An exam engine for cyber security

Enabling students to securely and remotely become accredited in their specific field.


The challenge

Working remotely isn’t the only thing that has changed in the recent years. Accreditations and being able to complete exams have become a requirement. We were challenged with trying to design a platform that is easy and intuitive to students to remotely complete exams, yet secure enough that the accreditation faculty was confident that the platform would remove any form of cheating.

The value

Working with cyber security students we knew that the audience of students are technical enough to be able to find holes. Being able to design a platform that is controlled enough that it risks mitigation was a key requirement in our design thinking.


We successfully launched the GIAC portal with the ability to take practice tests, schedule exams and most importantly take live exams online.

The exam engine we designed enables students to effectively complete their exams in a fully controlled environment with security as the main centre point.

Working alongside the SANS development team our co-developers and design team succeeded in creating a controlled environment that GIAC relies on to carry out remote exams.

"Working with Spinning Fox to deliver our product was a prime example of what happens when UX/UI design aligns with product strategy and engineering excellence to deliver business results that truly delight users."

Jessica Powers
Director of Product

Our process

Understanding students through research

To gain an in-depth understanding of the project and the vision for the new platform, we worked closely with GIAC to map out the process for how students were currently being set up and managed. We aimed to understand the different personas and identify any pain points they were currently experiencing. Our research showed us that there were a lot of confusing and often time-consuming processes. The admin team were working across multiple systems which left room for error and caused student confusion.

Giving students a voice

We conducted moderated user testing to understand various levels of students. We uncovered core pain-points and identified improvements that needed to be made around usability, UI design, marketing tone and key features.

Key features

Student experience

As part of building the exam platform, we redesigned everything from the portal to how students complete their certificates. It was essential for us to do in-depth research around gender, age, most used devices, types of exams, and other metrics to ensure we were catering to the various persona’s of the system. From there we based a lot of our decisions on exam condition rules and industry standards.

The exam engine

GIAC’s new exam experience provides candidates with improved features and functionality including step-by-step onboarding, enhanced exam functionality, a user-friendly exam toolbar, and customisable display settings.

Mapping the screens

We transformed the experience by organising information in a clear, logical way that aimed to guide students to frictionless navigation. We worked closely with different key stakeholders, students and the GIAC product team to identify key features and translated the requirements from user flows into high-fidelity designs.

Student user testing

We ran multiple rounds of moderated and unmoderated testing throughout the process to validate our designs.

Primary objectives

  • Validate the usability of the new design with GIAC candidates

  • Validate that new design enhances their experience when taking a practice test/live exam

  • Confirm we have improved the experience and not introduced any elements that are confusing or not useful to students

Delivering impactful results

“It looks beautiful and gives a lot of visual feedback on how much time is left, instructions about breaks and what to expect are crystal clear. I also like the embedded virtual machines.”

GIAC Student Feedback


Rated the User Experience as good or excellent

9 / 10

Would recommend GIAC's Exam Engine vs competitors

Component library

Both from a component library and design system, we focused and delivered a strong foundation with scalability in mind, that the client can leverage for years to come.


Research & discovery

Requirements gathering workshop, feature mapping, competitor analysis, building personas, stakeholder interviews, product strategy recommendations

Design phase

User flows, low fidelity wireframes, UI design and clickable prototypes


React application, Firebase, Testing & QA and Styled Components

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