Designing an edTech product for emerging markets

We were approached by Notesmaster to help design and develop an educational platform to disrupt the educational systems in emerging markets such as the Caribbean, and African countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania.

We are incredibly pleased with our stakeholder response to the product redesign and with the clarity, simplicity and good design that Sandbar brought to the process.

Dean Dundas, CEO Notesmaster


The branding process is always helpful to focus thinking on businesses’ values and philosophies. This was a valuable stage in the product growth and helped define some of the guiding principles of the final product. It included definition of the target markets, their hopes and aspirations, as well as the aspirations of the business. Creating a chart where these intersected allowed use to create shortlist of keywords to focus on to develop the brand assets.

UX Solution Points

Users | Defining personas

User types were identified and their personas detailed to help highlight their motivations, goals and pain points. Largely split in to educators and students, the tasks of solving their varied goals was now quantifiable as to being a successful solution.

Registration | Information required vs difficulty

Knowing that the users were motivated to join meant the task of collecting the large amounts of data required for registration was made more straightforward - to aim for speed. Rather than splitting into steps, where users could drop out, one form was chosen, but with dynamically populated data to ensure only relevant information was presented. This allowed users to register in the minimal amount of time possible without too much hand-holding which could slow the process and lead to frustration.

Workspace | Navigation of large datasets

The task of enabling users to navigate a huge syllabus dataset with multiple entry points was complex. Prototypes were brainstormed and tested on real users before identifying which proved the fastest and least confusing.

Groups | Users connect

One of the primary goals of the platform was to connect users - students with teachers, teachers with teachers and students with other students, and a Groups feature was seen as a potential solution. Existing groups within educational institutions were interviewed and the way they interacted noted. This led to theories on how to recreate these connections in a digital format which could be tested with prototypes. The functionality was further enhanced by using features that already existed by then on the platform - messaging and sharing of resources. This allowed students access to invaluable learning materials and the ability to communicate with teachers and students taking similar classes.

Classes | Teachers manage students

The final piece of the puzzle was to enable teachers to manage their own classes, involving the goals of time-saving marking, administration and assignment distribution. Key to this feature would be to free up time for teachers, so this needed to be a simple and effective set of solutions. One pain point was the setting up of classes, which would be a yearly process. This was solved by using a mix of Machine Learning, which would collate groups of students for a teacher based on their subject choices, age, and educational institution, followed by a final check for the teacher to confirm. This would save hours of teacher administration.

Make it fun

One of the core brand keywords was a fun experience, so to stay true to this we chose to create bespoke animations using the Lottie tool developed at AirBnb. This allowed us to devise fun shape-based animations which could be instantly translated into code ready for implementation.


The resulting designs were translated into a React Native hybrid mobile app, which was deployed to both iOS and Android using a time-saving single codebase - and a lightweight Angular based web build.


The Notesmaster platform has now launched in multiple markets worldwide including Jamaica, Namibia, Seychelles, Vanuatu, Tanzania and Malawi and is being used by tens of thousands of students and teachers, some using digital educational tools for the first time. It’s now simple for teachers and students to manage their work online, freeing up their time to concentrate on more educational tasks.

Recently the project won the World Summit Award for innovation, further enforcing the success of the work.



Project in mind? Just want more information? Drop us a line and we’ll get straight back to you.

We use Google reCAPTCHA. Privacy | Terms