Discovering Chinese Pro

Facilitate language teaching and learning with a progress tracking system.

My Roles:

Sole UX/UI designer

Sole Researcher

Project Manager

Team

Visual Designer x 1
Developer x 2

Home_Teacher_Lesson_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_Volume_shadow.png

My contributions

small highlight.png

When I first joined BetterChinese, one of the flagship products Discovering Chinese Pro (DCP) was at risk: the sales had been dropped in 3 consecutive years. Thus, I was tasked with improving its curriculum and digital platform to reverse the sales decline.

After a year's hard work, the new edition received an avalanche of positive feedback and the digital platform that I redesigned contributed to the
15% sales growth. The assignment and progress tracking system I introduce here is part of the platform's major redesigns I did.

Before

After

BACKGROUND

DCP was losing its edge...

Released in 2012, DCP is the first app-based curriculum for secondary school Chinese language programs. It was adopted by ten states as the official curriculum and used by 300+ schools districts, making it the best-selling digital textbook in the U.S.

However, DCP was gradually losing its edge:

Product Backlog.png

Endless to-dos in product backlog

It hasn’t been holistically examined to satisfy changing needs and higher standards though some urgent and easy improvements have been made.

Pie Chart.png

Competitors developed similar products

Competitors have started to develop similar digital platforms with more features and better deals, posting a threat to DCP’s market share.

Sales drop.png

Sales drop in
3 consecutive years

DCP’s sales had dropped in three consecutive years, which is the direct reason for our company to redesign it. The alarm bell was ringing!

THE CHALLENGE

Converting business goal to product goal

As the second revenue generator for our company, we had to safeguard DCP! While our sales and marketing team was seeking solutions from their perspectives, as a product designer and the editor who revised the new edition's curriculum, my mission was to convert the business goal of reversing the sales decline of DCP into our product goal.

DISCOVERY

What were the problems and what should we prioritize?

What were the most-mentioned problems? What problems should we prioritize given the resources and timeline? To answer these questions, I started off by assessing the current platform and reviewing the product backlog.

Home Old.png
Lesson.png
Speaking Practice old.png
Class.png

Current platform

DCP Product Backlog.png

DCP Product backlog

Early findings:

1. One version failed to serve two different needs.

Serving as a place to track students' progress, the teachers' home page showed the progress of their exercises instead of students'. Unsurprisingly, many complaints and requests recorded on the product backlog also pointed to this problem.

2. A slew of feedback was related to the assignment flow.
Some complained about the inconvenience of assigning homework, while others were annoyed at the assignment checking experience.

3. Outdated and inconsistent design language.
Designed in 2012, DCP could no longer align with users’ visual experience nowadays. Besides, the visual language failed to provide an consistent and lighthearted experience for users.

After I shared these preliminary findings in the stakeholder meetings, the whole team agreed on approaching them since they were the most critical and the most-complained problems.

DISCOVERY

Deeper understanding of user behaviors and needs

To better understand teachers' needs for tracking students' learning and the assignment flow, I interviewed 14 teachers in three categories for different purposes:

5

Teachers from product backlog

to dig into the reasons behind their requests and complaints

6

Most frequent users

since they have more experience using DCP

3

Big/potential subscribers

fulfilling their needs is critical for increasing sales

Hong.jpeg
Oliff Yi.jpeg

Collecting users’ feedback in the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference.

KEY FINDINGS

What specifically did users struggle with?

1

Narrow data source

Only data from students’ self practices. In reality, most students only did the exercises assigned to them.

2

Limited status of exercises

Only two statuses: completed & uncompleted. They were far from enough to evaluate students’ progress.

Home page problems.png

4

Incomprehensible timestamp

Recorded from the first day, the number would become giant over time, which was no longer meaningful.

3

Incomplete set of exercises

Only objective questions. Besides, these exercises were from only one of the two sections of the workbook.

5

Strenuous homework assigning and checking experience

Assignment Flow.png

1

5

2

3

4

2

3

4

A

B

When teachers assigned homework, they had to (flow A) go into each lesson to dig out the exercise. It took at least five steps to land on the page to set the assignment details. Similarly, teachers had to (flow B) go through at least four steps to check students’ assignments. As frequently-used features, this experience was annoying.

6

Hard-to-gauge students’ progress

Assignment flow.png

Students' performance data was scattered across different assignments because the data was organized from the assignment's perspective instead of the student's perspective. This way of organizing data made it hard to gauge students' progress.

Based on research, I reframed the research findings into a key problem statement to help me focus on users’ core needs.

What

Arrow.png

How might we provide comprehensive student learning information
in a meaningful way to facilitate teachers in supporting their learning.

Arrow.png

How

Arrow.png

Why

DESIGN PRINCIPLES

What experiences should we provide users?

Informed by the research insights and the product goal, our CEO and I developed four design principles, which served as the underlying ethos of the product and a guideline to how it looks, feels, and behaves.

image 38.png

Lively

Lighthearted & motivated look and feel

image 39.png

Unobtrusive

Simple & effortless transition to new design

image 41.png

Informative

Sufficient & meaningful student data

image 40.png

Empowering

Powerful tools to reduce teachers’ workloads

Introducing

Assignment and learning tracking system

A system that allows teachers to assign and review homework easily and monitor students’ learning from different perspectives to provide timely support.

*I further improved the designs after gaining professional training from the master’s degree in HCI, so the screens presented here are slightly different from its launch.

Home_Teacher_shadow.png
Home_Student.png
Home_Teacher_Lesson_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_Volume_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_Volume.png
Choose assignment_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_Lesson-1.png

What: Provide comprehensive student learning information

1. Incomplete Complete set of exercises

Home_Teacher_Volume.png
Home_Teacher_Volume copy 2.png

I expanded the three exercises from Review Session to 15 exercises from both Review and Practice Session. This covers almost all the exercises from the workbook.

Acronyms were used to signify exercise types. For example, L stands for Listening, S stands for Speaking, etc.

2. Narrow Comprehensive data sources

Multi data source.png

I added students' assignment data to this progress tracking system, which was originally not shown on the homepage. Together with the self-practice data, the platform provides sufficient information for teachers to track students' performances.

How: Present students learning information in meaningful ways

1. Exercises in two four statuses

Home_Teacher_Volume_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_Volume copy 3.png
Home_Teacher_Volume copy 4.png

While keeping the completed and uncompleted statuses in the original design, I introduced "need help” status, which I defined as exercises below 60 since these are usually the failing grades. Together with the grade pending, there are four statuses for each exercise.

2. Hard-to-gauge easy-to-gauge students’ progress

Home_Teacher_Volume_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_Volume_shadow 1.png

Individual student view

Home_Teacher_shadow.png
Home_Teacher_shadow 1.png

Whole class view

In addition to monitoring individual student’s learning, teachers need to track all students’ progress as a whole. Therefore, I designed an individual student view and a class view to cater to both needs.

Why: Facilitate teachers in supporting students’ learning.

Strenuous Effortless homework assigning and checking experience

Homework assign and check flow.png

I simplified the homework assigning and checking flow by creating a bulletin board with all the assignment-related actions and information on the homepage. Now, teachers only need one tap instead of going through five pages to assign homework and four pages to check students’ assignments.

Design System

Design System for ppt_grey bg.png

Outcome

The new system contributed to the 15% sales growth compared to the previous school year and has received many positive user feedback.

Testimony.png

Yan Liang
Washington International School, D.C.

"Thanks so much! The student management system saves me a lot of time."

Testimony.png

Connie Ngu
Cambridge Christian School, Florida

"The new homepage is a great addition to DCP and definitely made my job a lot easier now."

Testimony.png

Yi D. Oliff
St. Catherine's School, Virginia

"My students and I really like the new look and features. They are motivated a lot by using this online platform."

Testimony.png

Shirley Li
San Domenico School, California

"I've been using the DCP for four years. These new features facilitate my teaching and make student's learning more effective!"

Reflection

Product design is sooooo fun! 😍
DCP is the first product I designed. It introduced me to the world of UX and helped me quickly absorb product design knowledge and skills in a short time due to the tight schedule. I enjoy the process of solving problems. I love to talk to people and learn about their needs. I enjoy exploring different solutions and testing them with users. I feel fulfilled when I see my products solving users’ problems gracefully and bringing them pleasant experiences.

Don’t blindly follow existing solutions though they are the common practice.

I fell into this trap when I was determining which exercise data should be shown on the surface level of the progress tracking system if there are multiple results for a single exercise: the latest or the best one? Without a second thought, I followed the “industry practice” to show the best result, as most popular apps do. However, I found showing the latest result is a better solution for our use case in the later design evaluation phase.

Brought DCP to different national foreign languages teaching conferences