In Context: Elementary is Gale's elementary school product aimed primarily at 3rd through 5th graders. Because its competition had evolved past it in terms of both functionality and appeal, the business decided it was time for a redesign. Our goal with the redesign was to understand the needs of our youngest learners and how their teachers wanted to teach research skills. To do this, we needed to accomplish the following:
- Improve the browse path - read about that here
- Give users a reason to return for more than just specific research projects
- Make the platform eBook reader friendlier for young learners
Giving Users Reason to Return
It was important to us during the redesign that we gave users a reason to return beyond just the need for occasional research. To that end, we added the following:
- News – a section that updates daily with the latest news so teachers can easily find age appropriate current events to discuss
- Monthly Fun Facts – Prompts for interesting events, holidays, and people born in the current month
- "I Wonder..." Questions – sprinked throughout the browse path, these questions pose intersting questions that students can follow to get an answer and explore beyound the initial prompt.
Updating the eBook Reader
It was important to update our eBook reading experience because it was originally designed for college researchers and the needs of a 4th grader are vastly different than those of a PhD researcher. Some of the updates we made:
- Book pages that resize automatically to fit the screen size so there's no unnecessary scrolling
- Reduced number of buttons and made the remaining buttons bigger so students would immediately know what they could do (zoom in/out, page next/prev, and listen
- Enabled read-aloud technology so that no matter the book, it could be read out loud and students could easily follow along – especially important as at this age students are often still learning to read, rather than just reading to learn
Ask me more!
That's a lot about this project, but there's always more to it! I'd love to dive deeper with you on any of the topics above or any other aspect of this project. Here are some starters:
- How did we test with our youngest users and how is that different than with older researchers?
- Where did we work within the overall platform design and where did we diverge?
- The eBook reader improvements sound useful for all users, not just K5, why not update it everywhere?