A Year of UX Design at Course Hero

The journey to joining Course Hero as a UX/UI Designer. The experience of meeting inspiring and challenging team members affirmed the decision to become part of the Course Hero design team.

Jun 9, 2017

Jan 30, 2022



 min read

A Year of UX Design at Course Hero

It all started with an email from a technical recruiter for a UX/UI Designer position at Course Hero, the premier learning and study resources website.

After that were the phone interviews.

And the requisite design task.

And, at last, the onsite interviews.

It was in these interviews that I met the kind of people I’ve always known I wanted to work with — people who could inspire and challenge me. From that point on, my goal was simple: join the Course Hero design team.

Fast-forward twelve months.

The Design Team and the Mission

We’ve gone from 7 designers just twelve months ago to the current team of 14 that includes UI/UX Designers, Marketing Designers, Visual Designers, and Design Leads, Managers, and Producers.

Our team works from the same, results-oriented mission that motivates the entire organization:

  • Deliver business success
  • Create outstanding user experiences
  • Build compelling brands
  • Contribute to the product vision with research-based, actionable insight

Each member of our team focuses on a different area of the product (mobile, user engagement, study tools, and so on), but regardless of our individual domain, we are all committed to collaborating — sharing ideas, techniques, and best practices — and we are all committed to being champions for our users.

A Culture of Success

Course Hero’s company values are evident in our work. The level of openness and trust throughout the organization is truly amazing. As designers, we are constantly involved in brainstorming sessions with product teams to come up with roadmap initiatives. We then collaborate with product managers and analytics on prioritizing and project planning.

Throughout all phases of a project, it’s the core values of Course Hero that keep us focused, yet inspired and centered. For example, by thinking like owners, we seek to do what’s best for Course Hero and we take seriously our individual responsibilities for creating the best experience for students and educators.

Another value reminds us that anything is possible, and so we are always encouraging each other to pilot innovative ideas. Our energy levels are high because we aren’t afraid to fail, and the atmosphere of enabling success is contagious.

Did I mention that we have a LOT of fun?

A Day in the Life

My day at Course Hero starts with morning greetings and maybe sharing an interesting design article on our Slack channel.

Our design team meets twice a week for regular design critiques, design demos, and brainstorming sessions that highlight design patterns, user interfaces, and design flexibility. Our designers have diverse technical backgrounds, which gives us a good foundation for prototyping and encourages us to try new ways to accomplish various tasks. This diversity also helps us model designs that are more user-focused.

The designers at Course Hero conduct user research to gather qualitative insights which we then use to create affinity diagrams and user journey maps, and do SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. We also use that data to employ various brainwriting techniques and work with crazy eights.

At Course Hero, designers are encouraged to think really big, knowing that many of our crazy ideas can actually be done. When someone identifies a better way of doing something, they discuss it with the team, and we let the idea or solution sink in — acting on another value of the organization that tells us to picture success and plot a course.

Our design team also has a weekly meeting where we share updates and discuss strategies. As we grow as a team, we are constantly building, defining, and refining our best practices, guidelines, and documentation so that we maintain consistency across the designs we deliver.

The Power of Collaborative Design

A superior design is not easy to create. It’s a group effort by the entire organization. At Course Hero, the design team works side-by-side with analysts, product managers, engineers, and the Course Hero community. Teams often partner with their counterparts on other projects, so collaboration is encouraged — and happens — in every direction. For example:

  • We partner with Course Hero’s Community Team to collect feedback from user research and user testing. With this information, we can evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data and communicate our reasons for making design decisions.
  • Course Hero Analysts provide us with quantitative data from A/B test results, behavior flows, and conversion patterns so we can evaluate the performance of our designs and keep making improvements.
  • Product managers at Course Hero do a great job of providing constructive feedback on designs. They understand and share our commitment to designing and delivering the best experience for our users.
  • Course Hero engineers are dedicated to excellence. They care about the details, and they focus on shipping code that’s optimized to provide the best product experience for our users. We all understand that great design is integral to our product, so we are committed to the open communication and collaboration that lets us work efficiently towards our common goals.

Course Hero supports employee growth and invests in professional development by encouraging us all to attend design conferences, take educational courses, and get together for regular team off-sites — everything from workshops to game nights, baking contests, and (my favorite) ping-pong tournaments. These activities are just another way of developing the culture and implementing the values that allow us to empower our users and help them succeed.

Reflecting Back

As a UX Designer at Course Hero, I help design experiences that shape the future of learning and teaching. I am inspired by the impact our designs have on students and educators, and I am proud to be part of the process that makes that happen. It has been a wonderful and a memorable first year for me at Course Hero.

Want to Know More?

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a note. And, if you are a designer or researcher, consider a career at Course Hero — we’re hiring!