'Pulse' - Pearson

'Pulse' is a 'learning management system' (LMS) for emerging markets like Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa. It was designed for primary and secondary school students and teachers, it needed excellent performance (for slow Internet connections) and a seamless experience across small and large screen devices via a responsive website (and native app). The UX (from concept through to design, interaction patterns through to architecture) was OldWorld's.

Client industry / sector: Education / eLearning
Client location: Holborn, London
Project delivery time: 14 months

Service/s provided: UX design / UX consulting / User testing



Discovery

Through early stakeholder engagement, attention was paid to learning the product objectives, identified target users, researched comparative products, providers and services, allowing the undertaking of exploratory design. OldWorld also participated in workshop sessions with key stakeholders to solidify the goals of the business, identify challenges and answer as many unknowns as possible.

Later in the project, Evan brought in a dedicated UI designer to skin the mobile app, and helped the business select an external development (and design) agency to skin and build the responsive website.


An image of UX wireframes displayed via mobile phone screens
Image: Sample wireframes of the small-screen responsive view of the teacher user-type. These screens demonstrate pages that allow teachers to see student progress for a given task, browse and assign lesson material from a database, and manage tasks, all from a single entry point.

Challenges

No similar Pearson product existed, nor had Evan designed this kind of product before - it was new for all those involved. During the project, the work was partly via Agile Sprints (when working with the design agency) - where the UX solution, visual design and then front-end markup would be aligned in order to be developed. Otherwise the work was organically driven.

This was a high-level and visible project with many senior stakeholders engaged throughout. There was much stakeholder input and commentary early on. In order to mitigate this Evan documented and shared design reasoning - later validated through user testing, upon which the results were shared, therefore heading off challenges based more in opinion than qualified design authority. This established trust and confidence in the work, so business efforts could focus elsewhere.


Outcome

The product launched successfully in the pilot market of South Africa before being rolled out to other regions and is now in the capable hands of the in-house Pearson team and continues to be a core part of the Pearson’s educational offering. A success by any measure.


An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
Image: Another work-in-progress wireframe showing the large-screen responsive view of the class page for the teacher user-type. It was a page designed for teachers to create, assign and mark lesson tasks. The image reveals a snapshot in time of the evolution of the UX-led creation of Pearson 'Pulse'. Iterative design was necessary to cater to the changing nature of the business requirements, meaning this design would evolve throughout the design phase.

The process

OldWorld approached this (and all design) by first applying what we might call - 'design thinking', then sketching with pen and paper. This process includes journey flows, function, interactions, page templates etc. before finally producing digital wireframes. Sometimes these wireframes are static, sometimes they're interactive - it depends entirely on what is being conveyed and to whom.

This process then involved iterative design cycles as further insight emerged - naturally adapting design patterns, interactions, logic and flows to cater to the new requirements. The UX solutions naturally informed the visual design undertaken. The visual designer brought in and the visual designer from the development agency, and me, worked closely to iterate the solution at microscopic level to better the various components and pages.

OldWorld engaged a user testing agency to facilitate user testing sessions via interactive wireframes, with teachers and school age children in order to test assumptions and validate UX approaches. Further user testing was conducted overseas in South African schools by liaising with a local Pearson UX designer who tested directly with the local target audience and fed the insights back to us in London.


"Evan provided us with a great UX service during the early development of an online learning platform. He was thorough, patient and easy to work with; his designs were well thought out, clear and showed the mark of a real understanding of our varied users."

Digital Product and Engagement Manager – Raegan Muskett

Learnings

The engagement saw Evan engaging with teams in London, Houston, Johannesburg, Brighton and New York over Google Hangouts regularly, with some face-to-face meetings in Brighton and London.

OldWorld gained exposure and expertise in computer-based education and its growing adoption in areas of the world one might expect otherwise. The project exposed us to Moodle CMS - the platform that 'Pulse' was built on. Insight was also gained into age-specific design (young students vs teachers) and industry-specific users and behaviour.


An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
An image of UX wireframes displayed on a computer monitor
Image: A selection of visual designs for the student user showing an approximate journey of signing in through to completing and submitting a task.

This project engagement was defined as being Outside IR35 - 100% contractor control (OldWorld Creative Ltd retained control and direction over work produced, working patterns and project delivery, and was not client-office-based) as per correct contractor practices.