EdTech product development rarely moves along at a predictable, constant pace. There are phases of frantic activity. And there are phases of watching and waiting. The ebb and flow inherent in your product’s life cycle keeps things interesting — and difficult to properly staff. Now more than ever, striking the right balance with resources is a job unto itself. And you may be considering hiring an outside UX agency to support you. Up to this point, you may not have felt the need for an external UX partner. Not so long ago, your product team probably spent time and energy focusing on nice-to-have features. And you had the capacity to do so. But the EdTech landscape is different now. You have to prioritize the features you know your users require in the post-Covid classroom.
One of the most important continuing conversations you’ll have about your EdTech product is about how it meets accessibility standards. Adhering to accessibility guidelines isn’t just about avoiding penalties. It’s just the right thing to do. All of your users deserve access to the same information, no matter what their physical or mental abilities. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) are meant to ensure your product’s content is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Making sure your product lives up to those principles is not a one-and-done affair. It requires constant evaluations and improvements. You may need to do an internal accessibility audit to work through small compliance issues. Or you may need to go a step further with a VPAT.
UX issues are an unavoidable part of digital product development. That’s true whether you’re updating an existing feature or readying a brand-new EdTech product for launch. The real question isn’t whether you’ll encounter usability issues, but what you do about them. Identifying the symptoms of your usability problems may be easy enough. Perhaps your CX team is swamped with complaints about a particular task, or maybe you’re seeing a lack of engagement with a specific feature. But diagnosing the underlying problems — the why behind those glaring symptoms — can be much more challenging. Of course, doing so is necessary if you want to find the right solutions.
If you’re developing your EdTech product in an environment of rapid iteration, tension can run high. Even though you’re moving fast, you still need to stay close to the reason you are creating a product in the first place: your users’ evolving needs. And that means you’ve got to simultaneously conduct UX research and keep up the pace. Some research methodologies are better than others at different points of your product development. When you’re working under a tight deadline, you need research results in a matter of days, not weeks. User surveys can be effective research methods when you need actionable insights fast. Your research should always be rigorous and comprehensive, so you can make the best product decisions for your users. Keeping up the momentum while gleaning and integrating new insights? That’s a tall order.
Data visualizations can be powerful assets for your EdTech product. They tell clear stories that engage and inform your users. When designed simply and used selectively, data visualizations enhance learning experiences. Unfortunately, though, harnessing their power can be easier for some more than others. Like all other features of your product, data visualizations should be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Accessibility guidelines for data visualization aren’t explicitly defined under Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), so it’s easy for your team to deprioritize them. And sometimes your product designers may inadvertently neglect accessibility in their processes.
Openfield provided UX strategy and design that resulted in this intuitive, innovative suite of learning tools that facilitate campus communication and create a standardized ecosystem of support at every stage of the student lifecycle.