Designing an Ed-tech App to Improve College Exploration for Prospective Students
Nxstep is a startup founded by former engineers from Google and Twitter. As they embarked on their academic and career journeys, they noticed that the path to success wasn’t always clear. The landscape has changed and unfortunately not all schools and guidance counselors have the resources and information they need to support their students.
This knowledge gap is most critical during the high school to college transition. If you think back, how did you decide which university to attend? It was likely due to general prestige, family legacy, referrals, or your social environment growing up. But unless you know students who walked that path, it’s hard to know exactly what would be the best fit for you.
So the founders of NXSTEP created a new app to address these challenges in the education space. They are redefining college exploration and job search through crowdsourced content, social groups, and 1:1 mentorship.Since launch they’ve signed up 500+ students and mentors and partnered with 200+ colleges across the country.
Given the success of their MVP, they reached out to us to help rebrand and redesign their app in order to drive awareness, credibility, and engagement.
We designed the NXSTEP mobile and desktop app. We also redesigned their marketing website and created sales enablement assets for them.
The NXSTEP app had 3 primary user groups: students, mentors, and admins. Students were the primary users who engaged with content and peers. Mentors provided content, peer support, and academic/professional advisory. Admins oversaw student activity and engagement to stay informed of progress. So we designed the app around each user’s core needs.
Students have a few different ways to engage with the NXSTEP app, including:
- Learning about different colleges
- Connecting with peers and mentors
- Engaging with crowdsourced NXSTEP content
So we created the dashboard to have one central point of reference that allows them to access key touchpoints and see latest activity. We took a modular approach and created modules for all of the most important updates: their scheduled meetings, their groups, their mentors, and recent posts. This was important for creating organization and access.
Colleges and Groups
Colleges and groups are the foundational pieces of the app. The directory of colleges allows students to get all the info they need on any school they’re interested in. This includes:
- Overview statistics on chances of getting in, acceptance rate, class size, student body, financial aid info. This allowed them to acquaint themselves with all the core decision making information.
- Registered mentors and school-specific discussion groups. This gave students a personal connection to the school and allowed them to get an inside scoop on what the experience is like.
- Crowdsourced photos and videos. This allowed students to get an over-the-shoulder look at what the school looks like. The dorms, the social areas, the classrooms and everything you may have missed on a brochure.
- Reviews on the school and the experience. This allowed students to hear firsthand what current attendees are sharing about their experiences.
Once we finished designing the mobile and desktop apps, we moved onto the website. The primary goal of the website was to serve as an awareness and user engagement surface. So we built the site around a couple key pillars:
One of the primary goals of the website was to create awareness of the brand the product as a whole. So we created a landing page as a primary marketing surface. We also created a “How it Works” page that breaks down everything about Nxstep, the app, the process, the mentor network and more. This helps educate users who need more information before making a decision.
Content was an important pillar because it allowed them to engage with their audience. We helped them create an on-site blog for articles written by the editorial team, mentors, or guest writers. We also allowed website visitors to access Nxstep’s directory of colleges. This serves as a lead magnet for the brand and helps SEO.
The final step of the process was to create a set of sales templates that the team could use for product promotion. We leveraged the brand guidelines we created to design 3 templates with 2 different color variants. These templates were built around 3 sales pillars:
- Highlighting the product with UI and key benefits
- Leveraging data and insights to sell
- Leaning into testimonials for credibility
This project was a great challenge. We’ve done a lot of work in the ed-tech space, but their approach to mentorship and content was unique and it was rewarding to work with them on how to design the most engaging brand and app possible. We love designing for education. Because education is everything.
It’s what creates opportunity and social mobility. But far too many are underserved. Too many are taught to neglect their academics because the material and delivery isn’t engaging, or because they don’t have the support they need. But now with Nxstep, that’s changing. Everybody everywhere will have access to world class student mentors who can give them actionable support to achieve their goals.
- That’s powerful.
- That’s a mission worth rallying for.
- That’s Black Lotus.