A solution for Scholastic designed to motivate kids to read outside the classroom
Books have a lot of competition these days. ReadLeader is the book club, re-invented to motivate kids to read outside the classroom.
THE PROJECT BRIEF
Scholastic has a storied tradition that has been strong since it was founded in 1920. They have begun embracing technology to enhance reading experiences inside the classroom in Storia, a reading software for teachers. However, the current problem lies within increasing readership outside the classroom.
I worked on this project with Leslie Forman, Zain Ahmed at General Assembly in 2014. We started out by defining two key goals for this project. The first goal was to expand on Scholastic's approach to technology in a way that extends the excitement around books provided by the company's infamous book fairs. The second goal was to design a solution to increase readership outside the classroom.
- User Research
- Project Management
- Persona Development
- Feature Ideation
- Wireframe Development
- Usability Testing
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
How might Scholastic take full advantage of technology to maintain reading engagement outside the classroom?
We knew that we had to dig deeper into the mental model of children and ask some crucial questions in order to figure out our design direction.
- What motivates children?
- How does technology impact a child's behavior?
- Are children looking for recognition?
- What factors keep children engaged in activities?
- What ages suffer from a lack of readership?
We started investigating by talking to some people who have dealt with children and have observed their reading habits.
Their insight led us to a bigger, overarching problem - as kids get older, they simply read less.
We surveyed one hundred kids ages 6-12 at a private school in San Francisco.
One of the questions asked:
What would make you read more outside of school?
a. If reading were a game and I could win prizes.
b. If I had a reading mentor or partner.
c. If I was part of a reading club.
REFINING INSIGHTS & NEEDS
When we combined our research and ideas to form a theory, we realized that engagement carries just as much, if not more weight, in increasing readership as the motivation element.
Based off our heuristic evaluation and survey synthesis, we created opposing personas that all reach for the same goal - to generate the momentum and excitement around reading outside the classroom.
ReadLeader is an extension of the reading experience and is designed to increase readership in two ways that we found are important to readers: through games and having the ability to share their thoughts and ideas.
We designed the "chapter challenge" feature as a means of interactivity between completing one chapter and starting a new one. This gives way to the motivation and recognition factors that complement an exciting reading experience. A chapter challenge can be a cross word puzzle, word search, or another fun and simple game that requires the reader's knowledge of plot twists, characters, and events of each chapter.
Our virtual re-design of the Scholastic book club supplies a community of engagement. The "secret conversation space" is unlocked by the completion of a chapter challenge. To avoid spoilers, the chapter challenge verifies that that the reader has indeed completed the reading, and yields an invitation to enter a conversation space where other readers share their thoughts and reactions.
Nope, ReadLeader is not an ebook application.
We refined our design goals and focused on decisions so that we were designing for business and user needs alike.
Scholastic relies heavily on the nationwide school book fairs to generate book sales, so we designed ReadLeader as a complement to printer books - not a replacement of them.
MAPPING OUT THE USER JOURNEY
DESIGNING FOR CHILDREN
When we decided to target middle school-aged readers, we had to bare in mind that there are strict privacy policies and regulations for apps that are used by children under the age of 13.
I took a close look at the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to make sure that ReadLeader's application protocol was in compliance with the following highly important considerations.
As a result of my research of COPPA, we re-evaluated ReadLeader's on-boarding process and applied the principles of the policy to ensure the safety of readers under 13, as well as the trust of their parents.
When a user inputs an age under 13 years old, the application prompts them to provide their parent's email address in order to move forward.
A verification is then sent to the user's parent or guardian, to inform them of their child's activity and participation in using ReadLeader.
To the right are some wireframes for a flow I designed to solve this problem.
Throughout the iterative design phase, we identified a number of important next steps to consider.