ARTICLE: Trevor Minton

How Openfield gets quick wins while tackling long-term solutions for strategic EdTech product growth

Following a period of reticence toward spending on longer-term strategic initiatives in favor of quicker wins, we believe there is pent up desire to tackle bigger picture initiatives. But the need to scrutinize big moves feels more important than ever as investment in the EdTech sector continues to reset to normal pre-pandemic levels.

That means investors, stakeholders and buyers are seeking safe bets on viable solutions to well-researched user needs. Whether you are an early, mid, or late-stage EdTech product, you can't afford to have a declining user experience. You need to address urgent UX issues before they translate to dwindling users and plummeting sales. At the same time, you need a strategic foundation that addresses critical business objectives.

Openfield Can Help Triage Immediate UX Emergencies While Also Supporting Long-Term Strategy

Openfield specializes in UX research and design for EdTech. Founded in 2006, we’ve worked with EdTech companies to quickly resolve specific user experience problems in the short term. At the same time, we tackle complex challenges such as scalability, product innovation, dashboarding and data visualization, and design systems. Our goal is to resolve UX issues as they arise without taking our eye off long-term strategy.

Common UX emergencies that lead to major user pain points

Fire extinguisher putting out a fire that represents a user pain point.
  • You need help quickly assessing the cause of growing user discontent after a recent release.
  • Accessibility compliance issues are a looming threat to acquiring and retaining customers.
  • The load on your CX team is unmanageable due to misalignments with users' mental models.
  • New users are abandoning the registration or onboarding process.
  • A competitor released game-changing features and you’re worried the disruption may cause your users to abandon your product in favor of theirs.

How we address acute user pain points

Your users’ acute pain points must be addressed immediately to mitigate more serious long-term damage such as product abandonment and lost sales. Openfield helps EdTech teams quickly scope projects to alleviate problems. This allows us to triage the biggest issues that will make the greatest impact for your users while setting your team up to minimize future acute issues.

We’ll give you an example. Our client Wiley Publishing wanted to streamline the registration process for their EdTech platform, WileyPLUS, to improve their user experience — and boost revenue. Previously, Wiley had to augment their customer experience (CX) staff every registration period to assist students struggling with a complicated registration flow.

WileyPLUS Student Registration Results

  • 80%reduction in support tickets

  • 28user testing sessions

  • 12key UX improvements

After meeting with Wiley's CX team and observing students during the registration process, Openfield pinpointed the problem areas and designed specific UX solutions to simplify those registration pain points. Through our work on the onboarding experience, the client was able to decrease their number of support tickets by 80 percent, without needing to completely overhaul the product experience.

Common long-term UX wellness challenges

A simplified roadmap showing activities slated for different quarters of the calendar year.

  • You’re planning improvements to support new user acquisition but you want to ensure existing users aren’t turned off.
  • You need help ensuring short-term product improvements don’t conflict with long-term strategic initiatives.
  • You need help spurring innovation through co-creation sessions with users.
  • You need an outsider’s perspective and expertise to help you better define task flows, user flows, and journey maps that enable stakeholder alignment.
  • Your team is fully resourced but you need help scaling to meet the demands of new initiatives or unforeseen problems.
  • You need strong design guidelines to resolve a build up of design debt resulting from ad hoc changes to your product.

Support for long-term UX wellness and business growth

Many clients approach us after going through multiple product releases plagued by urgent user experience issues. They want to overhaul their UX research and design process to prevent acute problems from recurring. They can't afford to have their teams distracted from meeting core business goals.

In some cases, our longstanding clients are able to take more calculated risks because their UX is stable. Our client iClicker was one of those clients. Their handheld remote device already demonstrated high usage among students, but they didn’t want the experience to become static. They envisioned an entirely new digital experience that would spur even more student engagement. Openfield designed a student response and engagement product that quickly became the #1 engagement solution on the market and used at over 1,100 institutions worldwide.

How to Know Whether We’re the Right Fit for Your EdTech Company

In our experience, long-term relationships are full of short-term needs. For most clients, they require a combination of both quick wins and long-term strategic work. New user problems can arise unexpectedly, requiring a quick pivot in strategy. We work best with clients who understand that an ideal user experience requires both tactical work and big-picture strategy.

On the tactical side, strong UX research and design is obviously essential. But to really excel, product leaders must address longer-term issues. This can include elements like roadmap planning, product innovation, and setting up the right UX research program to more deeply understand the way their users actually think and work. Our ideal partners are game to hammer out the details to get quick wins, but they also think holistically. Both mindsets keep their teams focused on established roadmap and business goals.

To learn more about how we've helped EdTech product teams like yours move the needle, check out these results.

Questions You May Still Have About Working With Us

You may have questions or hesitations about working with a UX agency. Here are the most common ones.

Have a question that we haven’t addressed here? Reach out to our team.

  • 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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