BloomTech Portal

a one-stop shop for all things related to a student's learning at BloomTech
BloomTech Portal
BloomTech, previously known as Lambda School, is an education tech company working on making Software Engineering a more accessible career option. With or without a college degree, our goal is to give more people the foundational skills needed to get a job in the Software Engineering industry through one of our courses.

Once a Learner is enrolled in their desired course, they are given access to The Portal, a place where they can access all things related to their program, get support when stuck, and see their progress within their course.
Lead Product Designer:
UX Strategy, User Research, Wireframing, Visual Design, Interaction Design, Prototyping, Graphic Design
Head of Product
4+ Product Managers
10+ Engineers
4+ Salesforce and Data Experts
Fig 1. Current BloomTech Portal for Enrolled Learners
Fig2. Current BloomTech Portal for Free Trial Learners
Before I came to what was known as Lambda School then, the experience for a Learner was extremely fragmented.

A Learner was given many links to access everything they needed for their course - a link to Canvas, a third party tool used for course content, a link for support tickets through Salesforce, and resources to supplement their learning were given by instructors in classes that Learners ended up bookmarking for later use. Not having a unified place to view all information needed to succeed in the program takes valuable time away from learning the core content and instead wastes time trying to find this information. This in turn leads to Learner fatigue and frustration, and eventually leads to some Learners withdrawing from the program.

If we made the Learner experience more cohesive, we would be able to take away some of the frustration that comes from not finding relevant information when needed, and instead, redirect our support to more important things - teaching the Learner the Software Engineering skills they came here to learn.
support hub
Fig3. View of Canvas - Third Party Tool for Course Content
Fig4. Help Hub - Third Party Tool Used for Support Articles
Success can be tracked with 3 things here- a decrease in the number of support tickets, a decrease in number of withdraw rates, and an increase in graduation pace.

A lot of the support tickets that come through are related to not being able to find the right resources. When a Learner has to take time away from learning to write a support ticket about this, and then have to wait for someone to respond to their question, they tend to lose focus and patience which breaks their productivity levels, leading to taking more time to complete the task at hand.

With a more unified platform, Learners have the ability to focus on the right things. By taking away some of the cognitive load that comes from the inability of finding resources or knowing where everything exists, we can help Learners focus on learning core engineering principles, which will take away some of the more minor frustrations.

As Learners have the ability to focus more on the course content, they can learn at a faster pace, which leads to completing the course on time and a higher likelihood of getting a job faster.
Why We Need This
Persona Research is extremely important at BloomTech, and it is why we conduct it on a quarterly basis. Teams across the company benefit from understanding our users - from the Enrollment Coaching team to the Instructional Design team to Product and Engineering team to the Career Coaching Team. At every step of the BloomTech journey, understanding our users and their needs helps us to tailor the experience to be the most effective.
How We Conducted This
Taking the lead on this every quarter, I conduct Persona Research studies in a 3 step process: 1) short surveys to get multiple results, but deep enough to gather useful information 2) 1:1 interviews with Learners who went above and beyond in giving feedback in the surveys and 3) using the data collected to analyze our Learners, group them into buckets, find common trends and themes, and present this to the company so each team can utilize the data in whichever way is best suited for them.
Fig5. The Techie Persona
Fig6. The Uninhibited Persona
Persona Findings
Each time I conduct these studies, I deliver with 3-4 personas that represent our Learners and customer journey maps for each persona that lays out their end to end experience with BloomTech.

In the most recent Persona Research studies, there were 3 personas created: 1) The Techie (has some tech or college experience, thrive in this type of learning setting, and have a strong desire to gain knowledge and get a job with said knowledge), The Uninhibited (desire comes from the idea of making a six-figure salary, but typically doesn't have  strong enough will to do what it takes to be successful in the program), and The Seeker (someone who doesn't have a traditional prior schooling experience, but is driven to do what it takes to be succesful as they have family and other responsibilities to think about).
Fig7. First version of the BloomTech Portal - simple and laying the groundwork to build upon
Fig8. Second version of the BloomTech Portal - with a slightly different color variation and added functionality
Given how fast we were moving, this version had to be extremely simple to get it through the door. We focused on showing their progress in the course, a link to take them to their course, and showing course requirements for each of their sprints.
Major feedback was that it was too simple, and the color scheme was not very appealing. It needed more content and more livelihood.
This version resonated with more of our Learners. The colors brought out certain features of the Portal more, and made it easier to know what to focus on. Learners loved the gradients, and they mentioned that it brought more energy to the platform. It still seemed a bit bare, and Learners wanted more functionality within the Portal, to help guide them through their journey here.
Fig9. Third version of the BloomTech Portal - focusing on increasing enrollment numbers from Free-Trial Learners.
Fig10. BloomTech Portal Home Page - focusing on rebranding and doing a complete revamp of the current experience.
With the need to increase our enrollment numbers, we thought of ways to help Learners progress. One issue Learners had was not knowing what all they could do and how everything helped them get to their final goal. With the 'Getting Started' guide, Learners were given a checklist of items that would help them progress and give them an idea of what to expect in the course.Learners still wanted more information that was tied to their specific journey though.
With a need to rethink the entire experience, we were able to put more time into rebranding the current layout. We put a higher focus on personalizing the experience for Learners so they can see information that relates to their learning journey.This is a huge change from the current experience though, and implementing this would take more time and resources.
After every version that we launched, we would speak with Learners to get their perspectives on how the Portal was working for them and what changes they'd like to see. Using this information, we were able to map this out with business goals and see what we could add to enhance the experience.
Fig11. BloomTech Portal Home Page
Fig12. Program Curriculum Shown to Free Trial Learners
Fig13. Free Lessons Learners in the Trial Can Watch or Attend
A Clear, Concise, Personalized Experience
With the updated visual styling and layout, Learners are now able to understand what's available to them and get information that is specifically tied to their progress.

Learners are also able to better gauge if they are on path to graduate at the pace they pre-determined. By showing the recommended number of items to complete to stay on pace, Learners understand what is expected of them, and they are able to better manage their schedules. With this added feature, we have seen more Learners stay on their set schedule.
More Insights Into Individual Progress
With the new Performance page, Learners can get a deep dive into the data related to their journey. By looking at the information that outlines their trends and activity within BloomTech content, they can analyze their learning journeys and see how they can continue improving to reach their final goal.

The GCA scores are extremely important for Learners to understand their level of understanding and to be able to get a job afterwards. With this added section, Learners can keep track of their practice scores and get an idea of how much more practice is needed to understand the content enough to get a passing GCA score.
Small Wins in the Bigger Picture
Imposter syndrome is huge for Learners who are coming into their program without any prior knowledge and/or the skills to learn effectively. Many Learners get frustrated as they get deeper into the program, as learning so much new information can be extremely taxing, especially if you are putting everything into this career shift.

With the added Feats page, Learners are able to collect badges for completing different tasks, and then Learners are also able to share their achievements on social media. These may just be small wins, but they are driving Learners to keep pushing forward and giving them the confidence needed to believe in themselves and their journeys.
Unified Experience for Free Trial Learners
Once a person signed up for the Free Trial through our website, they were previously given a separate link to access an enrollment checklist. This checklist included questions to verify tuition options and verify education history and included agreements and forms to be filled out prior to committing to the requirements of the program.

As part of the business goal of increasing enrollment numbers, we moved the enrollment checklist into the portal, along with free lessons and live events that the Learner could watch and attend to get an idea of if the program was right for them. With everything a Learner can access in one place, it made it much easier to identify what steps were still necessary from a Learner's perspective, and increased the rate of completion which helped increase enrollment numbers.
The BloomTech Portal is a constant work in progress. With a very agile team, it is not possible to release multiple new features in a quick fashion. With quarterly Persona Research being conducted, we are able to gather what our Learners value the most and what changes or what new features would be most beneficial to them. Using the data from the Persona Research studies, we are able to go back and prioritze items that would be the most impactful. Using this data, we will tie in the priorities to the business goals (increasing enrollment numbers and vesting numbers), and then launch these new changes.


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