how you support the needs of parent users in your product will affect the UX and design decisions you make for other personas, including students and teachers.

Let’s dig in.

Research Your Competitors

In addition to researching how your subject-area competitors address parent personas, dig into other types of edTech platforms and communication tools. How do these brands support parents as they:

  • check on their child’s grades
  • review assignments
  • read teacher comments
  • communicate directly with teachers and support staff
  • or create learning experiences for their own child at home?

Competitive research will help you identify gaps in your particular market, so you can design more effectively for your tech-savvy parent user personas.

Conduct User Interviews

Conducting user interviews with parents will help you define their needs. This is especially important for products that support special needs students, since their parents will have heightened expectations for your product and its efficacy. 

As you conduct interviews, establish a technology baseline for your parent user persona:

  • Do the parents who use your product have more digital literacy than you expected?
  • What are their bare minimum technology expectations and requirements?
  • Have you considered the needs of parents who don’t speak English or who need more tech support?

In addition to insights about digital literacy, user interviews will also help you uncover how parents understand the overall value of your product.

Consider Your Teacher Persona, Too

As you’re focusing on parent needs, don’t forget how this persona will interact with teachers in the classroom and through your product. 

Features that provide parents insights into the child’s performance will ultimately make your teachers’ jobs easier. Consider:

  • Can parents get access to product usage data, test scores, or other insights about their child?
  • Can teachers easily direct parents to product resources or support?

Weave questions about teachers’ interactions with parents directly into your qualitative user interviews. This way, you’ll get a better sense of which features will support the needs of every user throughout your experience. Remember– you’re designing for education, so teachers are the experts here.  

6 Key Features that Support the Needs of Your Parent User Persona

Parents are already used to helping their children with homework, especially very young children. edTech now has an opportunity to support that process by increasing parents’ access to curricular materials and by helping parents navigate homework time more effectively. Here are the five key features that will support your parent user persona—no matter what kind of edTech product you’re working on. 

    1. Multilingual interfaces

      English might be our national language, but, according to the Migration Policy Institute, as many as 1 in 3 students speak a second language at home. By designing a multilingual interface, you’ll automatically make your product more usable for your parent persona—and more valuable to your buyer.

    2. Accessible UI

      Many parents want to be involved with their child’s learning, but they need more help with digital literacy. Designing with accessibility in mind can ease this pain point. Whether you limit the amount of text in your UI or simplify your content sequencing, an accessible interface supports the needs of all users. Remember: parents of students with special needs will also have heightened expectations around accessibility.

    3. Single log-on

      Parents with multiple school-age children have a mountain of login information to keep track of. Help parents simplify the process with single sign-on. In addition to making things easier on your parent users, you’ll automatically lessen the workload of teachers who have been increasingly pushed into the role of tech support.

    4. Student Insights

      Parents are always interested in learning how their child is doing in class. With real-time reporting or data dashboards for parents, you can provide easy ways for parents to track and support their child’s learning. Insights are even more effective if parent users are able to communicate with teachers around assignments or provide other forms of feedback.

    5. Onboarding

      As parents become better edTech users, school administrators and teachers will look to edTech companies to provide additional support with onboarding. What kinds of specific tech support will your parent persona need to be successful within your product?

    6. Content resources

      Like teachers and students, parents need specific kinds of content. In some cases, it’s likely been decades since they’ve seen specific math or reading concepts. How can you support parents directly by offering resources like a glossary of terms or concept explainer videos? The more supported your parent persona is in understanding their child’s content, the more you support teachers in their work—and lessen the frustration of students.

By making it easy for parents to support the students using your product, you’ll ultimately make your product more effective—and more valuable. Investing in usability for parents doesn’t have to be a heavy lift, either. Simplifying your UX copy, creating clear CTAs, and thoughtfully sequencing your content all support ease-of-use.

Whether you design a new feature for your parent user persona or conduct more user interviews to better understand their needs, now is the time to investigate how parents fit into the picture. The pandemic has changed the tech landscape for this key new persona—and edTech will feel the impact of this shift for a long time to come.

Are you reconsidering the needs of parents in 2022? Contact us to find out how we can support you with UXR or UX design!

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