How bad UX can kill your educational app. What you can do to avoid it?

UX, UX and UX. If you’re in the business of creating digital products then you probably stumble upon this term at least once a day. Yes, it’s a staple when building high-quality user-centric products (not just digital). We all know that.

  • But what could go wrong if you screw up UX whilst developing an educational product?
  • What can you do to improve the User Experience of your Edtech app?
  • And how important is the User Experience in Edtech?

What could go wrong if you screw up UX?

Let me be upfront with you. It may well kill your app. You see, unlike in Fintech and other industries, in Edtech $$$ isn’t the most critical metric for success. It won’t win you over investors by itself, and for sure it won’t bring any value to your users.

The key to success in Edtech is the ‘pedagogy’ of your product. How engaging it is and whether kids and teachers are still using it one year down the line?

Basically, before you even implement ‘tech’ in education you need to ask yourself one simple question.

Will it bring any additional value to your users?

If your users can solve a problem with pen & paper then is it really necessary to build an app for it? Will it give something additional to the users?

Btw, with Design Sprint you can create an interactive, hi-fidelity prototype of a product tested on real users.

Real cases of failed UX

Saila Juuti, head of UX at Kokoa Standard has vast experience working on UX projects with clients from around the world. Kokoa provides world-renowned certification for Edtech companies around the world. Get yours here

Kokoa Standard
Kokoa Standard’s Marika Kukkasniemi testing Ovobots robot for certification


Over the years she has come across many examples of lacklustre UX. Let’s look at some of them:

1. The system doesn’t save the teacher’s time – lack of automation

One Edtech trend is open platforms, where the teacher can create assignments for their students – such as open-ended tasks, multiple choice tests and so on. The purpose of these tests is to automate some of the teacher’s work.

A common error in these kinds of systems is the lack of feedback for students. The teacher may be able to set which of the three answer options is correct, and the software can easily create grades based on that, but there are no fields for explaining why one answer is correct and another is not. In the worst case, the system doesn’t even say which of the answers was correct.

A system which only provides points still requires the teacher to go through the questions with all the students – a time which they could use to give more personal support to those students, who actually need it more.

2. The system doesn’t scale to all of its target users

Edtech products often try to cater to a large target group. What works for a 10-year-old doesn’t necessarily work for 14-year-olds. The graphical representation, language used, complexity and so on should be optimized for the most reasonable target group. It’s quite rare that the same system will work for 6-12-year-old kids.

3. Failing is not fun – feedback is key

In systems which provide challenges or problems to solve, failing a challenge should be a point of learning. When a student fails, the system should provide helps to move forward and create positive excitement for trying again. This requires that the challenge level is optimal for the student and the feedback is helpful. In case it’s not, the previously mentioned scaling problem may exist as well.

What can you do to improve the User Experience of your Edtech app?

I asked again Saila from Kokoa and Paulina Tervo from Lyfta about some practical tips on streamlining UX in Edtech.

First up Saila. Below she shares her three tips for good UX in Edtech:

1. Tell your user clearly, which problem they are solving

The best motivation to use an app for learning is if you know what you are gaining from using it. For Edtech creators, this means keeping the learning goals clear. The teachers may want to know, how the content of your solution is linking different curriculum goals, but also the learners will be more motivated if they are provided clear descriptions of what they are about to learn.

2. Design for the classroom, not just for individuals

If your target group is schools, remember that the learning environment probably involves 20 kids all trying your solution at the same time. Make the launching process as quick and easy as possible, keep the navigation path simple and support searches and prompting of the content that the user has recently viewed. Designs relying heavily on sound may also be cumbersome in a classroom.

3. The details matter

Many school solutions fall into the category of “just good enough” UX. What sets the really good solutions apart from the rest is the amount of polish and effort put to finalizing the app. Consistent aesthetics, well written and informatic system messages, smooth transitions and non-intrusive help will make the user feel good about using your solutions. Game developers need to keep the users immersed in the world they have created, so take a look at how this final level of polish is done by them.

Over to Paulina now…

Paulina Tervo is the Co-CEO and Product Director at the award-winning company Lyfta. They help teachers tackle complex topics and measure attitude change in the classroom through stunning premium quality films, VR and AR technology and pedagogy based on Finland’s new Phenomenon-based learning curriculum.

lyfta app
Storytelling is key to Lyfta’s success.


Paulina told me the key to their success is down to three key factors:

  1. Storytelling – Lyfta’s founders have a background in filmmaking and that’s what helps them to connect emotionally with their customers. It also helps them to tell the story of their product better to their customers.
  2. Gamification & Exploration – Their app is playful and filled with real-life experiences at the same time. Children can explore and interact with different places around the world, interact with different objects, take a peek into people’s home, etc. The real-life content is presented in a playful and explorative way, which makes them quite unique in the Edtech world.
  3. Co-creation with teachers – Another important reason why Lyfta has nailed UX is by involving teachers in the product development process. This helps them understand what needs the teachers have, what technology they are currently using and whether they have any experience in using digital products. On top of that, every teacher is given onboarding on how to use their product.

And now to the final question.

How important is User Experience when creating Educational products?

You should already know that by now. UX plays a critical role when creating educational products. Learner’s goal’s and how easy the technology is for the teachers to implement are two critical factors for an Edtech product to succeed. Get those two right from the beginning and you’ll have a product which is scalable and loveable. On the other hand, if you’re off the track from the beginning, chances are your product will struggle with user engagement and retention in the long run.

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