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W. W. Norton—Prospero Strategy

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

Prospero is a unique product for Norton. Researching with stakeholders and doing a competitive analysis of similar products set us on the right path, but there were still a lot of unknowns. Our goal was to create a design that enabled editors to create assignments, instructors to modify them, and students to have an assignment that matches their instructors teaching style.

We had a pretty good idea of where we wanted our designs to go after creating a workflow that includes both creating new and editing existing Prospero Assignments.


Based on what we learned from the stakeholders, we came up with a workflow diagram to lead our designs:

To start exploring what Prospero might be, we took the steps of our workflow and laid them out as the step-by-step wizard the stakeholders had requested. The digital content differed between disciplines but was easy to put into general groups. Activities for music use the same product that a psychology activity does. Instead of customizing the ‘add content’ screens per discipline, we generalized and put content into simple labels like “reading,” “media,” and “activities.”

We assumed that Psychology instructors have different needs for their assignments than a music instructor has. At the same time, we were curious where these instructing styles overlapped between disciplines. To investigate this, we created wireframes and workflows based on the requirements the stakeholders had provided.

The stakeholders wanted Prospero to have a “wizard” that walked instructors through the assignment creation process. Prospero would give instructors the ability to create assignments from scratch, or modify “pre-made” assignments created by Norton editors. All Prospero assignments were initially required to include an ebook reading. Once an ebook reading was selected, Prospero would present content based on that chapter or section. Each “add” page would have content recommended for that chapter.

Our first designs used the linear “wizard” workflow that the requirements document defined. We presented this workflow along with a few low fidelity wireframes to confirm we were heading in the right direction. These initial designs let us explore some options and helped us ask questions about the requirements. For example, we were unsure how necessary adding a chapter or section of the ebook was required to continue creating an assignment.

Eventually, we proposed removing as much structure as possible and letting the instructors show us how they’d use the product instead of dictating how they should use it. We presented this concept to the stakeholders and moved forward with the ‘choose your own adventure’ edition of Prospero.


Exploring workflows and checking them against requirements improved and expanded our strategy. Instead of creating a wizard that was rigid in added content to an assignment, we would let the instructors show us how they wanted to create assignments. One of the goals of Prospero was to allow users to mix and match this content and it became apparent that they would also need the ability to move around freely within the assignment editor.

The resulting workflow covers creating a new assignment from scratch, editing a Norton pre-made assignment, and using a pre-made assignment as is. The workflow is flexible and enables the user to choose how to create their homework to fit different teaching styles. Prospero is a new type of product for W. W. Norton, and we wanted to use this opportunity to learn as much as possible from the instructors.

First Wireframes