You already know that deep discovery into the needs of teachers and students sets your edTech product up for success. But how do you get from UX discovery to a full-fledged design strategy?
UX design strategy is important for aligning your stakeholders and creating solutions that meet the needs of your users. It also keeps your project on track and mitigates the risks of product design. That way, you won’t waste time or budget designing solutions that don’t work.
What’s more, product teams that design learning tools strategically possess a key differentiator in the edTech industry. Because of their strategic efforts, they create engaging, effective tools that users love and vouch for. Who doesn’t want that?
Below, you’ll learn more about why UX strategy is crucial to the success of your edTech product and how to create a strategic summary to align everyone on your team. Let’s dive in!
The difference between UX design strategy and UXR
User experience research (UXR) is a foundational starting point for all edTech product strategy. Through qualitative interviews and quantitative analysis, your team will vet assumptions about the needs, pain points, and behaviors of teachers and learners.
After conducting interviews or testing user flows, however, you’ll be left with questions about how to solve for those specific needs. UX design strategy answers these questions, synthesizes them, and allows you to design creative solutions to support your users.
In my experience, UX design strategy results in two important outcomes—both of which impact your edTech product development timeline:
- You’re better able to identify areas of complexity within your learning tool, including where your designers will need more time to iterate.
- You can pinpoint areas of innovation that may need to be tested multiple times with your users, since these features or user flows may not follow typical UX patterns.
And this is all before you even begin talking about visual design or UI!
Ultimately, while UXR and design strategy are closely related, they represent two different phases of the edTech discovery process. Both phases are important moments to align with your stakeholders, so you can design a learning tool that’s effective in the classroom—and that drives revenue.
Why is UX design strategy important?
By investing in edTech product discovery and UXR, your team will develop a strong UX design strategy that outlines how to solve specific user challenges with creative solutions.
With a tight plan in place, everyone on the team can make stronger design decisions in each iteration. You’ll hopefully see the outcomes of these decisions in early user testing. Unpredictable results at this stage are typically a consequence of design decisions that are unsupported by strategy.
And that’s why it’s crucial for your entire team, including all your stakeholders, to align on your user research findings and strategic recommendations. From this point on, UX design strategy determines the solutions you deliver.
Creating solutions that deviate from your strategy creates tremendous risk. Risks include budget increases, longer timelines, or solutions that don’t meet the needs of teachers and students.
Ultimately, UX design strategy represents your edTech product’s stakeholder alignment moment. When you sign off on research and strategy, you’re aligning on the best path forward based on what you discovered (UXR) and your plan to address it (strategy).
How to focus your strategy and align stakeholders
In order to focus your UX design strategy on the efforts that will have the greatest impact, it’s important to ask your project stakeholders targeted questions about the path forward.
Remember: both stakeholders and users have minimal time. By focusing on questions that will result in an action item for a UX priority, you’ll be able to move forward with greater efficiency.
Here are several questions I’ve always found helpful for developing a UX design strategy to share with stakeholders:
- What is the best UX tool to put in front of users and why? What level of fidelity will help us get the answers we need?
- Who are the priority users we want to test these artifacts with?
- What are the key features to test and why?
- What pieces of the experience do we need to put in front of stakeholders to get consensus?
- How do we balance using common UX patterns with innovative ideas?
- Which approaches to design will engage learners most?
Answers to these questions will help you develop a clear strategic summary for aligning your entire team. This way, as you develop design and UX solutions, you can compare them to this summary and check for alignment.
Because a strategic summary becomes your “north star” for both UX and UI design, you’ll develop an edTech product that meets your strategic product and user goals.
The benefits of hiring an external team to support your strategy
When you’re too close to the business or user problems you want to solve, it can be challenging to develop a proper UX design strategy for your edTech product.
I’ve seen organizations struggle time and again with developing the perspective they need to identify and design the best solutions for the teachers and learners who use their tools.
This makes sense, too. All teams are deeply invested in their own processes, products, and users. And it’s easy to default to “the way things are usually done.” It’s human nature!
That’s why outsourcing your UX design and strategy is such a great opportunity. You’ll gain the perspective of a design team that’s worked on many different solutions for many different companies.
You’ll also benefit from bringing in a specialized team. Because of their high levels of expertise, specialized UX teams deliver a higher return on investment. This is especially true in a complex, nuanced field like edTech.
After all, UX design grounded in UXR and strategic thinking is infinitely more valuable than making minor product improvements for performance. (Of course, a good UX team can do that kind of work, too.)
The ROI of UX design strategy
As edTech becomes more competitive, taking the time to lay the foundations of UX design strategy will help your team:
- Identify the user challenge or market problem you’re trying to solve with more precision
- Generate the right solutions to address these problems, ensuring the ideas for your product fit the market
- Continue to iterate and solve problems more efficiently
- Focus on the design and experience solutions that best center the needs of teachers and students
The results are worth it. After all, if you build something that’s slightly wrong and iterate from there, the gap between the optimal solution and your users’ needs and expectations will only widen over time. That’s a recipe for disaster!
A great UX design strategy drives greater adoption rates and increases revenue, all while keeping your design and engineering team on track during the product build. By prioritizing the needs of your users, you’ll mitigate risks, choose the right solutions, and find the most efficient ways forward in your project timeline.
Ultimately, your team’s ability to strategically tackle design challenges is the differentiator between your edTech product and another learning tool. It’s also the difference between engaging with a user base that likes your product—and a user base that loves your product. Why wouldn’t you want to invest your dollars in getting that equation right?