Words With Friends EDU adapted the commercial hit Words With Friends to improve 4th- to 8th-grade students’ vocabulary.
I helped design the product to be fun, educational, and on brand, working in a core team of only 7 people (mostly borrowed resources, including me).
Role and Responsibilities
- Lead UX Designer
- Full: IA, Flows, Wireframes
- Partial: Research, UI, Production
The product launched successfully, with a field-study report showing measurable learning gains in Language Arts.
One of the first challenges of the project involved fitting the UI for the key feature of WWF EDU, called Power Words, into the existing three-panel UI structure.
Not only did I consider the visual layout of the three possible options (left, center, right), I examined their interactions with other features in the UI to ensure the flows were smooth.
The ultimate decision to place the feature on the left panel proved correct as a feature developed later (Definition Hint) avoided similar UX problems.
To help students figure out and learn the Power Words they could play, I designed a flow that guided them to the answer without giving it to them outright.
It involved asking “What if…” questions at each step of the flow, fleshing out the edge cases for when students get stuck, and directing the user’s paths toward learning the Power Words.
These cases became different UI states that I wireframed before delegating to a fellow designer to complete the visual design.
To comply with child privacy laws, I needed a low-cost solution to replace profile photos with something that would not personally identify students.
Combined with our engineer’s expertise building avatar systems, our fellow designers’ illustration talents, and our product manager’s idea to integrate an educational component, this feature exceeded our expectations and became popular among our users.
- Teachers are heroes. On top of their stressful job, they patiently provided valuable insight on the best ways to engage with student and encourage learning.
- Delegation is vital in managing a project. As much I felt the need to hold my own, leveraging other teammates’ talents and including different perspectives led to a much better outcome.
During a major redesign of Words With Friends, something caused the core UI to become too large to fit the screens of at least 8% of users, making it unusable.
I audited the entire UI to uncover the causes, consulted other disciplines for possible fixes, presented design options to the team outlining the costs and benefits, and produced the approved solution.
Role and Responsibilities
- UX Designer
- UI, Prototype, Production
With this fix, we successfully launched the redesign, prevented the 8% of our users from leaving, and future-proofed the problem from happening again.
- Empathy for the users. CS reports offer invaluable insight into how users experience the product, and it’s most likely different than everyone on the team.
- The best solution requires all disciplines. Even though it was UI problem, I relied on the expertise of my product manager, engineers and everyone else on the team to find the optimal solution.