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skillSage

skillSage helps users in learning new skills and pursuing hobbies at their own pace while making learning fun.

Role: UX Designer | Product Designer

Industry:  Education

Duration: 80 hours | Mar - May 2023

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Tools:  Figma, FigJam, Optimal workshop,                Canva, Coolors, pen and paper

Purpose

Every person has an inner enthusiasm to learn / pursue their hobbies. When we are kids we are asked to focus on studies, later career, then ambition and so on. Studies  use the 40/60 rule: learn from books, videos, podcasts, courses, documentaries and experts 40 percent of the time and practice your craft 60 percent of the time and the 5-hour rule expects a person to spend at least 5 hours a week learning a new skill. We want to encourage people to learn new skills or pursue their hobbies irrespective of their age.

Challenge

Can we dedicatedly spend 5 hours a week? What about busy schedules, routines, unexpected obstacles, and distractions?

Design process

It was important to understand what users think and feel rather than assuming the solution right off the bat. I followed systematic step-by-step design thinking methodology of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing to find solution as it highly focuses on understanding user needs  which helps in making designs human-centered.

Empathize

Define

Ideate

Prototype

Test

Design thinking process diagram

We wanted to motivate users to enthusiastically participate in learning new skills, stay engaged and accomplish their personal learning goals. We want to focus on the reasons that motivate people to pursue a hobby or learn a skill, stay engaged with learning and accomplish learning goals while making time from their busy schedules.

Problem

During research, I got below response from the user interviews.

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Users said are interested in learning new skill

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Users  find it hard to manage schedule while learning new skill

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Users find subscribing to a learning skill platform, expensive.

This brought me to the primary problem, how might we help stay-at-home mothers in exploring and learning new courses, and downloading resources for the course immediately on the same app so they can save time and effort while managing their busy schedule?

Goal

To help stay-at-home mothers and other users with similar challenge manage their schedule by providing simplicity in accessing learning content and completing their course.

Research

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For this project, I deep-dived into the lives of people who are enthusiastic about upgrading their personal and professional life and consider learning new skills or pursuing a hobby as an important achievement. I saw a need for a product such as skillSage.

I discovered a deeper zest for learning among stay-at-home moms who said their priorities sometime take a back seat while managing other's priorities at home. I was determined to make their lives simpler through skillSage.

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During the empathize stage, user interviews provided a foundation for me in building user personas and discover pain points for my focused user groups of stay-at-home moms, working professionals and young adults.

Synthesizing this data helped me in deriving problem and hypothesis statements. I analyzed competitors through SWOT and narrowed research findings through affinity mapping. This paved way for exploring ideas, deriving solutions and building wireframes. 

 

User interviews

In empathize stage, I conducted user interviews to understand what users actually thought, felt and wanted, and why. I chose 5 questions - qualitative and quantitative.

Number

5 participants

Duration

20 minutes

Interview style

Structured

Research questions

  • What it means for the user to learn a new skill?

  • How will users want to measure their performance?

  • What mode of content display will the user find engaging?

  • Will people be willing to subscribe or pay per content and how much?

  • Why would the user want to access content on our platform and what sets us apart?

Let's know the users more

My list of users include people who are willing to subscribe for the content, are motivated with the thought of learning something new, are high achievers who want to keep themselves upgraded and users who access competitor platforms.

In the define stage, I conducted thorough user research, including developing personas and user stories.

Synthesizing the data from the interviews, I was able to form two distinct user personas and their pain points. This subsequently allowed me to write definitive problem and hypothesis statements, and formulate their user stories. The user stories helped me understand the problems Smita and Dinesh faced on their paths. It also helped reduce the impact of my own designer biases, by understanding how the users think and feel though every step.

This new understanding allowed me to recognize roadblocks and pain points to correct, by identifying improvement opportunities. An example of this would be allowing them to share their apprehension in committing to investing time and money in skillSage.

And last but certainly not least, I was able to hone the idea of providing them a 30-day trial period where they could use the feature to learn a skill and download resource in the format of their choice. 

Personas

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RESEARCH SYNTHESIS

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Smita's pain points

Economic

Smita is a stay-at-home mom and follows a budget. She finds it difficult to commit to an app without trying it out. 

Product

Smita needs an app that can allow her to learn a skill at her own pace while managing schedule and earn incentives after course completion. 

Process

Smita wants a simple way to download resources immediately after course completion on the same app to save time.

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Dinesh's pain points

Economic

Dinesh is a student who feels its expensive to subscribe to an app to learn new skills. 

Product

Dinesh wants an app that can help him enhance his personal and professional life by learning new skills.

Process

Dinesh needs an app that  helps him learn new skills while making learning fun and affordable

Let's know the competitors more

Now that we begin with ideate stage, let's brainstorm solutions to our problem statements. For this reason, I have added Comparative research, SWOT analysis and affinity mapping.

Comparative research

skillSage provides incentive for completing the skill. This app carries quality content, vetted by subject matter experts. 

I compared five competitors that offer a platform for learning skills.

Competitor 1 - Masterclass: Provides access to content from world’s greatest at the comfort of
one’s home. This competitor has been in business for 8+ years.


Competitor 2 - YouTube: User can search and find tons of content on a single topic. This competitor has been in business for 15+ years.

Competitor 3 - LinkedIn learning: This app offers professional learning. Popular app amongst working professionals.

Competitor 4 - EdX: This app is gaining popularity amongst professionals..

Competitor 5 - Udemy: This app offers quick learning for professionals and non-professionals.

SWOT analysis

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Affinity mapping

It was a valuable experience to perform research with users from various walks of life. All the participants were co-operative and genuinely answered every question. This process provided valuable insight on the importance of grouping, for the purpose of clarity of thoughts. Obtaining different perspectives from users with varied backgrounds helped in empathizing with their individual requirements. This process helped in recognizing variety of challenges and provided an opportunity to brainstorm on required solutions.

 

During the interview, I focused on questions that provided clarity on what motivates the user to learn a new skill, how will they remain engaged and what will keep them from dropping off from our digital platform. Accordingly, I have made observations consisting of challenges and positive drivers. During this journey, I noticed there were additional themes that I could form a cluster of and add to the challenges and positive drivers. All the parameters that I grouped are as below:

 

  • Motivation: All the users were enthusiastic about learning a new skill. The motivational factors included staying at the top of professional career, personal growth and being productively busy.

 

  • Engagement: All the users showed interest in continuing to learn by sharing their progress with their peers who are interested in similar skills, building on learning new skill, taking short courses, and joining online groups to discuss what we have learned.

 

  • Research: Users mentioned they would consider cost, duration, applicability of new skill. effort required to learn and how interesting the course content is, as some of the factors to research before registering for a course.

 

  • Evaluation: Practice tests, exams, performance trackers, self-evaluation, comparing results with peers and ensuring all the course material is completed, were some of the evaluation techniques highlighted by the users.

  • Schedule: Users had varied opinions on timelines to complete a course. Most of them found it difficult to commit a timeline for course completion due to busy schedules. Students preferred short courses within 6-month duration.

 

  • Learning habits: Users discussed varied learning habits including but not limited to in-person coaching, self-study, and group study.

 

  • Payment: Salaried professionals and self-employed individuals preferred subscription models over free content with ads. Students and non-salaried individuals preferred content with ads or less expensive subscriptions.

 

  • Resources (potential competition): Users consume content in multiple ways. These might pose competition for our digital platform. Resources used for content consumption included in-person coaching, apps, e-books, audiobooks, web, podcasts, simulation, online research, blogs, and GitHub. One positive driver was that all users were digitally savvy which confirms they are our target users.

 

  • Accomplishments: It was interesting to know how the users would assess that they have accomplished learning a new skill. Stay-at-home parent mentioned once she achieves the ‘feel good factor’ she would know she has completed her learning. Working professionals mentioned once they start using the new skill at work, when they are in full control of the skill, when they see results, recognition and make themselves future ready, will they know they have conquered the new skill. Students would like to see desired performance results and self-employed individuals would like to see results in the form of right investments, profits and staying fit to ensure they have achieved their learning goal.

Challenges

  • Users feel bit of pressure to accomplish task within the time. 

  • Some users prefer content with ads than subscription

  • Some users prefer in-person coaching 

  • Providing quality content at affordable prices

Opportunities

  • Ready to explore new formats for content consumption

  • Users are tech savvy

  • Many users are open to subscription

  • Users can learn variety of skills
    under one platform

Identifying gaps and opportunities

1. How might we help stay-at-home moms manage their schedule to learn new skill and download resources within the app itself?

2. How might we help students and other users to subscribe to the app at lower costs?

 

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Two ideas were generated 

1. Design a feature that provides easy access to courses and helps stay-at-home moms to download resources in the format of their choice within the app.

2. Provide students with a student discount coupon on subscription models to motivate them to subscribe to the app.

Initiating product design

In the design stage, I made sure user goals align with business goals while keeping technical considerations in mind. Card sorting activity results provided strong foundation for information architecture - sitemap, user flows and task flows. This was followed by low, mid and high fidelity wireframes.

Project goals

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Prioritizing site features

Taking user personas and project goals into account, I began to brainstorm and prioritize potential app features into four categories: must haves, nice to have, surprising and delightful, and features that can come later.

Sitemap

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User flow

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Task flow

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Low-fidelity wireframes

Sketching wireframes helps in quick interpretation and visualization of the product design. My initial thoughts were to make them more detailed but gradually I realized that wireframes at this stage provide clarity on important features and iterating is easier later.

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Sketching wireframes laid a great foundation for building digital wireframes. I incorporated few iterations here and added details such as titles.

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UI Component library

The design components included in this library were brainstormed based on user research data, affinity mapping, accessibility requirement, and to make app visually appealing. Kids being the primary users, I have tried to keep the app colorful while balancing the white space.

Brand name was changed from Infinite Learning to sKillSage.

Accessibility test

I have run an accessibility test for skillSage's color palette as I consider it to be an important element in designing. The color palette has passed the accessibility test.

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High-fidelity wireframes

Bottom navigation was converted to a hamburger menu.

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Usability study

In testing stage, I focused on usability testing parameters, analyzed and prioritized results from the test and incorporated the same in my final design.
 

Usability testing parameters

Number

5 participants

Duration

20 minutes

Type

Moderated

Analyzing test results

Analyzing the data from the usability test helped me identify problems and assess the relevancy of each usability issue. I tested four tasks with the participants and implemented iterations. 

Tasks
1.  Create account
2. Pay for premium membership using coupon code
3. Download basics of content writing course

Prioritizing revisions

I incorporated relevant changes by creating a light mode version, removing payment method tab and instead adding just a heading as the tab looked like an input information field.

Final product

Final product comprised of light mode and dark mode. Being a responsive web-design, the mockups below represent different device sizes.

Light mode

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Dark mode

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skillSage journey

skillSage showed me detailed and structured way of working on UX design projects. Going forward I'll be incorporating learnings such as building UI kit and building thorough research synthesis in my future projects. 

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