The Company

Pleasanton Tutoring Inc, is a private tutoring company located in Pleasanton, California. The company was founded by Amanda Brown in 2009 and the number of clients and tutors has grown steadily every year. They have won Pleasanton Weekly’s People’s Choice Award for five consecutive years and are the top rated tutoring company on Yelp.


The current app was implemented when there were less than 100 students and a handful of tutors with two full-time employees to manage them. Pleasanton Tutoring now manages over 500 students and 42 tutors with the same two full-time employees.

The Challenge

The current Pleasanton Tutoring app was designed to help the company serve its clients better while continuing to grow. This app redesign is a continuation of that goal with the additional challenge of adopting a current app framework on a limited development budget.

What Pleasanton Tutoring needs is a modern app that will allow them to continue to grow while still providing their client's with the best possible tutoring.

The Current App

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Managing clients and tutors is currently achieved with a WordPress SPA. Clients, tutors and employees all have accounts with varying levels of functionality and permissions but all use the same app.

  • Clients can pay their bills and perform basic scheduling.
  • Tutors can see a list of students and their current schedule.
  • Employees essentially have superuser access with all account and billing management functionality.

.  .  .


To better understand how the business worked and how the app is used in context I observed the principle employee during her typical workday. I also recorded voice-over screencasts of the employee explaining what she was doing and why. Afterwards I conducted extensive interviews to better understand the entire process of matching a client up with their student's ideal tutor.

GIF of screencast

GIF of screencast

Picture of desktop

Picture of desktop

Key takeaways:

  • The current app uses drill-down, click-heavy navigation.

  • The employee signs up each client over the phone using the app on a desktop computer.

  • There is no system for collecting marketing information.

  • Classes are tracked with a Google Spreadsheet.

  • Almost all tutor information is tracked from memory by the principle employee.


Immediately after my research I try to question some basic assumptions of the process I've observed.

I do this by asking “WHY?”

I begin with WHY because it encompasses the broadest assumptions that a business makes about every aspect of its clients/users. I believe this can also help avoid thinking that every problem has an ‘app solution’.

  • Why is the employee signing up clients?
  • Why is email the primary means of tracking work?
  • Why are more than six emails, texts or phone calls needed to initiate one session of tutoring?
  • Why are text/voice/email used for communication between tutors, clients and employees?
  • Why is the employee mentally tracking all the tutor/client/class information?

Coming up with answers to these questions started generating ideas for the new app. I then sorted these ideas into interrelated groups and started zeroing in on the ideas that could have the most impact on the user experience.

One major assumption that would most directly impact not only Pleasanton Tutoring's business but the client's perception of the brand is the onboarding process.



Phased App Rollout

As I built up a wishlist for the new app I realized quickly that this would exceed Pleasanton Tutoring's development budget. So I sorted these ideas into development phases.

A three phased app rollout will help the small development team breakdown