I got to wear a lot of hats at PrepFactory, with a focus on improving the product experience and acquiring new users. Since I was a rising high school senior at the time, I brought the perspective of the platform's target users to the table.
This is where I first learned what UI/UX design even was. I had experience in graphic design, so got to apply that to designing a better product for students like me. I made mockups on Powerpoint, which is crazy to think about now. Even though I could've used Adobe, I realized that Powerpoint suited my needs better at the time. It let me demonstrate a user flow, add comments, and present to the team.
Social, gamified standardized test prep geared toward high school students
To gamify the test prep experience and encourage users to return to the site, I added progress tracking and badge features. I took cues from Fitbit and Duolingo.
Studying vocabulary presented an ideal opportunity to further gamify the test prep experience. I knew that memorizing ACT/SAT vocabulary words was tedious and repetitive. To make it engaging, I designed a competitive vocabulary game for users to gain exposure to words in a competitive setting.
To first validate whether the game would increase user engagement, the MVP let the user play against a computer. The leaderboard displayed after each game encourages players to improve their cumulative score by playing more.
To grow our user base, PrepFactory built relationships with high school guidance counselors. This gave us consistent access to student users, as well as product feedback from the counselors themselves. Having seen year after year of students feed into the standardized testing pipeline, they were usually more aware of student pain points than the students themselves were.
We also learned that schools were increasingly focused on providing test prep resources, with some even creating dedicated prep courses. Counselors and teachers wanted ways to directly monitor and engage with their students on the PrepFactory platform. Based on these conversations, we began to develop an instructor dashboard.
At a time when I was starting out in UI/UX design, communicating directly with users and instructors was my first exposure to user research. I learned more about how to understand user needs and iterate on feature designs.