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Redesigning Simbi Assignments

A demo of how to assign a book on Simbi.

We redesigned Simbi’s Assignments feature to be faster to use, while being information-dense and utilitarian.


My Role

I worked on user-flows and IA, wireframes, and final visual designs.



2 UX designers, 1 product manager and developer team.



67% increase in average number of assignments created.

In the previous Assignment Creator, adding questions meant filling out multiple large forms.


Simbi is a reading platform for ages 6-12, with a library of books and teacher tools.
It focuses on reading along and narration for building reading skills.

Teachers can assign books for students to read and narrate.

They can also ask comprehension questions to answer at the end.

Assignments is a key feature for Simbi’s teacher userbase.

Problem Area

Teachers often faced usability issues while creating and reviewing assignments.

Common issues they faced included:

Choosing reading activities for students

Finding books to assign

Creating comprehension questions

Tracking progress and listening to narrations


We aimed to make the assignment creation and review process easier.

We also worked on introducing the concept of the default effect and nudge theory. This would simplify assignment creation and bring attention to features like comprehension questions.

Research and Insights

How do we make assignments easier to use?

The team’s UX researcher identified several insights from observation and feedback.

Teachers often asked to be able to add multiple reading activities.

For example, they’d like the student to listen to the book before narrating it.

Scheduling assignments into the future was a frequently requested feature.

The ‘TellMe’ tool (to add comprehension questions at the end of a reading activity) was underused.
It lacked any guidance on its proper usage.

Teachers were sometimes confused about which assignment to check in on, as the list was poorly prioritized.

The old ‘Assignment Viewer’ feature didn’t help teachers prioritize where to start or focus on.
Proposed solution

We focused on offering pre-selected default options to simplify the teacher’s journey.

The redesign included:

A streamlined 2-step process to create a new assignment

A new assignment viewer with clearly visible group and student progress.


We followed principles that kept our ideas and outcomes simple.


Offering preselected default options during the teacher’s workflow improves usability – for choosing reading activities, comprehension questions etc.

This can reduce decision paralysis and hesitation.


Maintaining high information density is important, for efficiency while reviewing multiple assignments across student groups.

Key solution elements
Simbi Assignment Creator

Assignment Creator

A set of pre-selected default options lets teachers set up their assignments in one click.

Nudge theory states that default options influence people’s choices and is used in public policy, such as automatic organ donation registration unless opted out.

A teacher can choose one, two or all three activities at once. One of the TellMe questions is chosen at random as the default question for a new assignment.

The ‘Narrate’ reading activity is now selected by default.

We added new options to select multiple reading activities, a popular request from teachers.


We included a random comprehension question to ask at the end of an assignment.

Sample options were included in a drop-down menu. Teachers could also write their own questions.

This replaced an often-avoided textbox, and added examples to help teachers understand the feature.

Part 2: Assignment Viewer.
Easier to prioritize, with visible data

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The high information density helps keep work efficient.

The new Assignment Viewer includes progress bars and completion stats for each assignment.

This helps teachers prioritize which one they’d like to review.

Buttons for ‘TellMe’ and ‘Narration’ gives quick access to a student’s responses to an assignment.

Viewing progress on an assignment

Teachers can filter through a list of students with completion status while viewing a single assignment.

Information Architecture

We removed large parts of the information architecture for Assignments to make it easier to maintain.

Early on, we removed one of the two ways to start creating assignments.

Previously, teachers could choose books from a small, hard-to-use view of the Library while creating an assignment. This was a frustrating experience and didn’t keep up with updates to the main Library feature.
Now, teachers assign books directly from the main Library.

Removing this redundant feature also simplified and reduced bugs in the Simbi codebase.

Iterations that didn’t work

previous arrow
Issues with the creator prototype
Stacked headings
Coloring checkboxes
Revised checkboxes
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Issues with the creator prototype
Issues with the creator prototype
Stacked headings
Stacked headings
Coloring checkboxes
Coloring checkboxes
Revised checkboxes
Revised checkboxes
previous arrow
next arrow

67% average increase in assignments created

Teachers created more assignments than they did at the same time last year, measured a month after release.

Next Steps

Fixing issues with the progress bars on the Assignment Viewer.

After release, we received feedback from teachers about confusing progress bar supporting text.

The supporting text ,eg ‘Assigned to 08/12’ gives the impression that only 8 students were given the assignment. It can also be confused for a date, eg a day and month.

Adding support for assignments with multiple books attached to them

We initially planned to let teachers add multiple books in an assignment, but this was put on hold.

Multi-book assignments was now planned to be launched with a library-wide ‘collections’ feature.

The current design will have to be adapted to let teachers create assignments by choosing collections.