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My Role

Cornerstone decided to go back to it’s roots and create a new B2C online learning application - which was the same idea that had started the organization over 10 years ago. Working with a small team, we started the online learning company from scratch and with very limited resources.

My goal was to help create the best product experience I could, working with my team, on an entirely new product. We had to create the MVP within 3 months, that was ready for Beta usage. To focus not only on usability, but on giving people a delightful and meaningful experience.

I was the head UX Designers and lead two other UX designers. Together we defined interaction models, user task flows, and UI specifications. We communicated end-to-end experiences, interaction models, and screen designs to stakeholders. We also developed and maintained design wireframes, mockups, and the style guide.

Talking to Users

We first started interviewing users that have had experience with learning online. Participants were selected who had taken an online course within the last 6 months from an existing online learning service. Below is a high level summary of the findings.

  • The majority of participants wanted an organized course structure, with an overview of course objectives.
  • Most participants wanted the flexibility to learn at their own pace / schedule.
  • Many prioritized keeping track of their course progress.
  • The majority of participants we interviewed preferred to learn course material independently. (on their own)
  • Some participants desired more social interaction in e-learning.
  • There was no common trend with social network sharing about e-learning. No one posted any of their accomplishments on social media.
  • Some participants had little patience for bugs, etc. Some learned casually (multitasking, watching videos / TV on the couch)
  • Many participants expected free courses to be lower quality, and paid courses to be of higher quality.
  • The majority of participants were not willing to pay for a course out of pocket.
  • The majority of participants were motivated to learn by their careers.
  • Each learning session ranged from 20 min to 3 hours, with most participants spending about an hour when participating in online learning.
  • The majority of participants did not use mobile for e-learning, and only used desktop. A few liked mobile because they thought that being able to access courses offline, from anywhere, on any device, would be convenient.
  • Many participants enjoyed real-world examples of how to apply their learned skills.
  • Some participants sought quick and absorbable content / reference material.
  • When determining which courses to take, assessing quality was an important task.
  • Some participants sought online reviews and ratings to decide whether or not to take a course.
  • he majority of participants would only pay for a certificate if it were well-recognized and respected. (e.g. from a well known university or company)
  • Some participants did not think that certificates held much value.

Persona Identification

We used the interview findings to inform the development of  personas to support the design and direction of the experience for learners.  

Competitive Analysis

We conducted a competitive review of elearning websites to determine key elements that would benefit the design of our website, based on the objectives of learners and providers. 


Competitors and Positioning

  • Note different forms of content available in courses.
  • Cross compare available pricing options.
  • Explore differences between mobile and desktop.
  • Determine how competitors allow users to search for content.
  • Identify what course details are surfaced.
  • Compare different content player types and their features.
  • Determine how certificates attain value.
  • Investigate the effectiveness of persuasive design.
  • Discover how competitors assure quality of content.
  • Determine how competitors allow providers to sell content.

What Worked

  • On a learner’s dashboard, there is a balance to achieve between keeping users on track with the courses they are enrolled in, and getting them to sign up for additional courses. It is important to support learners in accomplishing their goals.
  • Displaying reminders and courses in progress on an activity feed helps keep learners on track. To pique the interest of learners, courses on their feed should be tailored toward their interests.
  • With so many courses, allowing learners to further refine their search criteria is a successful IA strategy.
  • In a pay-by-course payment scheme, the price and ratings of a course are especially important.
  • An overview of the course structure (including lessons, assignments, etc.), provides learners with clear expectations.
  • Speed control allows learners to watch the video as fast or as slow as they want to, giving them control of the speed of their lessons.
  • The rewind 10 seconds function allows learners to quickly recap on information that they may have missed.
  • Closed captions improve accessibility and allow learners to learn in less than ideal, noisy environments.
  • Discounts on annual packages, gifting, exclusive discounts, and indicating that a large number of students have enrolled incentivize buying courses.

What Didn't Work

  • Including too much information in video thumbnails and course details overwhelms learners and buries key points.
  • Requiring payment information for free trials can deter users.
  • Having excessive badges makes them less meaningful in gamification.
  • The design of a certificate significantly impacts its perceived legitimacy. Playful colors and childish fonts leave a less professional impression.
  • For certificates to mean something, they need to be affiliated with a prestigious institution, be well-recognized and respected, and/or have strict criteria for completion.

Created User Flows

Created Requirements

We determined high level tasks and user flows.

We created a list of user requirements and features.

Low and High-fidelity Comps

We then started to breakdown every page and sketch what we thought the experience should be. Then we shared our ideas and refined our designs.



  • 1st time users need to be inspired to take a course
  • They need to know what they can do
  • Clear Call to Actions (CTA) that help them advance
  • Both Learners & Providers will experience the homepage


  • Support finding courses - search & browsing
  • Have easy ways to purchase/ take a course
  • Showcase the wide variety of courses offered
  • Show the Course Guidance Tool


  • Provide inspiration to sign in/up to CyberU
  • Showcase the huge community of learners
  • Provide the option to “Create a Course” 
  • Inspire users to become a CyberU Provider

Homepage - Signed In


  • Returning users need to quickly get to their dashboard
  • They should can be inspired by additional CyberU options/promotions
  • Both Learners & Providers will experience the homepage


  • Provide an easy to find link to the dashboard
  • Provide a way to search and browse courses
  • Have easy ways to purchase/ take a course
  • Inspire learning
  • Show the Course Guidance Tool
  • Showcase the huge community of learners/providers
  • Provide the option to “Create a Course

Course Details Page


  • Allow users to get a “feel” of what the course is all about
  • Highlight what they’ll learn from taking the course
  • Purchasing or adding to a wish list must be easy
  • Clearly show if the course is part of a larger curriculum


    • A video trailer/ preview of course
    • User ratings / reviews (course & provider)
    • Overview & length of course
    • Course Price $$$
    • Level of difficulty
    • Ability to share course with friends
    • Ability to purchase/wish list
    • If a certificate is associated with the course
    • Recommendations for similar courses
    • FAQs about the course

What's Next?

We are currently in the process of applying branding and ui style guides to the wireframes. Stay Tuned!