RM Education

Seamless creation of high-stakes exams

6 months
Senior Product Designer

Exploring new markets

Every year more than a million people globally receive their exam results thanks to RM Results. Their multi-award winning e-marking platform RM Assessor, designed in partnership with White October, is the most widely used and highly-rated marking software in the world.

The success of the Assessor project led to RM Results returning to White October again when looking to establish themselves in a new market. We were commissioned as a strategic UX partner, uniquely positioned to help shape a program of work that involved developing products and services for exam authoring, delivery, and analytics.

Our initial brief was to gather insights and validate needs for exam authoring on tablet devices, so we started with an extended discovery phase, using the double diamond model as a framework to communicate our thinking and progress.

Our customer journey map spanned 18 months from beginning to end

Evidenced decisions

For a project of this scale, an evidence-based approach was required to ensure we built the right thing and optimised development resources. We began by reframing long-established assumptions into a set of hypotheses before conducting extensive qualitative user research to validate them.

After 20 plus user interviews with exam boards from around the world, we identified 3 key personas and were able to comprehensively document the exam authoring process in a user journey map. We discovered an archaic process where workflows were messy, manual, and their software was letting them down.

We created 3 personas to represent the findings from our qualitative research

Pain points

We conducted several observational studies to map the practical authoring process in more detail, using it to identify opportunities that could be prioritised into a roadmap. Upon conducting a competitor analysis, we identified existing tools on the market were failing to cater to foundational workflow issues and remote working, instead favouring new kinds of question or response types.

The current process is insecure. Word docs were emailed and stored locally, with exam leaks likely to make the front-pages and ruin reputations.
Exam authoring is a collaborative process between authors and the exam board but exam progress is ambiguous with no shared view of the exam.
Multiple software packages don’t integrate with one another, making it
error prone and requiring multiple manual checks.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Many of the problems our users were struggling with in their enterprise context had already been solved by existing consumer products, like Google Slides or Medium. When trying to articulate the need for a familiar and intuitive iPad experience utilising these concepts to RM, we identified a breakdown in communication between product teams within the business. Teams were siloed, with limited visibility of each other, which made building consensus around a conceptual direction spanning the whole product difficult.

A video of a low-fidelity prototype is often easier to share than the prototype itself

To help build a shared vision, I planned and facilitated a series of workshops to align the product teams around user-needs and exploring solutions collaboratively, including tracking exam progress, sharing feedback, and seeing revisions. It was important this vision could be easily communicated and shared, so alongside rapidly wireframing and prototyping we produced several concept videos with voice over to establish a holistic product narrative up and down the organisation.

Workshops helped develop the core concepts explored in the low-fidelity prototype

The detail and insight gathered from these workshops informed our high-fidelity prototype. We created a bespoke iOS component design system that leveraged the new iPad models to create interactive flows for both the Authors and Assessment managers; allowing them to literally hold the experience in their hands. These prototypes were then used to help communicate key concepts and interactions with the 120 strong development team in India.

Component overview and UI details from high-fidelity prototype screens for iOS on iPad

Transformation from the inside out

Success isn’t accidental, it’s the product of researched planning and forward-thinking strategy. By gaining extensive insight into the lives of our users, we helped identify a market that was crying out for foundational workflow change, rather than yet more incremental question and response types.

We designed a solution that allows examiners and exam boards to seamlessly and securely collaborate together on the same exam. Because everyone sees the same thing, from the author to the candidate, exams are delivered as expected, hitting deadlines not front page news.

A solid foundation of research enabled us to quickly make decisions based on evidence, which built confidence, reduced risk, and created a holistic mindset across once disparate teams.

RM Authoring is currently in development and is due to be released in 2020.