ARTICLE: Trevor Minton

How to invest wisely in your EdTech product's UX program for the long haul

The most successful EdTech companies create products that meet their users’ needs in an evolving fashion. They understand that their users aren’t stagnant — and neither are their needs when it comes to the digital products they use in the classroom. 

Rather, the most successful EdTech companies nurture their products with ongoing cycles of user experience research and design. They do this because they know it’s the only way to continuously improve their products and remain viable over the long haul in a fiercely competitive market.  

The decision to make UX an ongoing priority is a no-brainer. But figuring out how to budget for a long-term UX investment is another story. 

It’s not enough to simply look at last year’s numbers and duplicate them for the year to come. Neither does it make sense to arbitrarily raise your spend by a certain percentage in the hopes of “doing more,” broadly speaking. In order to steward your resources responsibly and get the most impact from your investment, you must peg your investment to your product roadmap — and leave room for the unforeseen issues that will inevitably arise, too. 

The good news? The right UX agency can guide you. They can help you connect your product’s unique requirements to the right level of investment at six, twelve-month, or even longer intervals. Here’s how. 

UX Budgeting for the Long Term: Determining the Right Level of Investment for Your EdTech Product

Your UX budget will define the scalability of your UX team as well as your ability to meet your product’s various needs. In order to craft a sensible budget, you must take many factors into consideration. You need to understand where your product is today and where you want it to go over the next 12 to 36 months. And you need to know what level of investment is necessary to stay competitive. 

Unfortunately, for many EdTech companies, this is easier said than done. 

Why EdTech Companies Struggle to Identify the Right Level of Long-Term UX Investment 

Many EdTech companies struggle to identify the right level of investment for their UX budget for two reasons. 

The first is that they don’t know what they don’t know. That is, many EdTech companies aren’t sure exactly what it is they should be doing in terms of their UX program. Some executives have the idea that they want to maintain the same level of UX investment from year to year. While this approach provides budgetary stability, it usually doesn’t serve the product’s best interests. Other times, executives want to amp up their investment in UX activities, but they don’t really know how much more money to allocate — or even what the extra funding will get them. 

What it boils down to is this: any one individual EdTech company typically only has its own record and experiences to work off of. They don’t know how other companies in the field are approaching their UX activities and what level of investment that requires. At Openfield, we have the benefit of a bird’s eye view. We see the way multiple EdTech companies approach their UX investment, and we see what does and doesn’t work. We can apply that wisdom to your individual situation to help you determine what level of investment is needed to defend and expand your market share. 

The second reason EdTech companies struggle to identify the right UX budget is because of a natural disconnect between the executive team and the product team. Too frequently, the executive team, which is responsible for making budgetary decisions, isn’t in close enough communication with the product team, which has a boots-on-the-ground understanding of a product’s most pressing needs. 

Openfield helps EdTech companies bridge this common divide. We can do it because we speak both languages: that of the product team and that of the executive. We know how to get in the weeds with product owners to hammer out a detailed product roadmap with thoughtful prioritization of activities. At the same time, we also have a high-level understanding of the executive team’s enterprise-level goals and challenges. We can give them critical insight into how their UX investment will help them move the needle on their enterprise-level goals.

UX Agency Involvement: The Key to Proper Investing

When we work with clients to help them set their long-term UX investment, we begin by looking at the product they are trying to build. We get to know their goals as expressed in their product roadmap. And we bring our deep knowledge of current trends in the EdTech space. Doing so allows us to make a recommendation that supports our clients’ goals and sharpens their competitive edge.

Finally, our recommendations are also in keeping with our clients’ available resources. And Openfield is committed to meticulous, human-centric, trustworthy UX expertise regardless of a client’s investment. 

The Benefits of Partnering with a UX Agency to Manage your Long-Term UX Investment

There are many benefits to partnering with a UX agency to set and manage a long-term UX investment. In doing so, you ensure that: 

  • Your team can proactively and flexibly provide the UX resources necessary to ensure the best outcomes. When you budget on a project-by-project basis, you lose critical time and agility in your UX activities. A long-term investment model allows you to anticipate and respond quickly to new issues while they are still molehills, not mountains. 
  • Your agency provides regular reporting and keeps an eye on your investment burn rate. When Openfield partners with clients to manage a long-term investment, we provide weekly budget reports including the current investment burn down, an inventory of current activities and output, as well as future projections. 
  • Your agency manages your UX team’s schedule and output to best meet your needs. When Openfield is part of your long-term UX investment planning, we are able to pivot as our research uncovers new, user-driven features and functionalities. On a related note, we can adjust our output and team expertise with each sprint, ramping up or down as needed. We can also tap team members in and out depending on what’s needed in the moment, whether that’s UX research, project management, or UX design work. As a result, you can shift the risk of scheduling and staffing from you to us. 

Your EdTech product’s success is predicated on your ongoing commitment to UX. Interested in learning more about how Openfield can help you manage your UX initiatives and keep your product at the forefront of the EdTech space? We’d love to connect.

  • 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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