Discovery Education: Espresso

Where it all

Espresso is an award-winning, curriculum-centred Ed-tech platform primarily used by teachers. The platform saves teachers time by providing them with teaching resources and high quality educational  interactive games and activities made for primary aged children. The service includes teacher support, videos, worksheets, games and quizzes all easily searchable by subject or objective.

A known fact within the education sector is that teachers are sparse for time; Espresso’s main goal is to provide teachers with resources to reduce lesson planning time, but also to provide children with a fun and engaging platform to enjoy learning.

Primary audience:  Primary teachers

Secondary audience: Students and Parents


The original designs can be seen below:

The problem

Espresso is over 15 years old, and as you can tell from above the platform has not been updated since it’s original design.

Therefore, I was employed by Discovery to re-design the platform based on the below issues. I worked alongside a product owner, product manager, 2 user researchers and around 4 developers to bring this project to life.

When my team and I started working on Espresso we visited several schools(Espresso users and non-Espresso users), we several weeks observing teachers/students using Espresso and interviewing teachers, 16 issues occurred, below you will find the 3 most common issues.

1. Problem: Young users had issues navigating around the platform, especially when left to do so independently. Nursery and Reception had the biggest issue as they are unable to read.

2. Problem: For teachers to set homework using Espresso, teachers were typing up long links (sometimes more than 100 characters long), and/or would provide parents with a step by step instructs,( e.g “Home > KS1 > Maths > Counting“) to get to a specific page.

3. Problem: Teachers want to plan their lesson’s based on specific curriculum objectives, which Espresso did not allow.

Most importantly, we learned one of the key pain points in teaching is the lack of time teachers have, Espresso at the time was causing more harm than good, resulting in teachers avoiding the platform, which solved the fall in subscriptions mystery the sales team were trying to get to the bottom off. Teachers simply wanted the flexibility to teach using Espresso but also the ability to tell their students to navigate to a specific page, teachers were too stretched to be able to set up 30+ laptops on the page they wanted their students to engage with and found Espresso was too hard to navigate around for the younger children, resulting in teachers and schools signing up to competitors platforms instead.

Espresso has a number of characters which are used within the platform, we found out that the EYES + KS1 loved the characters but KS2 students found the characters extremely childlike, meaning Y5 and Y6 teachers avoided Espresso as the children would “fuss about being treated like babies”.

As a team, we took over an area of the office and brainstormed the research finding and plan for the way forward.

The solution

As a team we brainstormed our findings and the user researchers presented even further findings to the team including the shareholders. These findings shaped the entire re-design of the platform.

I went pain by pain point and created concepts to solve each, as Espresso was now losing significant revenue and was no longer the number one platform being used by teachers, therefore it was imperative that these issues were resolved.

Problem: Teacher’s identified that one of the major issues they experienced with the existing Espresso platform, is the fact that young children find it hard to navigate and/or need too much assistance when doing so.

Solution 1: I re-designed the platform to use bigger buttons in EYFS and KS1, as research shows that children’s motor skills are not fulled formed until they are 8-9 years old. By using bigger buttons, different colours and illustration for each subject. I believed it would make it easier for teachers to instruct students to get from A to B.

Solution 2: I also created a “Get Page Pin“ button, that allows teachers to display a page pin made out of a unique string of emojis. When students input this string they will be directed to a specific page. This was specially created from Year 3 and under as they still were unable to read and many were learning their colours so the above solution would not help this set of users.

Problem: In the existing Espresso there is not a way to set homework or direct users to a specific asset. To set homework in Espresso, Teachers have resorted to typing up long URLs or paths which they expect parents to input or follow the step by step path. This is a bad user experience and one of the main reasons teachers were using competitor platforms which made this possible.

Solution: To solve this issue, I created a way to assign homework to students. This feature also allows teachers to become notified if and when homework was submitted and to mark the students work online, hopefully saving teachers time and resources.

Landing: Bigger buttons for accessibility + Key stages represented by shapes for easy navigation

KS1 Subject page: Bigger buttons for accessibility

Navigation pin

EYES Subject page: Colour CTA’S and illustration used to make for easy navigation and instruction

KS2 Subject page: Look and feel becomes more mature

KS2 Subject page: Look and feel becomes more mature


Once the concepts and prototypes were completed, the user researcher team carried out user testing on 15 participants (both students and teachers). As we wanted to ensure the concepts actually solved the problems we were trying to resolve.

We very quickly found out that users were extremely impressed by the new designs.

If THIS! Is the future of Espresso, I most definitely will be returning to it. Easy navigation check, Child-friendly check, appealing to my eyes check.

The only thing I would ask you to rethink is the emoji pin. The idea is good but I think there maybe too many emoji’s, consider changing it from I think it is 6 to 4 emoji’s children loose focus extremely fast.

This definitely looks modern, but very childlike. Could you make the KS2 design available to teachers so we have two different interfaces?

I like it, I found the games easily. I like the games they’re fun.

The high-level feedback can be seen below:

The newly designed platform was well received by both students and teachers, However, 60% of teachers wanted to use the KS2 version as a teacher’s versions as even though they thought the designs were age-appropriate for their students it was not right for them. The teachers thought the pin was a fantastic idea and said they would actually print out the pin, put it on their classroom wall so students could find activities to do in their free time in the classroom or during wet play.

Discovery education

Jerneva is a smart and creative designer who is a joy to work with. She puts users' needs first, always seeks data to inform her work and never loses sight of business goals.

Dessy Chongarova | Lead User Researcher

Discovery Education

I have had the privilege of hiring Jerneva to join the UX team at Discovery Education UK. She was tasked to work on one of DEUK’s most ambitious and complicated projects and she really excelled in it. Stakeholders and her peers raved about her amazing user-focused design solutions, work ethic and the speed and accuracy in which she produced deliverables such as wireframes, prototypes and polished UI designs. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Jerneva and know she will be an excellent asset and addition to any team.

Kam Maisuria | Head of UX/UI