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W. W. Norton—Prospero Design

UX · W. W. Norton & Co, Inc · 2017-2018

Our goal was to design a homework creation tool that gives instructors the freedom to teach the way they like. The design must be flexible and so that it meets the needs of the students, instructors, and editors at W. W. Norton.


Prospero is a unique product for Norton, and we knew that we had a good base of information that would set us on the correct path. Moving to high-fidelity wireframes for Prospero was a blast.

We knew that the content would look different depending on the course teaching it. Considering that, we decided to keep the design intentionally minimal. Prospero should act as a frame for the content and help the editor or instructor focus on building their assignment. We used patterns that we designed during two previous projects. Using these patterns for our new screens helped us refine the existing work and allowed us to codify and establish design system for Prospero.

We used a two column design - the left being for content provided by Norton, and the right column displays the new assignment. This layout mimics how we had seen editors in the company working. Some would have two Word documents open side by side, and others would have papers and books laid out on their desk.

The design separates the content into readings, activities, media, and instructor content. The stakeholders requested the ability to add NY Times articles, youtube videos, or Spotify playlists. To accommodate these requests, we designed an Instructor Content screen that allows instructors to add custom content to their assignments. Custom content includes text, articles, videos, links, or embed codes. Instructions wanted to arrange the items in their assignments so that they could teach their classes in their preferred way. To keep the drag and drop accessible, we included keyboard and screen reader functionality.

Since Norton has never had a product like this, we took some risks and designed some features based on a few assumptions. We created a document of things we wanted to confirm in user testing. We ran User Testing with five instructors. After five tests we went ahead and made changes to the design to make things better.


After our research and strategy, we created an editorial editor, instructor editor, and student player, Class activity reports. By designing all of these editors, we created an extensive design library for an accessible product.

The product design tested very well, with 70% success rate.

Prospero is about to launch as beta to test with larger classes with the following books: Psychological Science 5, Enjoyment of Music 13

Editorial Screens

Adding Content

Class Activity Reports