WEB-BASED CHILDCARE SAAS PRODUCT
A solution for both parents and teachers: parents easily stay informed on their child’s daily activity in childcare with real-time features, and teachers are able to manage their classroom reports and respond to parents’ requests.
The goal of this project was to create a web-based SaaS product for parents to stay informed on their child’s daily activity in childcare, and for teachers to manage their classroom reports and respond to parents’ requests. As a solo project, my role included all phases of the design process including ideation, strategy and design layout.
Role and Responsibilities
User research, ideation, strategy, prototyping, branding, visual design
Wireframes, Prototypes, App overview via Stakeholder Presentation
Figma, InVision, Adobe CC
Parents of children in childcare want more connection, control, and involvement in their child’s daycare while they are gone all day. On the other hand, childcare teachers have to keep track of and maintain records of children whose parents want daily status updates and communication, whichis hard to do manually with large groups of children.
Since this project was a rapid design sprint, I simply conducted brief research on childcare businesses in the United States and worked under the assumptions of this data. Ultimately, my findings suggested that the software should target 18-45 year old males and females, since this is the biggest age group for parents with children in childcare, and that they are generally quite comfortable with technology.
I created a web-based SaaS product for parents to stay informed on their child’s daily activity in childcare, and for teachers to manage their classroom reports and respond to parents’ requests. The solution taking the form of a web-based software was chosen to accommodate the device that most parents with children and teachers in daycare would access (desktop/tablet). This piece of research was found after completing initial user surveys.
Parents access real-time and historical activity of children
Parents and teachers create and view daily schedules
Childcare teachers upload and manage activity and report information for each child
Parents view live videos of each childcare room
Teachers manage access for each live viewer of the childcare rooms
Parents access live video check-ins with their child
Childcare teachers edit individual child's status and attendance at any time
Parents upload child's medical history and important information
Parents and teachers communicate via messaging
Parents get notified whenever there is an important status update with their child
Discovery and Research
Data from user surveys via Google Forms informed my user stories and user flows, and guided major design decisions, such as which device to prioritize optimization for and the motivating factors for my target audience to use a childcare software.
With this insight, I made major design decisions such as:
Parental-access features for full insight into their child's day
Which device to prioritize optimization for, based on where users are most likely to access the software in their daily schedule
User Survey Findings
I concluded my survey results with the knowledge that much of our target audience use childcare as a means to look after their children while they're away (work, traveling, etc.) and less because they'd like some downtime to themselves. With this in mind, it made sense as to why the user tests showed that devices such as desktops, laptops, and iPads would be used over mobile devices. For the parent and teacher who's working, they're less likely to be able to pull out their phones but can more easily access the laptop, desktop, or iPad that they're working on.
Agile User Stories
To tap into the psychology of our users and better understand what their needs look like, I pursued user stories for both parents and childcare workers. The product is only effective if childcare centers are signing up and implementing its features. Parents are the second line of the product’s customers, using the features that are managed by childcare centers.
Key Business Requirements
The software should provide several real-time features: live video, attendance status, location and agenda
The software's features should be mirrored for both parents and teachers, with different viewing/editing abilities
Run a design sprint to produce an MVP
Create the user interface and implement visual design
Implement features for both parents and teachers
Time: The turnaround time for this project was allocated a maximum of 2 weeks
Budget: No budget was allocated toward any user research, which meant being resourceful in crafting materials and in user testing participant selection
Based on my limited demographic and psychographic research, I was able to define two main personas that I felt would epitomize the software’s primary users.
User A: Parent
User B: Childcare teacher
User Journey Mapping
I designed journey maps to further visualize all touchpoints our users might encounter. By applying empathy to each phase of their experience, I considered what should be designed in order to facilitate users’ overall experience and make the software uncomplicated and engaging through their unique journeys.
User A: Parent
User B: Childcare teacher
In order to create a shared understanding of user needs and aid in decision making, I created empathy maps for both user types in order to create a visualization of our particular users.
User A: Parent
User B: Childcare teacher
To guide my wireframes, a comparative analysis of user interfaces was conducted between 4 leading competitors also offering childcare software.
Using the same brands above from my comparative analysis, I conducted a competitive analysis and noticed they all seemed to miss several key features that parents look for when signing up for a forward-thinking childcare software. This leaves the only option for users: to settle for the software that checked off the most features.
In order to create a solid foundation for which my designs would play out, I used multiple strategies of information architecture to practice user-centered design that would remain relevant and intuitive for our users.
I constructed task-based user flows in order to map these pathways and better visualize the user's experience and to lay out the foundation of our users’ movement throughout the software.
This phase mapped out the final solution through exploration, ideation, and refinement of the app’s layout.
During the beginning stages of the sketching process, I reviewed all of the user variations to fit the key requirements of the project and then created sketches that would encompass the overall user flow for both users (parents and childcare teachers).
After better understanding our users, the structure of the app is designed through wireframes to serve as the blueprint for the final design. The wireframes will contain the information architecture and content strategy for our application
I wanted to create a layout that would be simple for both parents and teachers to use and navigate, especially considering that they would both be accessing this software during a busy day and the guess work would need to be taken out of where to view/input information.
In order to find out what worked, what didn’t work, and what needed to be fixed in the current version of the app, I performed usability testing with participants to test my assumptions and fail early. This would provide me with the vital feedback I needed to create new iterations. I composed pretest questions to introduce the prototype and concept, then created a list of tasks for the users to complete via Zoom meetings as they moved through the prototype. Users were chosen based on my earlier target audience analysis.
USER A: PARENT
USER B: CHILDCARE TEACHER
Average % of task successes: 92%
Average % of task failures: 8%
Average amount of extra time taken to complete tasks: 2 seconds longer
Branding and Styling
After researching our target market and planning for design, I made use of our position as both a childcare and tech-based software to reach our audience visually through bright and clear UI. This strategy was meant to appeal to both parents and teachers as I branded Aerial as a trustworthy, reliable software, no matter which user category you fell into.
Brand Name and Logo
The name "aerial" was coined after considering our target market and their priorities when it came to childcare: one of them being transparency in their child's daily activities. This led to the idea that the name should suggest transparency, or a bird's-eye view of children's daily schedule. The decision to leave aerial all lowercase came after realizing that, visually, the name in all lowercase letters looked softer and resembled the shape of a cloud in comparison to the sharp point in a capital A. Backboarding off of this, the cloud was chosen as a main symbol in aerial's logo to further represent the bird's-eye view symbolism in the name's meaning.
Two different typefaces were chosen for this project: a medium-weight serif font and a light-weight sans serif font. I chose this typeface combination to represent both users: the teacher, with a traditional educational outlook (serif) and the parent, with a straightforward, uncomplicated approach (sans serif). I considered that the personality of each font should not create undue attention, choosing Domine Regular as a no-nonsense typeface, in contrast to being dynamic and outspoken. Complementing Domine Regular is Work Sans, also focused on no-nonsense clarity with highly-readable glyphs. Typeface was a user interface priority in a project of this scale, as any tension can take away from the overall conversion rates of a software that is already asking for unique attention in many other places.
The color palette was chosen based on color psychology expressions: wisdom and trustworthiness. Parents and teachers want to feel educated and reassured in their choices, most especially when it comes to the children they're responsible for. The colors were then tested for accessibility via WebAIM. During usability tests, several users provided positive feedback, stating that it made the software feel "techy" yet "childlike" - which is what they would want out of a reliable childcare software.
The mood board was curated to show aerial's fundamentals: security, childlike expression, and the omniscient view of candid moments in a childcare setting. Some visuals were chosen with the new color palette in mind, so as to not lose sight of where the brand was headed.
Suggestions made during User A and B testing concerning live check-ins drove some refined solutions for the next design iterations: Include ability for teachers to propose new time for live check-ins.
DESIGN ITERATION #1
User feedback: Users pointed out that the check-in request status message appeared immediately, but wanted to know what it would look like if their request wasn't acknowledged so quickly.
Iteration: Create an immediate pending notification as well as a notification icon in the side bar menu when the status changes (accepted or denied.)
DESIGN ITERATION #2
User feedback: Users suggested that teachers should be given the ability to propose a new time for check-in requests if the parents requested at an inconvenient time.
Iteration: Give User B the ability to accept / decline / propose a new check-in time, with a confirming status message after an action has been chosen.
This B2C software was my first experience designing for a SaaS product, which gave me the opportunity to design for the particular needs of this type of target market. Particularly, content strategy and designing the landing page was prioritized in order to stand out among existing softwares and create high conversion rates.
Next steps for improving the software
Consider adding option after User A requests a live check-in: request a specific timeframe for availability
Design for a User C: childcare owners and directors
Design for mobile
Learning opportunities that arose from this project
Communicating clearly via strong copy throughout every step in the app is vital to building trust with the user
Being open-minded and implementing user feedback early ensures the best and most user-relevant outcome for the rest of the design process
Conducting in-depth competitor analysis and analyzing their current users’ pain points will drive the user experience process forward by highlighting gaps in the market