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  • Role: Design Lead | Creative Direction

Every Inkling Makes a Difference

Students from grades 3 to 8 create their own original storybook about how they, their family, or their community can live more sustainably. Once their storybook is created, students can enter it into a Scholastic contest to win a $10,000 scholarship from HP.

It’s All About the Students

How do we create an intuitive, easy to use storybook creation tool for 3rd to 8th grade students? That was the question posed to our design team as we began this unique project.

We began our research by inviting students from within our target age group to come into the office and explore features and concepts using an existing online story creation tool. This exploration allowed us to learn how students would use particular features and perform certain tasks, but more importantly we were able to learn about what features they didn’t use and why. Questions asked from the students gave us valuable insights into how the different age groups approach the tasks given to them. Were certain features confusing or critical tasks difficult to perform?

Through this initial research, I was able to create student personas that were used throughout the design and implementation of the product.


One of many student personas used as a reference throughout the project.

What Did We Learn?

Students aged 8-14 have a wide range of computer skills. They also approach tasks quite differently. Some students focused on the visual style of the page - taking their time to add, move, and resize characters in order to tell the story visually. Other students quickly added characters and assets to the page, choosing to focus more on writing a well-constructed story.

When creating the user experience for this application, I needed to ensure that both aspects of the story creation process were intuitive, removing complex interactions and providing helpful tips along the way.

Design Goals

With access to a large library of Lorax assets from Universal Studios, I wanted to create a product that was colorful and fun, encouraging the students to be playful with their stories while still being intuitive and easy to use. But, I needed to make sure students never lost sight of the goal of the tool - create a storybook on sustainability.

Challenges and Solutions

Various Skill Levels

Based on our student interactions and research, we saw the need to provide affordances for mistakes and frustration by including large text input areas, easy drag and drop functionality, and simple edit and resize asset controls.


Large Character and Asset Library

With an ever-growing library of assets, we wanted to make sure it was easy for students to find what they were looking for without detering from the overall experience.


Inline Help

Inline help overlays would be used to provide assistance within the product without the need to navigate away from the tool.



To help the students focus on the story creation process, the design team created a large number of visually rich background templates that included a variety of characters, assets, and text input fields.


Colorful & Playful Environment

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