The vast majority of the flashcards on Chegg Prep® come from our students. Its vast library of user-generated content is a primary reason for its success as a product. So, it was important to give students a way to create cards!
As I mentioned in the “flipper” writeup, we were effectively building Prep as a new product from the ground up, but armed with the knowledge we’d gained from an earlier product.
Both Prep and its spiritual ancestor, StudyBlue, serve two different types of student. One type prefers to create their own flashcards and study them (about 15% of total users). The other (85%) prefers to search for relevant flashcards that someone else has already created. There is exhaustive scholarly research showing that the flashcard creators are likely to be more successful in using their flashcards for memorization tasks, but there’s also research showing that following certain content guidelines will make flashcards more effective regardless of the user. So we had our work cut out for us! How do we make a product that appeals to both types of student?
To serve the needs of content creators, we need a best-in-class authoring tool. To serve the content borrowers, we need high-quality content that’s easily discoverable. The editor tackles both sides of the equation by being an efficient, responsive authoring tool that also subtly encourages flashcard creation best practices, like appropriate length of content and appropriate number of cards per deck. We also make it easy to tag your deck to a course you’re taking, which with the help of our course taxonomy allows other students to find the flashcards most relevant to their needs.
This project was nearly two years in the making, all told. I was the sole designer on it, and in the early stages I conducted both exploratory and evaluative research with our students (we were fortunate to have a full-time researcher join the team shortly after we began).