Wondergrade is a family-friendly app for young children and their parents to learn emotional regulation skills (i.e. how to calm down when children have big emotions). My research work started out as a self-initiated project, and I was hired by the Wondergrade team after I presented my research insights and redesign proposal. After joining Wondergrade, I focused on redesigning the children's section through UX research, strategy planning, and UX design.


4 months (2023)


UX Research, UX Design, Content Creation, Playtesting


Wondergrade, LLC


1 UX researcher, 1 UX designer, 1 developer


· Launched on the App Store and reached a 4.6 stars rating
· Released the Family Newsletter and gained 200+ new subscribers

- Children struggled to use the app by themselves

Children were overwhelmed with 10 different activities on the same screen in the original design, and they lost engagement from the app easily. Based on findings from playtesting sessions, children relied heavily on parents’ help to complete the activities. While parents want to help their children learn emotional regulation skills, it is unrealistic for them to always accompany their children to use the app.

- What it means for business

Both children and parents are confused about the app, leading to low activation and retention rates. Hence,  designing solutions to clarify who the app is for and how it will help is crucial to the business of Wondergrade.

Two-part Solutions
- Simple and engaging app design for children
- Fun learning activities for families

I redesigned the layout of the app and initiated the design of printable learning activities for parents to go over what their children learned on the app.

- Playtesting sessions show children do not understand the app

I conducted playtesting sessions with 3 children. I noticed the target age range children (3-8 years old) didn't understand what complex terms such as "meditate" meant. Moreover, all child participants disengaged from Wondergrade's audios after around 2 minutes. Additionally, parental guidance was needed. I synthesized these findings and summarized 3 key design challenges:


Lack of explanation of complex terms


Limited engagement of audio guidance


Children didn't engage in the activities

- Survey results show parents do not understand the app either

Meanwhile, I also pushed for data collection from the parents side. After diving into 300+ parents' survey results, I realized a common confusion for parents:

Design Goals & Strategies

As an EdTech product, helping children learning is the ultimate goal. Yet, to achieve desired learning outcomes, children need to first understand and engage with the content. After discussions with Wondergrade's co-founders, we decided on the following strategies to reach Wondergrade's 3 main design goals:

Goal 1

Clear confusion

1. Distinguish Kid Center and Parent Center

Goal 2

Increase Engagement

1. Add more coloring activities
2. Create more games and a reward system

Goal 3

Highlight Learning

1. Create an outline of skills
2. Launch weekly newsletter with family learning activities

Goal 1: Clear confusion
-Content reorganization

To avoid children's confusion regarding why there were both "Kid Center" and "Parent Center" on the same navigation bar, Wondergrade's co-founders decided to create a separate app for children called "Oli's Toolbox". I took the lead for the design for the children's section. With constraints of limited budget, Wondergrade was not able to develop new content. Therefore, I decided to focus on content reorganization and came up with the following 5 solutions:

After discussing all the design options with co-founders, we decided to go with Design 2 to give children the agency and freedom of choices. I faced one design challenge: how to help children understand what each activity is about given that they do not read texts?

-Apply design principles under industry guidelines

I turned to my research insights and studied industry trends to help solve my design challenge. I synthesized 4 key design principles: 1. simple word choice, 2. moving elements, 3. large hot spots, 4. obvious interactive elements.

I applied the design principles and reduced the number of elements from 10 different buttons on the same screen to 3.  

-Strategic change due to engineering cost

But there was a cut on budget. To minimize engineering cost, I suggested another way to reduce confusion: a login redesign that marks the entrance for parents and children separately. I designed the layout of a child and a parent and had the button colors match the two.

-Quick MVP buildout for rapid testing

After another round of design review, I reached the following design and used it for user testing.

-Playtesting with 3 new families

I discussed research questions and created playtesting guides with a researcher.

Some key insights I found during my playtesting sessions were:

1. Children loved coloring pages and video practices and were able to follow along

2. Younger children had a learning curve for the swipe interaction

3. Children tended to exit a page when they saw still images or audio instead of a video guide

Based on playtesting insights, a major design implication is to add a tutorial for the swiping interaction.

Goal 2: Increase Engagement
-More coloring activities

During both playtesting sessions, I noticed children enjoyed doing the coloring game. In fact, 2 children played it 8 times. To engage children more, co-founders and I decided to add more coloring activities and coloring templates.  

-Mini games and reward system

* I'm not able to share the full design details for the mini games due to NDA.
I ideated more mini game ideas and collaborated with the developing team to pick out Unity frameworks for implementation. To incentivize children to explore different tools, I also designed a reward system for them to unlock new coloring pages after they practice 5 tools.

Goal 3: Highlight Learning
-Outline essential skills

I worked within the research team to review literature on children’s emotional regulation skills and summarized findings into 7 different categories: 1. awareness of emotions, 2. reflection on emotions, 3. emotional vocabulary, 4. understanding of the brain, 5. building cognitive skills, 6. learning emotional regulation tools, 7. social-emotional skills

-Weekly newsletter: family learning activities

To address any confusion about using Wondergrade tools, I initiated a weekly newsletter that includes a family learning activities package for parents to introduce the different tools in context. I came up with the following 2 designs:

The co-founders and I decided to go with the scenario-based design because it gives room for more creative activities for content creation and children learn better when they learn things situated in contexts.

We also tested with children and explored other printable packages on the market. We found out that children enjoyed coloring a lot, so I added more graphic elements for that allow children to color. This is the final design after 2 rounds of design review:

-Designing for children with children

I really enjoyed playtesting with children and observing how they interacted with Wondergrade. Since many of the young children are not used to digital apps, it was surprising for me to see their initial struggles with swiping interactions and how they were able to master them with practice. I also had a chance to test with children in a wide age range, and I was amazed by how both 3-year-olds and 8-year-olds were able to gain from the app.

Above all, I learned how to advocate for a child-centered design and utilize essential design principles to craft interfaces and learning experiences that are engaging and meaningful for them.