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W. W. Norton—Student Activity Editor

UX · W. W. Norton & Co, Inc · 2015-2016

The W. W. Norton Activity Editor allows authors and editors to create, manage, and publish activities relevant to their books. Our team set out to update the code based editor into a straightforward question and assignment creation tool.


Since this editor was being used for a number of projects, we had an idea of how it was being used, but needed to see the users in action before we started our designs. Contextual inquiries were a great way to confirm requirements and discover issues that the users didn’t realize were blockers.

Editor comparing Inquizitive Assignment to original document

These interviews helped us determine that one of the biggest issues was that the editor did not reflect how the questions were displayed to the students. We also discovered that users took advantage of external tools to track changes while copy-editing their assignments. We followed up our contextual inquiries by holding a design studio to confirm our findings with our users and establish priorities.


Our solution was to build an editing tool that was flexible and resembled what the user would see in the student view. By creating designs that have the same base structure we were able to append sections to question types that had very specific needs without drastically changing the experience for the user.

This improved the learning curve for the user but negatively impacted the Word Track Changes workflow.

Aligning design patterns

After a while we had a huge number of screens to manage. We took a day to review them on paper and make sure we were consistent with our patterns!

Printed wireframes laid out on a desk

These tools will be used to create many questions and activities. This includes Norton’s formative adaptive quizzing tool called Inquizitive.

Question Type Wireframes

True or False questions