2021-2023 · Founding Product Designer
During this time, I shaped the direction of the platform while building a design system from the ground up, hired and mentored design interns across 2 summers, and saw our community of learner and tutors grow from thousands to tens of thousands.
Schoolhouse.world is a peer tutoring platform that empowers middle and high-school students across the world to get help from their peers, and give back by helping others. As an alternative to paid tutoring, the platform leverages volunteering to help lower barriers for tutoring in math, SAT Prep, and more–while recognizing tutors through volunteer hours and college partnerships.
Leading design in an early-stage startup offered many lessons: in making tradeoffs between craft and business impact, in developing a flexible design identity for a middle and high-school aged audience that could evolve alongside changing priorities, and in advocating for thinking holistically and building intentionally within an iterative, fast-paced environment.
In collaboration with my team over two years, I shaped Schoolhouse from its early days as a MVP web application for joining tutoring sessions over Zoom into a more robust platform offering multiple ways for users to learn, connect, and work towards their educational goals.
Below are just a few notable projects I led at Schoolhouse. If you’re interested in hiring me for design work, I’m happy to share more detailed case studies upon request.
In the summer of 2021, shortly after I joined, we launched Series: a way for tutors to host multiple sessions in addition to our existing, one-off tutoring sessions.
Knowing that repeated meetings between tutors and learners improves engagement and learning outcomes, we created a generalized way for tutors to host study groups, crash courses, and bootcamps to meet with a group of learners on a recurring basis.
During this launch, I also re-organized the platform to make Series discoverable via a course catalog and developed the start of a new design system featuring a brighter look and feel that was appropriate for our youth audience.
Series became a flexible container for our team to experiment with modes of learnings in groups–including summer math prep sessions, and eventually, our SAT Bootcamp program which brought in tens of thousands of new learners to the platform.
In the winter of 2022-2023, our Head of Product and I conducted user research with the goal of assessing and consolidating our existing product offerings (structured SAT Bootcamps, community-led sessions and series, and on-demand live homework help), improving retention, and encouraging learners–not just tutors–to participate, feel invested, and give back.
In our research, we learned that learners experienced high barriers to the process of becoming tutors, but found meaning in participating and giving back in small ways within the sessions they attended.
This research culminated in the launch of an MVP of Subworlds, shifting Schoolhouse into a community-forward platform where learners can join sub-communities around shared learning goals such as learning Calculus, studying for the SAT, and more.
Within Subworlds, we consolidated live Zoom help, sessions and series, and asynchronous discussion into a cohesive experience where both learners and tutors can post questions, interact asynchronously through chat or synchronously on Zoom, and grow into more responsibility.
In parallel to product design work, I defined Schoolhouse's visual and brand identity. As someone whose expertise is not brand design, this was an interesting challenge in creating a system that resonated with our community under limited resources (e.g. without an agency or an in-house brand designer).
My goal was to create an identity that could be respected by adults and educators but also appeal to middle and high-school students, was easy enough to work with in internal and external teams, and captured a brand voice that was welcoming, playful, empowering, and reputable.
In fall 2021, I spent two weeks re-considering our brand identity and creating a logo that could better fit the look and feel of the new Schoolhouse. We built the apple-globe from simpler, geometric shapes and used Greycliff CF to match the geometry of the logomark while conveying a feel that's youthful, candid, and with a hint of softness.
As part of this deep-dive in to brand, I also wrote a basic brand resources guide that could be used internally by the full-time team and quickly shared with volunteers and external partners.
I also had the opportunity to practice illustration by creating images for the community blog. Our illustration style eventually settled into scenes built from geometric shapes, bold outlines, and simple perspectives–with the intent of being bright and cartoon-y without reading too young, while being easily modifiable and reusable on Figma. Shoutout to our 2021 intern Christy Hu for create reusable templates and visual elements for social media and marketing (some of which are used in these illustrations)!