ARTICLE: Trevor Minton

How early-stage EdTech products can fast track releases while protecting their investment

Whether you’re a new EdTech startup or one with a substantial track record, you’re facing similar challenges when ramping new products and features. You need to define how your new product fits into your overall vision and meets user needs. And you’ve got to make smart judgments about how to use your resources. 

As you try to handle a slew of competing interests, each with a price tag, hiring an external UX partner might feel like an investment you can’t afford. After all, you’re working with clear budget constraints. Funneling assets outside your organization may feel unwarranted.

Choosing a UX partner in the early stage, though, can prove to be the wisest investment you make in your EdTech product. On your own, you may lack key industry insight that’s born of a variety of experiences. And equally problematic, you may make decisions without the benefit of proven methodologies. 

The right UX team can serve as trusted advisors to help you assess and manage risk and make crucial internal decisions. And you’ll have access to a breadth of expertise that can get your new product jump-started and paced to win. 

Mitigate Risk With an Objective UX Partner Who Will Tell You the Truth About ROI

Both enterprise and early-stage EdTech teams usually have budget constraints and concerns about ROI. If you don’t use the right kind of research and design activities in order to stay on budget, you are introducing risks that can hurt your product in the future. 

An outside UX team like Openfield can help your team:

  • Assess the potential ROI. Meeting your current users’ needs is paramount, and you don’t want to alter the roadmap of the products that they know and engage with. When you add a new product, you’re considering rerouting resources and assets away from what you already know works. An objective, seasoned partner can help you understand whether the potential reward of the new offering justifies the inherent risk of resource expenditure.
  • Protect your investments. You need to keep attending to your current projects with focus — and you don’t want to slow down their modifications and upgrades. When you’re straddling current product maintenance and new product development, you’re going to get your new product to market more efficiently with the help of specialized knowledge from an external team.

A strong UX agency can assess both your product’s risks and your users’ needs in an unbiased way. Conducting research in the early stages will keep your product development grounded in verifiable hypotheses. Your team requires the unvarnished truth, so you can make decisions that support your key business objectives. 

Optimize Opportunity in the Earliest Stages of Your EdTech Product by Answering The Right Questions

When you build a new product, you’re aiming to meet your users’ needs with a creative approach. And innovation can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, new ideas require agility and boldness. On the other hand, innovation needs to be tempered with the right degree of stability and foresight. 

So seize the opportunity to innovate in the EdTech space by answering these questions thoughtfully:

  1. Are you offering a solution that users don’t even know they want? Real EdTech innovation should be disruptive and anticipatory. Your users may not be able to articulate a solution they need so you need to rely on your team’s ability to understand their pain points and desires. Since positioning your new product for success requires futuristic thinking, borrow our expertise. We have been exposed to a wide sweep of the EdTech landscape and have an intimate understanding of your users. 
  2. Why is the product you are offering the right one? As you detail what you are offering, you should also be able to articulate why you’re offering it. Sometimes new product objectives are formed by assumptions, internal pressures, and wish lists. And that can lead to clouded judgments about your MVP “musts.” Appropriate research and impartial advice can help you sort out the wheat from the chaff — and keep you rooted in your users’ real needs.

Tap Into the Expertise of Your UX Partners When Building Your Internal Team

When you’re in the early stages of your product design and development process, you also need to spin up a team with unique, skilled perspectives. That can be nearly impossible on the new product fast track. Even if you have the budget to hire specialists, you may not have the time to recruit, hire, and onboard them. 

But you don’t have to wait to grow your team. 

When you partner with Openfield, we can help you vet — and even interview — job candidates. We’ve integrated with many EdTech teams and know the kind of candidates you ought to consider adding to yours — especially as you get ready to launch a new product. When candidates become hires, they’ll be taking a seat at your planning table and working in lockstep with the rest of the team. Making the best choice is critical. 

It’s not just building the right team that makes for a new product’s success. It’s also using the right processes. We have proven processes and specialization in both the UX and EdTech spaces, which allow us to offer:

  • Bias-free quantitative and qualitative research. Internal teams often struggle to remain neutral. Each discipline has its own interests and goals. Our ability to maintain a holistic viewpoint can facilitate alignment of your team’s objectives.
  • Prioritized research findings. Data is only useful when it can be properly interpreted and prioritized. We keep what matters to the majority of your users front and center. 
  • Ability to scale up or down. Your UX investment should be flexible and adaptive. When you need more guidance, we can plug in all the necessary supports. But when you’ve developed strong internal tools and resources, we take the appropriate steps back. Ultimately, your roadmap and current abilities determine our level of involvement. 

It may feel risky to introduce something new to the market — and it is. Leaning into the experience and expertise of a partner like Openfield can transform a tenuous situation into a solid start.

  • Photo of Trevor Minton
    Trevor Minton

    As CXO at Openfield, Trevor collaborates closely with our clients and ensures that our team delivers world-class design thinking and execution that results in strong emotional connections between users and digital products. He is passionately enthusiastic about music, local and international soccer, automotive design and racing, and getting under the hood of his old but new-to-him BMW to keep it on the road for another couple of decades.

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