My client, a developer friend, was hoping to establish a visual language for an educational app he'd developed in rough wireframes. His aim was to create an experience that could help children learn and study grade school math via timed challenges. Once I dove into his sketches and a rough, wireframed prototype he'd developed, I posed as to whether or not the overall user experience needed depth—his version just had kids answering questions and then checking against a summary sheet without a sense of accomplishment or progression. I proposed that might equal little engagement—especially from kids whose attention could be fleeting when faced with other mobile distractions.
To start, I walked my own kids (at the time, ages 7, 5 and 4) through the prototype and asked about each step, watching as they interacted with the working wireframe. They seemed to be looking for a) validation for having completed a test, and especially completing it successfuly; b) reward or visible achievement for said completion and c) encouragement or enticement to try another and continue engaging with the app. Playing other mobile games in this age demographic, as well as watching my children and their friends interact with online learning tools like Lexia Core5, Spelling City and others, only supported my hypothesis—each of those tools provided a deeper level of progression and accomplishment as users continued through levels and/or lessons—tools that my Math Done Write lacked.
To that end, I proposed several key revisions to the loops and flows in order to create a more appealing experience for those wishing to learn and progress through more complex levels as their own math education progressed in school and real life. I combined it with a visual style geared towards younger audiences (brighter colors, appealing avatars, rounded text). In addition, I brought in the iconography of the stopwatch to indicate the timed nature of the final quizzes for which users would be rewarded upon completion. Finally, I suggested and mapped a journey for multiple users sharing the app on a single device—for instance, what if my 7 and 5 year olds both wanted to use MDW on my iPhone? How would we chart separate progressions?
The client released an initial version of the app into the App Store this past May, and since then I have taken it upon myself to iterate even further (the original colors are duller and more washed out than need to be (a brighter palette is more eye-catching and engaging for younger audiences); he used different avatars than the ones I'd proposed; still ironing out the second user feature and avatar progression/unlock). A new prototype can be viewed here.