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May 27th, 2021 · 7 min read

A look behind the scenes: Learner-centric design at InStride

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What role does research play in the product design process? Why is it important? 

  • Our quantitative research gets to the “what” with a situation by producing statistically significant patterns that help us understand what’s happening in the product or market at scale. For example, what are organizations across industries looking for in terms of workforce education solutions? Or, when going through our pathfinder in the InStride product, what’s the most popular answer learners give as to why they want to go back to school?
  • Our qualitative research reveals the “why” behind what’s happening in more detail. This dives into the rich contextual day-to-day lives of the learners we serve and helps answer questions that can’t be quantified with numbers. This data is used to understand human emotions, opinions, attitudes, challenges and motivations.

How do you design a solution that fits the needs of every learner?

Insight #1: A learner’s decision-making process isn’t linear.

Insight #2: Learners trust and rely on the stories of other learners’ journeys.

Insight #3: Well-defined ROI helps adult learners overcome their fears and time investment concerns.

How is InStride’s solution designed to support a diverse workforce?

  • Create accessible digital experiences for all. Aiming for AAA Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WGAC) success criteria with every design sprint, our team lays the foundation necessary for every learner to access and use our learner experience leveraging the following four principles:
    Perceivable: Everything can be perceived in more than one way. If a learner has limited vision or is blind, written content can be read by a screen reader. If a learner has partial hearing loss or is deaf, audio content has captions.
    Operable: Everything can be operated in more than one way. If a learner cannot use a mouse or touchpad, they can navigate by keyboard or voice command software. If a learner moves or reads slowly, they can request additional time to complete a task.
    Understandable: Everything can be understood. If a learner clicks on a navigation menu, it behaves like a navigation menu. If a button says, “Request Information” it does what a learner expects it to do.
    Robust: Everything can be updated to fit the latest technology advancements without breaking.
  • Foster belonging through representation. One way to help prevent exclusion in design is to use default representations to minimize the impact of stereotypes and tokenism. For example, equal representation exists throughout the physical and digital language of InStride’s brand through photography, illustrations, color palette, voice technologies, etc. While building the InStride brand experience, we focus on building a global experience rooted in the lives and experiences of many and avoid making assumptions about people’s identities or unnecessarily forcing them to categorize themselves.
  • Acknowledge potential for bias. Learning about and accepting the brain’s tendency toward bias is always a good step. From there, we guide our team to embrace an inclusive mindset by double-checking first impressions of how data and critique designs are interpreted. We also broaden our focus to see beyond what to expect and challenge assumptions often.
  • Become familiar with other people’s stories that are different from your own. This can be accomplished by referencing learner personas, taking time to learn the personal journeys of other team members, and reading (a great way to learn about the world without leaving your desk).

How does InStride address common learner and organizational challenges and barriers through product design?

The learner experience

Corporate partner experience

  • Visibility into where all learners are in their learning journeys
  • Status and profiles for specific learners in the education program
  • Tools to report and track overall budget

What is an interesting, and perhaps overlooked, research finding that organizations have a real opportunity to address?

instride and modernist studio research quote

Better together: Design innovation + workforce education

You can address talent development challenges