I was tasked with a week-long solo project to design a web app helping educators learn names more quickly.

WHEN February 2017
ROLE  Designer, researcher
TOOLS   Figma, Google Forms


Names and Faces
At the beginning of each new semester or school year, teachers are faced with the challenge of remembering names for a large number of new students. Design an experience to help an educator match faces to names, with the goal of shortening the time needed to reach complete un-aided accuracy. Provide a high-fidelity mock for at least one step of this experience.


When teachers learn student names, it creates a better educator-student relationship and dramatically improves students’ learning experience. How can students achieve this relationship in classes with over a hundred students? Teaching assistants (TAs), who work with memorizable numbers of students but who often have little educational training or experience, offer a sweet spot for the use of tools that can leverage that improved learning experience into being.

Final Designs

I aided in a major redesign of the UW's Housing & Food Services website by leading and designing a study to evaluate usability. I planned the study similar to the Boundless study, with an additional emphasis on evaluating the information architecture of the site.


  1. Research (Survey, interviews, persona creation)

  2. Ideation (Whiteboarding, idea selection)

  3. Prototyping (User flows, wireframes, peer critique)

  4. Refinement (Iterations from feedback, high-fidelity mockup, flow diagram)

Research Findings

Through my research, I learned that the purpose of learning names was to provide a better learning experience through a better student-educator relationship. However, there are several obstacles preventing educators from learning names.

Research was conducted via a survey to 11 different educators, secondary research online, and informal interviews. Results were synthesized using affinity analysis.

Some of the obstacles to learning names:

  • Similar names and faces are hard to tell apart

  • More students = more difficult to learn names

  • Unfamiliar names are especially difficult to learn


Based on ideas from my research, I brainstormed possible concepts on a whiteboard by sketching and writing to explore different directions before moving forward with one idea.

I decided to move forward with a language learning-based ideology around learning names, Students with unfamiliar names shouldn't be disadvantaged just because their name is hard to learn and pronounce. Proper pronunciation is just as important to learn as the name and face.

User Flows and Initial Screen Design

I designed five tasks that a TA could potentially accomplish using the application:

  • View different classes

  • Practice student names by testing knowledge

  • Learn name pronunciation

  • Identify which names need to be practiced more

Once I had sketched out my screens on a whiteboard, I quickly created paper wireframes and annotated them with sticky notes. I taped the wireframes on the wall and listened to critique from another designer.

After the wireframe critique, I decided to make the following changes to implement in my high-fidelity mockup:

  • Visually represent which student names need to be practiced on the section view screen

  • Add a practice button on the main courses screen to allow for all-course practicing

  • Add strength bars to both section view screen and and main course view screen

Final Thoughts

If I could have done more during this design exercise, I would have loved to see how my learning method works. How quickly could a TA learn names using this system? Does it work long-term? Is it enjoyable? It would have been fun to test different methods of memorization and see which works best. I would also show different methods of practicing names, such as matching multiple names and faces and having to listening to a name without seeing it, then choosing a face.

If I were to work with a developer to build Nametag, I would also send them this name pronunciation API and the Canvas API. Canvas is the system the University of Washington uses for class assignments and grading. Using these two APIs, the developer can pull class enrollment lists, then run the names through the pronunciation API, which would return an audio recording of the name and phonetic pronunciation.