Lumio by SMART


Can we launch a SaaS offering that combines lesson delivery and educational content in one active learning platform?

This portfolio piece reflects work that SMART’s UX team delivered under my leadership as UX Manager and Head of UX.

For 18+ months, I led the UX Team in the launch of a new, flagship, educational software platform called Lumio. Previously, we had two online platforms for teachers, but neither was fully meeting their needs. We had SMART Exchange (SMEX), an online collection of un-curated, mainly user-generated, educational lesson content. And we had SMART Learning Suite Online (SLSO), a lesson delivery platform for SMART Boards and student devices. SMEX and SLSO were separate products that were only barely connected.


Lumio is the blend of SMART’s educational content, online lesson delivery, and data capabilities into one active learning platform. It unlocks interactive, collaborative learning with student device deployments. Lumio provides teachers with an extensive library of free interactive content and resources (activities, widgets, videos) that teachers can use to add engaging interactivity to their lessons.

Key changes:

•   Combines our lesson delivery platform (SLSO) and our educational content platform (SMEX)
•   Introduces multiple tiers of pricing and functionality
•   Replaces a 45-day free trial with a perpetual free tier, to better support casual users
•   Renames and rebrands our flagship product

  • Role: UX Manager, Head of UX
  • Tools: Sketch, Miro, InVision, Adobe CC, Zeplin, Balsamiq
  • Timeline: July 2020 to Dec 2021 (18 months)


This was an extensive, cross collaborative effort that involved many different parts of the company working closely together. Here’s a selection of some key teams and individuals.

•   Alison: Head of UX, UX Manager
•   UX Design Team: 4-5 UX Designers on this project
•   User Research Team: 1-2 User Researchers on this project
•   Dan: VP of Software Products
•   Joe: Manager of Product Managers
•   Product Management Team: 4-5 PMs on this project
•   Colin: Manager of Dev Managers
•   Dev Management Team: 3 front-end dev teams, 3 back-end dev teams
•   Sarah: Product Marketing Director
•   Product Marketing Team: 5-7 Marketing Managers and Strategists


SMART has a healthy and diverse set of ways to get feedback from our users. We don’t just employ User Research and usability testing. We also learn from product usage analytics, detailed comments from our NPS questionnaire, surveys that we conduct after support calls, direct feedback from teachers being trained on our products, and monthly customer councils.

Research Findings

•   Teachers don’t have energy to learn yet another software tool. They would prefer the ease of having content, delivery, creation, and editing capabilities together in one tool.
•   Don't ask teachers to invest time into a new software tool with a short free trial. A free tier is preferred for evaluation.
•   North American education focus has shifted to student devices. Student device deployment had a 28% year-over-year growth before the pandemic, and has only accelerated since then. 18 million devices shipped into US K-12 in 2020; installed base reached 43 million by 2021.
•   COVID-19 school closures and remote learning increased the importance of software tools that fuel the effective use of student devices.


Market Context

•   The education market is moving away from disparate “tools” and toward all-in-one platforms
•   Leaders in this space offer lesson delivery + content + interactivity + data analytics
•   Student device penetration is swiftly increasing, but student collaboration tools are lagging
•   SMART software is in 1 in 5 North American classrooms, but mostly tied to our hardware sales; we're building a SaaS that can be decoupled from hardware sales.


This was a large, complex (and still ongoing) project. I’ll mainly focus on our deliverables for the Day 1 launch in February 2021, the steps that got us there, then what we delivered between Feb and Dec 2021. I'll also include a little preview of where it's going next.




Building a Team

Lumio was one of SMART’s key business initiatives, so in 2020, we invested in building up a team to help us accelerate it. We hired 2 new UX Designers, 4 teachers to create lesson content, 1 graphic designer to support those teachers, plus an entirely new front-end dev team in Spain that included 10 software developers and 1 Dev Manager.



Project Scope

•   Create a single entity where SMART’s content and delivery tools are one experience
•   Introduce a free tier and B2C subscription access
•   All lesson content on SMART Exchange gets scrubbed to be consistent and aesthetically pleasing
•   Revisit the naming of our combined software offering to make the new product more impactful / memorable (not “SMART Learning Suite Online”)
•   Instrument content and delivery tools with data metrics (stage 1 of our data platform initiative)
•   Go to market changes - target and speak to districts where we don’t sell hardware today





A structural re-design of our delivery platform was a key priority for the UX team when we began this project. We gave teachers one-click access to a gallery of educational content, free to use, without having to change platforms or workflows. We created a content showcase to spotlight our premium lessons. And we expanded our palette of ready-made activities, optimized for efficiency in the classroom.



B2C and Free Tier

We’ve evolved our software pricing strategy over the past few years. First our software was only sold with hardware as a subscription. But that led to user confusion that a software subscription was necessary to use the hardware (not true). Then we offered a free trial of the software, but no one wants to invest time and effort into a product if they’ll be locked out of it after 45 days unless they subscribe (and it was still a difficult process to subscribe). A Day 1 goal was to create a free tier, and enable easy B2C subscription purchases.

Pricing Principles

•   Industry standard pricing
•   Easy to understand, easy to buy
•   Options to purchase online or via our sales channel
•   Users can upgrade their subscription easily in-product
•   Multiple tiers of offerings to capture both grassroots adoption and district deployment
•   Strategy isn’t to target teachers to purchase, but make it very easy if they want to
•   Ultimate goal is district deployments. Teacher groundswell to drive district purchases




Since this was such a large and complex project, I'll focus on just a few key parts of the design work that had a significant impact on the product releases.


New Name and Logo

Our lesson delivery product’s previous name was “SMART Learning Suite Online”. That’s a mouthful. After a lot of debate, we aligned on Lumio as our new name, and launched it in June 2021. The firefly in the logo represents the luminescence, and the spark of “aha” lightbulb moments that our software is designed to enable. This new name and logo will help reach new customers and distinguish Lumio as a product, making it easier to talk about with customers, and easier for teachers to share.



New Landing Page

Previously, a user going to our product website would be pushed straight to the sign in page, without any sort of information about what this product is. This worked fine for existing users, but was clearly the wrong approach if we wanted to grow our user base.

Solution: design a set of landing pages that provide our users with relevant information: What is this product? How does it work? Why should I care? How much does it cost?



Updated Workflows and Design

Here are some “before” and “after” screens. Previously, we had SMART Learning Suite Online (SLSO) and SMART Exchange (SMEX) as two entirely separate platforms. SLSO was a lesson delivery platform, and SMEX was an educational content collection. One of the key changes coming out of the Lumio project was the merging of these platforms, so that teachers have a wealth of ready-to-use, high-quality lesson content that is easily accessible from their lesson delivery platform.






Design System

Before I became the UX Manager, SMART never had a fully developed Design System, and I decided this would be an ideal situation to finally create one. I gave ownership of the Design System creation and maintenance to one of the UX Designers on Lumio, and I'm really pleased with her work.

Having a Lumio Design System has created numerous efficiencies for the UX and engineering teams, reduced UX debt related to visual design, and greatly sped up the onboarding process when we hire new designers.



We employ a variety of feedback mechanisms, including usability tests and data metrics to learn from our users, and continuously iterate to improve Lumio. After the initial launch, we identified some ways we could increase adoption with improvements to our onboarding process.





Inclusivity and accessibility is important to me. I assigned a Senior UX Designer with special education experience to become our UX Accessibility expert, and be available for consultations with the engineering and UX teams on accessibility improvements. We hired a 3rd party agency to do an accessibility audit, then spent several sprints making the corrections they indicated.



Lumio has been a really rewarding project to work on. It was an extensively cross-collaborative initiative and we achieved our key milestones.



The Lumio team has already been recognized in the EdTech industry with a number of significant awards from key publications and groups. Here is a selection of the awards we won in 2021.



Data Metrics

Implementing data metrics to measure how we’re doing has been a key part of this project. We have weekly interlock meetings with the Data, Sales, Marketing, and Product Development teams to keep an eye on all of our KPIs and adjust our strategies if there’s a problem.



Next Steps

Due to confidentiality reasons, I can’t be too detailed about our next steps for Lumio, but here’s a peek at some of the more publicly acknowledged ones.