5 UX Strategies that Will Elevate Your EdTech Product

Foundational tips to help UX professionals create better learning experiences for EdTech.

Jan 24, 2024



min read

In recent years, the educational sector has faced some profound challenges, brought to the forefront by the global pandemic. The efficacy of our learning methodologies and the integral role of technology in education have been scrutinised internationally. This critical attention, coming from investors, founders, and governmental bodies, has presented a unique and pivotal opportunity for UX designers to innovate and redefine educational experiences. Presently, Education is projected to be a $7T+ industry by 2025 making it one of the world’s largest industries, making up more than 6% of GDP. This underscores the necessity for a robust and skilled UX and visual design workforce to support this growth.

EdTech is instrumental in realising this vision across diverse sectors. However, the field faces unique challenges due to the wide range of user demographics, a dearth of universally accessible best practices, and historical disparities in educational access and quality. Consequently, the design of successful educational products in this domain demands an elevated level of patience, expertise, and ethical responsibility.

To address these challenges, I propose five foundational, yet frequently overlooked, strategies to aid UX designers in crafting more effective and engaging learning experiences within the EdTech industry.

1. Embracing technology as a tool, not a focus

Similar to various sectors, the education industry has undergone a significant transformation, adopting the term "EdTech" to emphasise its commitment to technology and innovation. This nomenclature serves to distinguish contemporary educational practices and methodologies from their traditional counterparts, marking a clear shift towards a more modern, technologically driven approach to learning.

Regardless of whether one identifies with the traditional education sector or the emergent EdTech field, the underlying objective remains consistent: to facilitate learning. However, the strategies employed to achieve this goal can vary significantly. Central to this endeavour is a thorough understanding of the specific challenges and needs of learners. Only with this understanding in place should the potential application of technology be explored.

In recent times, there has been a notable trend towards prioritising the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in educational contexts. While the enthusiasm for such advanced technologies is understandable, it is imperative to first clearly define the educational challenges at hand. Once these challenges are identified and understood, the potential role of cutting-edge tools like AI can be more effectively evaluated and employed to enhance the learning experience. This approach ensures that technology serves as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, in the pursuit of educational advancement.

An experiment to check your bias:

Close your eyes and visualise a typical user in the Education industry. Consider their characteristics, their daily routine, their likes, dislikes, aspirations, and concerns.

Next, envision a user from the EdTech industry. Do they share characteristics with the Education industry user, or do they differ?

You might imagine the Education user as a student, teacher, or working parent, perhaps in a traditional classroom setting. In contrast, the EdTech user could appear younger, more fashion-forward, and tech-savvy.

However, when we presume that users in the Education sector are fundamentally different from those in EdTech, we inadvertently introduce bias into our designs, subconsciously attributing greater technological proficiency to EdTech users. It’s crucial to recognize that the end-users of both Education and EdTech products – those engaging with the digital experiences we create – are essentially the same. This realisation helps in designing solutions that are inclusive and unbiased, catering to the real needs of all users.


Focus on designing for the broader spectrum of Education. While it may not always seem as glamorous or cutting-edge, the impact on your users and the organisations that support them is profound and meaningful. Ultimately, this is what truly counts.

2. Co-create with learners

When working with EdTech companies, the end-user is rarely the person who commissions the work. More often than not, users have little choice in the products they use and are, at times, underrepresented in the design process.

As UX Designers, we bear the responsibility of crafting solutions that are not only intuitive but also inclusive and accessible to a diverse user base. Our role extends beyond mere design; it involves identifying, understanding, and empathising with users, and, when possible, involving them in the creation process. While this inclusive approach can be time-consuming, it invariably leads to more innovative solutions that more effectively meet user needs. Co-creation is key; it allows end-users to shape the solutions to fit their specific requirements.


For those looking to delve into the co-creation methodology, here are some resources to begin:

  • Explore community involvement in shaping personalised learning visions with insights from EdSurge.
  • Learn about the benefits of students co-authoring their learning journey on Getting Smart.
  • Understand the significance of student voice and co-authorship from the student's perspective at Getting Smart.

3. Learn to speak business

Balancing user needs with business value

EdTech products stand distinct from those in other industries. While users in other sectors may abandon a poorly designed product, in education, the actual users—students and teachers—rarely decide which products enter the classroom. Despite this, they rightfully expect tools that prioritise their needs.

The vast user base in EdTech amplifies the impact of UX design. Minor design issues, when scaled, can lead to significant costs through training, slowed learning, or the need for workarounds.

For UX professionals in EdTech, it's crucial to illustrate that strong UX is not just user-beneficial but also business-smart. Demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) for UX in EdTech is challenging due to:

  1. The privacy of EdTech platforms, which hinders public comparison and natural market competition.
  2. The political and bureaucratic intricacies influencing educational funding and contracts.
  3. The UX designer’s focus on user goals, which may not always align with business objectives.

Calculating the ROI of an EdTech solution is essential for securing business support. This necessitates a practical mindset from UX designers, balancing user needs with business requirements to ensure cohesive and aligned solutions.


In the co-creation process for EdTech design, it's essential to include not only the end-users but also business stakeholders and school decision-makers. Approach school board leaders and government officials with the same empathy and understanding as you would a student. Recognise their unique and vital role in shaping educational experiences. By empathising with these key figures, you can better align your designs with their perspectives, leading to more effective and comprehensive learning solutions.

4. Look outside of EdTech for inspiration

Looking at best practices from other industries can bring fresh ideas to EdTech.

In education, students are often encouraged to "think outside the box," yet paradoxically, EdTech product design frequently remains confined within the box.

Seeking inspiration from diverse sectors can catalyse ongoing innovation and the evolution of best practices and strategies. For instance, platforms like EdTech Impact enable the learning community to compare educational products and tools. However, these platforms often face challenges in engaging EdTech companies to participate actively. Increased involvement from influential figures could spark healthy competition, simplifying and enhancing the design process.


There's much to learn from the design elements of popular mobile games, particularly their user interfaces and gamification strategies. These insights can be instrumental in creating educational apps that foster active engagement and motivation. Similarly, e-commerce platforms' personalised recommendation algorithms offer valuable lessons for developing adaptive learning systems tailored to individual needs. When designing tools for school administrators, look to the finance and travel sectors for innovative ideas. Inspiration is everywhere.

5. Diversify your experiences

Diversity encourages better UX practices

Bringing together teams that have a diverse range of experiences helps to bring more perspective to a solution.

There's a common belief in the education sector that the best solutions come from those with a background in education. However, UX designers need to remain inquisitive and challenge norms. Becoming complacent within a single sector can lead to acceptance of the status quo. In contrast, UX design principles are adaptable across various industries.

Take Spinning Fox as an example. In the past year, our team has diversified its experience by working on projects like:

  • a garden planting recommendation app
  • a platform for business candidate selection
  • an app for gamers to place wagers

While we don't claim expertise in gardening, gaming, or recruitment, these projects have broadened our understanding of different user needs and business objectives, allowing us to centre our designs around them.

This cross-industry exposure trains UX professionals to be flexible in their process, enhances self-awareness, reduces biases, and widens the scope of inspiration.


For those primarily experienced in the education sector, it's beneficial to explore digital products and solutions from other industries. Engage in research, brainstorm design ideas, or delve into literature to expand your horizons and perspectives.

Advancing the quality of UX and design is a shared responsibility

In the quest to enhance digital EdTech products, it's imperative to also focus on elevating industry standards. The most effective way to enrich learning experiences on a broader scale is through the collective sharing of research, designs, ideas, and feedback. Embracing transparency and fostering a supportive community among designers are key to achieving transformative success at a higher level. By pooling our resources and insights, we can drive meaningful progress in the EdTech field, benefiting learners and educators alike.

Image by Kristina Pedos.

the author

James Marshall

Managing Director

James has over 15 years of agency experience partnering with global clients such as Dyson, Adidas, Nike and PepsiCo. He has also lead product teams in the delivery of solutions such as the HSBC Mobile Banking App and the Nike Running Club app.