Design Language


Why your EdTech product needs a data visualization style guide

As EdTech products like yours mature, they grow. That is, they amass an increasing number of features, functionalities, and users. And as they do that, they create and collect more and more of something else: User data. This ever-expanding river of data represents a major opportunity to add value for your users by uncovering meaningful and actionable insights. But how you go about presenting that data can spell the difference between success and failure.

Photo of UX designers reviewing the design system for an EdTech product

Moving to a new design tool? Time to optimize your design system.

As an EdTech product owner, you know that your team is only as efficient as the systems and processes you put in place to manage production. And those systems and processes are, in turn, shaped by the design and engineering tools you use. That’s one of the reasons why the decision to migrate to a new design tool is such a big deal. But it also means that switching tools — for whatever reason — represents a key opportunity to reevaluate and optimize your workflows.

Image detail showing design system documentation for EdTech product.

Design systems can make or break your EdTech product’s UX. Here’s how to do it right.

You already know that design systems are critical when it comes to creating consistent user interfaces. In fact, you may already have invested in a design system for your EdTech product. You’ve seen some benefits, sure. But you’ve also found that it’s opened up a whole new Pandora’s box of sticky design questions. Rather than arming your team with the information necessary to make confident decisions, they are frequently bogged down with uncertainty and indecision. It seems like every new use case results in a debate over which version of a component should be used or whether new variants should be created. 

Photo of UX design system for an EdTech product.

How to build an EdTech design system that supports multiple products

Most EdTech companies understand the value of design systems. Comprehensive UX design systems are much more than just a static library of fonts, colors, and reusable components such as buttons. Actionable design systems also establish principles to guide the usage of individual components. The result is improved efficiency, more effective design governance, reduced design debt — and a more user-friendly product.

Image of design system elements showing spacing guidelines.

Why a design system should be a core part of your product roadmap

Within any product, there exists a large set of individual design elements, from buttons and colors to menus and form fields. Together, these individual elements make up the basic building blocks of a product’s design. Design systems are the means by which product teams document those individual components, describe how they behave, and provide usable guidelines for how to build patterns and workflows. Many product teams write off design systems as being superfluous.

Design debt weighs heavily on a product leader's mind.

The high costs of design debt – and how to pay it down

Usability problems can crop up in EdTech products for any number of reasons. An incomplete understanding of user’s needs. Inadequately defined product requirements. Insufficient user testing. The list goes on. Many of these issues can be headed off simply by incorporating UX and user-centered design best practices in the product development process. But no matter how attentive your team is to its users, and no matter how airtight your approach, there’s another usability problem that is sure to materialize with time: design debt. 

Microcopy is an essential element of good UX design

Top 10 tips to produce effective, user-friendly microcopy

Chances are, your product team already pours ample resources into making your products as user-friendly as possible. You work hard to get the user flows and UI elements just right. But what about the verbal components of the interface? 

If you’re like many EdTech companies, microcopy — or the many verbal cues found throughout your product, from buttons to prompts and instructive overlays  — may be a last-minute consideration. This often means that microcopy is written on the fly, without rigorous guidelines or user testing.

UX team collaborating with EdTech product owners.

Avoiding Dependency Hell as product teams scale

For EdTech companies, the opportunity to develop single, enterprise-wide products is both exciting and potentially lucrative. But with bigger projects come bigger challenges throughout the UX process. With multiple UX teams, product teams and engineering teams all functioning separately within the same project, building products at a large scale opens a web of complex communication issues for the teams involved.

The Openfield team looks to other industries for best practices that will improve educational products.

Borrow cues from search, retail, gaming to improve UX in EdTech products

From administrative tasks like taking attendance and grading quizzes to features that enable students to learn and succeed, EdTech products have become more and more powerful. But that power can make these tools more complicated for users. Learn how to align tools with common mental models from search, retail, and gaming.

Design elements underscore the importance of universal design systems in EdTech products.

Evolving your design system over time improves team efficiency

Often, design systems are treated as “one and done” initiatives — drafted, agreed upon and set in stone. Many a design team has embarked on a fool’s errand, thinking they could anticipate every design need that may arise in the future. If you instead adopt a continuous release approach for ongoing improvements to guidelines, you essentially mirror the product development process itself.

CoursePoint interface

Refreshed UX aligns product with mental models of nursing instructors.

Wolters Kluwer sought to address issues with one of its products, Lippincott CoursePoint+. Openfield helped them identify problems which led to a realignment of the user flow to match the mental model of its instructor user base. In addition to helping them solve specific challenges with the product, we identified new UX processes that have resulted in them adopting new viewpoints and practices that will improve team efficiency and user satisfaction across their product suites.

The Openfield team helped establish the universal design language for Macmillan Learning's products.

Unified Design Language reduces disruption for students and instructors, increases efficiency for product teams.

From “many for many” to “one for all,” Macmillan Learning sought to simplify their products by creating a single common design language, elevating user experiences and advancing internal efficiencies along the way.