Why understanding the problem space is crucial in EdTech design

A look at EdTech UX and the importance of empathising, researching and designing for users.

Jan 23, 2024



min read

Navigating the EdTech landscape demands a recognition of a fundamental principle: the disparity between our experiences and the collective experiences of our user base.

Design decisions influenced by personal bias are an occupational hazard. While our experiences can offer valuable insights, they represent only a small part of learner experiences and needs.

The critical role of the problem space

Prior to the conceptualisation of any design or development, a thorough grasp of the problem space is required. The field of education is layered with complexity, with learner experiences being heterogeneous and influenced by various factors including cultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, cognitive abilities, and emotional states.

Embracing the diversity of users

The mantra "We Are Not Our Users" must be ingrained in our thought process. Designing with the assumption that our personal experiences align with those of the wider user population can misdirect our design strategies, yielding solutions that might not effectively address the actual needs of learners.

Leveraging empathy and in-depth research

Empathy stands as the cornerstone of user-centric design. When coupled with extensive research, it enables us to adopt the perspectives of our users to understand their unique circumstances. Identifying the challenges they face, their sources of motivation, and the hurdles in their educational journey is crucial to developing solutions with a real-world impact.

Beyond surface-level understanding

My journey has reinforced the value of delving deep into the problem space, beyond initial perceptions and assumptions. It is only through active engagement with a diverse user group, collecting varied insights, and rigorously questioning our biases that we can design solutions that are truly effective and resonant.

Continuous learning and adaptation

As UX designers in the EdTech space, it is imperative to foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptation. We must always strive to broaden our understanding of the educational context we are designing for, seeking out new data, observing emerging trends, and adapting our solutions to the ever-changing landscape of learner needs.

The importance of iterative design

An iterative approach to design, characterised by repeated cycles of testing and refinement, is essential to ensure that our solutions remain relevant and effective. It encourages a dynamic design process that responds to feedback, adapts to new insights, and evolves in conjunction with user requirements.

Commitment to user-centric solutions

Ultimately, our responsibility extends beyond the functional aspects of design. We must commit to creating solutions that not only solve problems but do so in a way that is accessible, engaging, and supportive of the user's educational journey. Our mission is to serve as facilitators of learning, to bridge gaps in understanding, and to illuminate pathways for knowledge acquisition and retention.

In conclusion, our daily reminder should be a dedication to understanding—a commitment to seeing the world through our users' eyes and responding with solutions that meet them where they are. Our success as EdTech professionals hinges on our ability to listen, understand, and then create with clarity and purpose.

Image by Louise Nguyen.

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.