Discovery Education Activities

In 2012 Discovery Education decided to convert all of its old Flash games on its primary school Espresso service to HTML and JavaScript versions. We used this as an opportunity to create a coherent and fun user experience across some 3000 games.


Agile, paper prototyping, sketching, user journeys, wireframes, user testing, Balsamiq Mockups, One-on-one and group interviews.


We redesigned the UX of some 3,300 games, giving them the UX attention they deserved, but never had. All the games had to be tablet friendly, but without radically upping the browser requirements for desktop users, most of whom were on IE8.
Intuitive and tablet-friendly games
Though the content of games varied according to the audience, the global design patterns needed to work for children as young as four, and as old as eleven. Having the whole experience driven through a single button ensured the younger kids could play.
Initial sketch
An exploration of the potential user journeys through an activity, centred on whether or not a model answer is provided, and considering the implications of each option from the perspectives of educational value and user experience.
User journeys
We took time to create a few conventions that would apply to all our games. We used several paper prototypes to explore the various game states the user could experience, and the journeys between them.
Paper prototyping
Espresso has a rich set of cartoon characters that our young users are familiar with from across other parts of the service. One of the key components of our new games was using the characters to contextualise the games with a story, and to provide feedback. The little puppy, Scrap, is definitely the kids’ favourite!
Introductory screen for Snap game
The user taps or clicks the screen when they see a match. We wanted to mimic the way a child might slap their palm down on a deck of cards when playing the real life version of the game. As the user has answered the question correctly, Scrap leaps for joy!
Touch to snap!
On other games we used a leaderboard to encourage children to get top marks. We didn't have the technology to let kids compete against each other, so again we drew on the Espresso characters. As the user moves up the leaderboard, characters they pass look disappointed (like Eddie), whilst those above look concerned (like Polly).
A new e-learning game
We conducted an enormous amount of user testing, both in house and out in the field at schools. Throughout the process we consulted with teachers (both internal and external) to ensure the pedagogy was sound.
Usability testing