user experience design

Koru | Choosing grit over grades

Choosing grit over grades

Koru offers a new way for tech companies to hire and develop the right early career talent

CHALLENGE

Koru began as an immersive, in-person business-training program for recent college grads, guided by a new paradigm for what it takes to succeed in today's job market. When Koru first approached Blue Marble in late 2014, the company was preparing to build an online component to reach a greater number of job-seekers and provide additional value to employers. Blue Marble participated in design of this new, tech-based offering at various points from early concept through development.

INSIGHT

As experts in job success for some of the world's top companies, Koru's leadership team holds themselves and others to a high standard. This team really understands the design process and is constantly looking to innovate, so no idea is too precious to be challenged and the customer's need is held in the highest regard. Every aspect of every project was a collaboration with many other bright and talented people. During our first engagement, Koru's leadership described their vision and we worked together to assemble their ideas into early prototypes and mockups which were used for fundraising and customer research. When a team was assembled to develop this new element of the business into a full-scale online application, Blue Marble worked with Koru's core team to support design for the consumer-facing application and to develop companion offerings to employers and colleges. We also helped to design an administrative interface for Koru staff to manage the day-to-day operation of the system.

RESULTS

Koru is transforming the way companies screen, hire, and develop early-career millennial talent through their data-driven talent analytics solution. They work with Fortune 500 brands and high-growth companies across dozens of industries to find and develop the right fit talent to meet their needs.

While much of Blue Marble's work with Koru was proprietary and confidential, you can see below a few examples of the types of projects we were engaged with.


In early stages, Blue Marble met with Koru to gather notes and sketches, then developed mockups to represent Koru's vision for the product for both employers and job-seekers. These were sufficiently detailed to facilitate conversation with prospective funders and to raise questions for customer research, allowing the product idea to develop and evolve to meet market needs.

In early stages, Blue Marble met with Koru to gather notes and sketches, then developed mockups to represent Koru's vision for the product for both employers and job-seekers. These were sufficiently detailed to facilitate conversation with prospective funders and to raise questions for customer research, allowing the product idea to develop and evolve to meet market needs.


Customer journey maps for both job-seekers and employers: internal documents like these are helpful to encourage focus and clear understanding of customer needs. Koru provided customer research, BMC handled visual design/layout.

Customer journey maps for both job-seekers and employers: internal documents like these are helpful to encourage focus and clear understanding of customer needs. Koru provided customer research, BMC handled visual design/layout.

 


Administrative portal screen: how an employee of Koru would evaluate and give feedback on a video submitted by an applicant. We designed dozens of screens to be used as part of the day-to-day operations of Koru.

Administrative portal screen: how an employee of Koru would evaluate and give feedback on a video submitted by an applicant. We designed dozens of screens to be used as part of the day-to-day operations of Koru.


CLIENT

Koru Careers, Inc.

SERVICES

(UX/UI) User experience and user interface design

Print and digital publication

FOCUS

Economic Impact


EdReady | Math assessment and intervention

EdReady | Math assessment and intervention

From middle school to college, students across the U.S. are using EdReady to fill their knowledge gaps and surpass their own expectations.

CHALLENGE

When NROC's founder, Gary Lopez, first told us about his vision for EdReady in 2012, NROC had recently secured funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build EdReady. The big goal for EdReady was to help vastly more Americans complete college. EdReady would be a free online tool with a more advanced and customized version used in educational institutions nationwide. The app would allow students to self-assess for math and English readiness and then follow a personalized study path to fill in their knowledge gaps.

EdReady needed to appeal to a broad spectrum of people. Imagine a student headed to a rigorous college STEM program, or an adult with math anxiety striving to earn a G.E.D. A project like this requires the involvement of many stakeholders. Blue Marble was engaged to handle design for EdReady, both UX design and the brand identity and marketing materials.

INSIGHT

Christine Fisher and John Watson of Evergreen Education Group discuss EdReady with high school students during a day of user testing.

Christine Fisher and John Watson of Evergreen Education Group discuss EdReady with high school students during a day of user testing.

NROC is unique in that their work is guided by a national network of educational institutions. Therefore, the need to get buy-in from students, schools, and other education leaders is embedded into its business model. 

Blue Marble helped with focus groups to test our assumptions and gain valuable insight into the user’s experience with early prototypes. Within the first three months, the interface underwent three major revisions based on feedback from students and teachers. We observed a wide spectrum of attitudes about math and college, learning our target audience's own language so we could gain their trust and engagement.  

RESULTS

  • EdReady is currently being used by institutions across the U.S. including some entire state systems such as Montana, Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, Tennessee, North Carolina, and others.

  • A short documentary (about Montana) is available to show what a statewide implementation of EdReady looked like in 2015. Blue Marble was involved in the production of this film, conducting the interviews and providing feedback during the editing process.

  • EdReady has matured from the concept stage to become a fully functional product with a coherent brand and story that continues to unfold.

  • Based, in part, on the value EdReady brings to educational institutions, NROC has been able to increase membership and is working toward becoming a self-sustaining project.

Work Examples

Explainer Video

Blue Marble produced this first explainer video in 2014, including script, storyboards, illustration, voiceover, motion and sound design. Due to our careful planning the video serves a variety of needs and has been customized for multiple states and school systems.

Promotion

In 2015 we produced a six-part  online toolkit  for education leaders to promote EdReady within their own institutions. A variety of customizable materials and a complete style guide were included.

In 2015 we produced a six-part online toolkit for education leaders to promote EdReady within their own institutions. A variety of customizable materials and a complete style guide were included.

The toolkit was also shared as a credit-card-sized flash drive in conference bags. Our work has included designs for conference signage, name tags, and collateral.

The toolkit was also shared as a credit-card-sized flash drive in conference bags. Our work has included designs for conference signage, name tags, and collateral.

User Interface Design

A suite of reports allows administrators and teachers to support students using EdReady. How is Ms. Sandoval's Algebra 1 class performing? How has Elizabeth been spending her time inside EdReady? How did Jonathan reach his target score so quickly? Blue Marble helped NROC to create a system that answers questions like these based on research into the needs of EdReady's administrative users.

A suite of reports allows administrators and teachers to support students using EdReady. How is Ms. Sandoval's Algebra 1 class performing? How has Elizabeth been spending her time inside EdReady? How did Jonathan reach his target score so quickly? Blue Marble helped NROC to create a system that answers questions like these based on research into the needs of EdReady's administrative users.

The "study path" where a student can learn about topics they need to study, then check their knowledge to improve their scores. Students can learn and assess themselves at their own pace in a low-stakes environment with constant feedback.

The "study path" where a student can learn about topics they need to study, then check their knowledge to improve their scores. Students can learn and assess themselves at their own pace in a low-stakes environment with constant feedback.

 

CLIENT

The NROC Project

SERVICES

Interaction/interface design

Customer/user experience

Brand and message development

Multimedia campaigns

Print and digital publication

Illustration, photography, video production, motion graphics

FOCUS

Education


“I think of Blue Marble as part of our team. Without their vision and creativity we would not have a fraction of the success we have enjoyed. Blue Marble took the time to understand the students and instructors that we serve, as well as the challenges we face. They committed creatively and emotionally to both our business success and our mission success.”

– Gary Lopez, Ph.D, Founder and CEO, The NROC Project


 
 

“We’ve got many students falling out of higher education. The work NROC is doing in technology and education could not be more important.”

– Martha Kanter, Former U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hundreds of education leaders have contributed time and expertise to this project and the underlying learning resources. It is truly a labor of love for many.

Hundreds of education leaders have contributed time and expertise to this project and the underlying learning resources. It is truly a labor of love for many.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

To learn more about the organization behind EdReady, and to hear what education leaders are saying about EdReady, see the above video. You can also learn more about our work on The NROC Project.

NROC | From product to purpose

From product to purpose

Highlighting mission to build a better brand

CHALLENGE

The NROC Project (NROC) is a national nonprofit that gives education leaders, teachers, and learners a voice in the production of digital content and software. Originally known as a “national repository of online courses,” the organization has received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and others to build award-winning online learning tools. NROC is especially unique because they receive membership fees from educational institutions. Membership institutions share in both the work and the rewards of these development efforts. In this way, institutions are able to guide the development of learning materials to their own high quality standards while gaining access to excellent resources at a fraction of the typical cost. 

When Blue Marble first started working with NROC in 2008, the organization was comprised of several passionate staff with deep roots in education and technology. They had created various projects and initiatives lacking one recognizable name. The group was successful at securing grant funding and delivering quality work, yet it was difficult to gain recognition in a crowded and competitive marketplace. We were tasked with helping to narrow their approach and to define a brand architecture that could be used consistently long-term. 

INSIGHT

Over its 10-year history, NROC had proven to be much more than a static, “online repository.” Its unique attribute was its truly active community of education leaders. We began our work with a research and discovery phase, where we gained an understanding of the founder's longer-term vision. With that perspective, we suggested modifications to streamline the language for the organization’s projects. While many of these projects were complex, we realized the need for clear, concise names and consistent themes to address a diverse, national audience. This has been a multi-year process, and we are proud to say that due to the persistence and determination of everyone involved, NROC is increasingly gaining recognition for their valuable and innovative work.

 

RESULTS

Taking marketing to the next level

  • NROC began referring to itself as "The NROC Project" to change the focus to the active and participatory nature of the work while retaining their history. 

  • The visual identity has become more modern and professional, with an evolving suite of print and digital collateral to clearly articulate the mission, values, and offering.

  • Various elements of NROC's customer/member experience are now better aligned with the overall organization's identity.

  • NROC has a style guide and templates that staff can use to unify ongoing communications.

  • NROC hired a dedicated marketing director, who brought decades of experience in corporate marketing and collaborated closely with Blue Marble to grow an integrated in-house marketing department.

 

NROC-website1.jpg

CLIENT

The NROC Project

SERVICES

Communication strategy

User experience design

Brand and message development

Multimedia campaigns

Website design and development

Print and digital publication

Training and ongoing support

FOCUS

Education


“I think of Blue Marble as part of our team. Without their vision and creativity we would not have a fraction of the success we have enjoyed. Blue Marble took the time to understand the students and instructors that we serve, as well as the challenges we face. They committed creatively and emotionally to both our business success and our mission success.”

– Gary Lopez, Ph.D, Founder and CEO, The NROC Project

Energia Eficiente | Building a case for energy efficiency in Brazil

Building a case

Convincing Brazilian hoteliers to invest in energy efficiency

CHALLENGE

Energia Eficiente (EE) is a consulting firm focused on helping entrepreneurs invest in energy efficiency through a unique combination of technical and financial assistance. The company runs Programa Pro Hoteis (PPH), an initiative aimed at helping the Brazil hotel industry implement energy efficiency measures. When Energia Eficiente took over PPH — which had received start-up funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) — the program was successful at completing energy-efficiency audits, but struggled to convince hotels to implement the recommendations outlined in the audits. Energia Eficiente had the technical and business skills to take the program to the next level, but it lacked marketing expertise. That’s when a member of the leadership team reached out to Blue Marble for assistance with developing the marketing strategy.

INSIGHT

Blue Marble conducted an in-person BluePrinting workshop at our White Salmon, Washington office with one of the EE leaders. We spent nearly three days combing through presentation materials, visualizing the future, and discussing audience objections. We brought clarity to Energia Eficiente’s sales and consultation process. We helped EE’s leadership team get clear on the perspective of their ideal hotel customer through each stage of the process, and documented our conclusions with a customer journey map. We also created audience profiles, and a mood board which provided direction for a new brand and aesthetic, and we outlined the messages for a new sales presentation. As a last step in this process, we executed a redesign of both Energia Eficiente's visual identity as well as that of Programa Pro Hoteis.

RESULTS

Clearly communicating the value of energy efficiency

  • Energia Eficiente’s new materials contain icons and illustrations that are used across the sales, auditing, and reporting process which serve to clarify and unify key messages about the PPH offering.
  • Energia Eficiente has a new sales presentation that has greatly improved the sales team ability to explain the program to potential participants.
  • Energia Eficiente staff now has a comprehensive set of marketing tools, templates, and brand guidelines which they are easily able to update and expand upon.

FORGING AHEAD

With clarity about how to explain the PPH program, Energia Eficiente is experiencing greater ease in their communications and confidence in their business development efforts. Its leadership team has a map showing where the team can make incremental changes to improve its customers’ experiences over time. After training in how to use their collateral, members of Energia Eficiente’s leadership team have been able to update presentations and sales materials on an ongoing basis.


 

CLIENT

Energia Eficiente

SERVICES

Customer/user experience planning

Brand and message development

FOCUS

Economic Impact


“Definitely the work we did together and the several inputs received are being of great help to the development of our business.”

– Thiago Simões, Energia Eficiente