JOANNA ENGELKING – English school website

Helping struggling students to learn English more efficiently by enabling them to learn in every available moment
UX strategy for English school + UX/UI design for a business website


The project was created during a 4-month mentoring programme organised by Women in Technology. As a mentee, I had the opportunity to work on a real project and with a real business. The outcome of the project is a business website with an integrated platform for exchanging documents, links, and homework between the teacher and students.

laptop and mobile with webpage displayed


My role was to develop a strategy by running a workshops with the client, conducting research and in-depth interviews, analysing the data, then ideating and prototyping a comprehensive digital solution. I also collaborated with a front-end developer to implement the website.


  • UX Strategy

    1. Desktop research + UX Strategy Toolkit
    2. Workshops with the client + Product vision board + Personas
    3. In-depth interviews
  • Design

    1. Information architecture + Customer Journey
    2. Sketches + Style guides
    3. Mock-ups + Testing
  • Implementation

    I cooperated with a developer during the whole implementation process


The business initially was a small language school based in Poznan, Poland. It offered English, German and Spanish classes for kids, teenagers and adults. Classes were conducted on-site both in a one-to-one format and in groups. The brand was separated from the founder, and there were 5 teachers there.


Losing potential clients due to poor layout, content, and design of the website.


Company website did not provide basic information about the current offering, prices and the target audience. This was the reason why my client – the founder of the school, had to guide her potential customers through basic information during long phone calls. She was wasting time, credibility and clients.

Interview with stakeholders

I had one-to-one conversations with the stakeholder to establish the working basis for the project. Insight from customer interviews revealed that remodelling of the whole business was needed in addition to the new website. My client wanted to:

  • change the school profile from a language school to an English school
  • narrow down her target market to adults
  • ncorporate more language coaching: help and motivate learners to make their own decisions about their language learning journey rather than using traditional teaching methods
  • my client – the founder of the school, wanted to be the face of the brand. She wanted to build a personal relationship with students at the earliest possible stage by being personally associated with the company.

We started with the UX strategy being the meeting point of user experience design and business strategy.


UX strategy

To have a good understanding of the market and our target audience, we began by asking questions:

Who are our competitors?

Desktop research + UX Strategy Toolkit

I used UX Strategy Toolkit to collect data with competitive analysis and review direct and indirect competitors. I wanted to know:

  • how the service and brand fit the market
  • the respond to the market
  • how the competition achieve stated business goals
  • what is the experience offered on their website, social media
  • how we may meet our customers’ needs
Short characteristics of the main competitors:
  • Big language schools

    they have branches network in major cities in Poland. The franchise helps with creating a recognizable brand, but prevents a consistently high level of teaching at every business location. They are recommended for families who want to enrol children for basic level classes. A plus is additional holiday activities, better price for the next child, discounts in language bookstores and stores.

  • Native English speaker

    the school’s biggest assets are the teachers - native speakers and interaction with them. The possibility to learn linguistic nuances and English culture is a big plus. Recommended to young, open people who value social integration, meeting new people.

  • Language coaching

    the school is always strongly linked to its founder. The brand is built on personal achievements, certificates. The teaching is usually supported by new technologies, and it follows the latest global trends in coaching. Recommended for institutions, senior corporate officers, and white-collar staff from companies working in an international environment.

What are our goals?

Product vision board + Workshops with the client + Personas

During the workshops with the stakeholder I used the Product Vision Board by Roman Pichler to capture:

  • business vision
  • target groups
  • users’ needs and obstacles
  • key product features/solutions
  • business goals and risks

The outcome of the workshops is:


My lessons help students gain professional promotion, thanks to which their quality of life improves


We have identified four groups of clients and created for them personas to empathise with and analyse our users. On the one hand, each persona represented a significant segment of people in the real world and on the other it enabled us to focus on a manageable cast of characters. This helped us to design for a specific recipient rather than a generic everybody.

Personas helped us also to target each of the customer segments for the interviews.

  1. Senior management
    persona details
  2. Junior corporate employees
    persona details
  3. Small business owners
    persona details
  4. People who need an English-language certificate
    persona details

In these four groups of customers, we identified recurring patterns of NEED – OBSTACLE – SOLUTION – BUSINESS RISK

  1. NEED: To use as effectively as possible every available moment for learning instead of wasting time on looking for learning resources

    OBSTACLE: Time constraints (they have a lot of responsibilities at work and outside work), lack of comprehensive, integrated learning solutions.

    SOLUTION: Learning materials available at any time (not only during classes) to enable learning during commuting, waiting for an appointment with a doctor, etc.

    BUSINESS RISK: Lack of financial liquidity - clients with tight deadlines and busy schedule are more likely to skip and cancel classes

  2. NEED: Visible results and outcomes of learning

    OBSTACLE: They quickly lose motivation and willingness to learn, so it is difficult for them to achieve their goals.

    SOLUTION: Chunking information to increase learning retention, frequent repetitions and mock-up tests.

    BUSINESS RISK: too much flexibility in conducting classes leading to insufficient quality of lessons preparation

  3. NEED: To be immersed in the English language. They need the English language not only for business but also because it became the global lingua franca which may help to get the latest information about events, trends, opportunities.

    OBSTACLE: They do not know how to immerse themselves in a language as they are used to the old methods of learning.

    SOLUTION: The possibility to report your changing needs to the teacher (e.g. changing the topic of future classes in order to consult a presentation prepared for work), being in touch with the teacher via the Internet

    BUSINESS RISK: Business will be unprofitable due to the time-consuming contact with students outside class hours

Who are our users?

In-depth interviews

I conducted 10 in-depth interviews for the qualitative analysis that will inform the further design process.

I tried to explore general attitudes to learning languages by asking primarily open-ended questions about mental models, processes, attitudes and motivations. However, I also asked for specific stories from the past or projections into the future. My goal was to enrich a contextual inquiry study by supplementing insights or quoting users’ descriptions of real stories.

I identified the following patterns of themes in the interview data:

  • NEED to use as effectively as possible every available moment for learning

    Sometimes on the tram, on my way to work I had some time to learn the language but I had neither copies, nor the notebook. At home, I don't really have time to study apart from watching a movie or TV series in English – Wiktor, 34, business analyst

    I liked it best when we went on a business trip, we opened Quizlet app, and we were all learning - Wiktor, 34, business analyst

    I have bought a swimming pool pass for eight entries a month, which I use whenever I want to. It is a nice solution because it motivates me and I don’t feel like I’m wasting money - Wojtek, 40, owner of an architectural firm

  • NEED visible results and outcomes of learning

    I often practice future business talks with my teacher. She helps me with more advanced structures and terminology - Hubert, 36, head of IT consulting

    I learned it the hard way as a learning group at a language school didn’t work for me, I could hardly keep up, didn’t understand anything so I lost my enthusiasm and resigned - Wojtek, 40, owner of an architectural firm

  • NEED to be immersed in the English language

    I remember the classes with a native speaker well because he thought in English and not in Polish. I had to communicate somehow because he didn't understand Polish - Natalia, 32, graphic designer


What have I learned from the research phase:


The essential users' problem which stood out from the interviews was the lack of time for both regular classes and self-study. They are hard-working people who need English to improve their position on the labour market. Therefore, on the one hand, they are motivated, but on the other, they tend to get discouraged by the lack of visible language progress.


To enable them to learn at any time via the file-sharing platform on the language school website. The option of 'extending' the classes with dedicated flashcards, films, articles, exercises related to the topics discussed during the classes.

Other ideas for the business and website:
  • Class pass - in addition to individual lessons, 10/20 class passes will be available. It will motivate the student, and at the same time, it will help the business to estimate revenue
  • Online classes – one-to-one classes with the possibility of switching to online classes
  • The casual character of the site - the initial assumptions about the appearance of the site were that very professional, business site was needed. However, during interviews, I found out that users prefer a more casual feeling.
  1. Information architecture + Customer Journey

    With our research findings, personas in mind and business goals, we arrived at the following core structure:


      providing chunckable information with titled sections and a contact form. We wanted the content to be useful and presented in an easily digestible format so that the users can make informed decisions


      for files sharing. Student gets an account and password for signing up to the platform. Materials for/after the lessons can be found there. They can be reviewed at any time.


      to increase the desirability of content on the page, for SEO

    We checked the information architecture and customer journey for a user who wants to find a suitable language school and start learning English.

    customer journey board
    • A clear and complete description of the offer and pricing - people who first visit the site look mainly for information that will allow them to compare the offer and choose the school: about the school, teaching methods, teacher, pricing
    • The opportunity to get to know the teacher better - links to social media, various ways to contact the teacher should be included
    • Include testimonials to help establish credibility for the moments of hesitation

    • web page design sketch
    • web page design sketch
    Visual Factors:
    • important element: dedicated photo session
    • colour guidelines: navy as the dominant colour, consistent with the photo session
    • characteristics: elegant, pleasant, business, neat and clean

    • laptop with webpage displayed
    • laptop with webpage displayed
    • One font type - I chose one type from several fonts to make the page more readable and easy to implement.
    • Accessibility - I chose a font which is easy to read. I also increased the size of the font and the contrast on the site in general.
    • Call-to-action button added
    • Blog details removed – I removed blog post's dates in case the blog is not updated frequently
    • User Platform – instead of a link to take the user to another page, we decided to change it to hiding sidebar
    mobile phones with webpage displayed