Online Tutoring

Upchieve aims to close the achievement gap by providing free, on-demand tutoring and college counseling. We redesigned Upchieve’s onboarding experience to reach more students.

YEAR: 2019
MY ROLE: Product designer (volunteer)
Upchieve Illustration
Illustration by Upchieve.

The Problem

UPchieve can only realize its mission if it reaches real students. Because the ed-tech nonprofit is still young, most students currently come to Upchieve via referrals from partner organizations. UPchieve has trouble conveying to these new users how its service can help them, leading to low first-time request rates, match rates and return rates in the app.

Upchieve Successful User Journey
A successful user journey in the Upchieve app.

First-Time Request Rate

UPchieve’s partner organizations often refer students directly to the app’s “Log in” page (instead of UPchieve’s marketing site). This means that users have little context for their first experience in the app, and earlier testing sessions showed that users found the existing dashboard intimidating. To encourage first-time help requests, we focused on redesigning the new user’s dashboard to give more context: highlighting a tour of the app, using clear language and imagery, and rephrasing the call to action from “Get help” to the friendlier “Start a chat.”

Upchieve Log In Page (Desktop)
Log in page.
Upchieve First-time User Dashboard
First-time user dashboard.
Upchieve First-time User Dashboard (Mobile)
First-time user dashboard.
Upchieve Subject Selection Modal (Mobile)
Subject selection modal.
Upchieve Dashboard Interactions (Mobile)
Dashboard interactions (looping GIF).

Match Rate

The student-tutor match rate (i.e. a student matches with a tutor after requesting help) may be the most important metric indicating a student’s successful first-time experience with UPchieve. Data showed that if a student’s wait time for a tutor surpasses five minutes, the student is likely to abandon the session. We also knew that if a student does not successfully match during their first session, they are less likely to return to UPchieve. We designed a more transparent waiting experience in order to encourage students to wait for an available tutor, making a successful match more likely.

Upchieve Chat Waiting (Mobile)
Chat waiting.
Upchieve Chat and Whiteboard (Mobile)
Chat and whiteboard.
Upchieve Chat Waiting (Desktop)
Whiteboard with chat waiting.
Upchieve Chat and Whiteboard (Desktop)
Whiteboard with chat.

Return Rate

If a student successfully matches with a tutor on their first try, they’re more likely to return to UPchieve in the future. (Think of the behavior science insight that users most remember and judge an experience by its highest, lowest and end point.) Therefore, solving Upchieve’s match rate problem also improves Upchieve’s return rate problem. Additionally, we redesigned the return user’s dashboard to highlight their progress in the app – emphasizing the subject which the student requested before. (User research showed that students tend to rely on UPchieve for one subject in particular.)

Upchieve Returning User Dashboard (Desktop)
Returning user dashboard.
Upchieve Design System
Upchieve’s new design system.


After launching these features to improve first-time request rate, 54% of students who made Upchieve accounts this school year have requested help at least once. That's compared to 42% of students who made accounts the school year before.

Designed and developed by Victoria Sgarro, 2022.