Google Design Challenge A Conceptual Name and Face Matching App for Educators

Design Sprint, Android

Situation Analysis

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. Many educators believe that knowing exactly who each student is helps to improve the classroom climate. But many instructors find learning students' names difficult and frustrating. If the classes are large lecture classes, the challenge may seem impossible.


The goal of this design challenge is create a digital experience to simplify and quicken the process of learning students’ names, thereby improving classroom environments.

Potential User Groups

Target Audience

1. Educators teach diverse classes in the heterogeneous countries like the US

     Classes are commonly mixed with various cultures, languages, and backgrounds.

      Educators teach diverse classes in US


  • Full time teachers
  • Substitute teachers
  • ELL teachers



2. Educators in homogeneous countries like China or Japan tend to teach

    classes that contain one language and a single culture

     They have less problems with pronouncing students' names but still struggle with remembering all students' names

     due to the high popularity in each class in theses countries.

3. Educators teach in other countries

      They need to deal with both memorizing and pronouncing students' names and mostly the  language barrier tends to

      make the task even harder to accomplish.

Observation & Assumptions

  • Multilingual and tonal names are more common in a heterogeneous country like the US
  • Most teachers use printed name list to take attendance
  • Many schools have unified Email system, some utilize Gmail services
  • Schools require students to take ID photos and use them for digital profiles
  • Each individual educator is the only one to define what is difficult or easy for themselves


To validate my assumptions and discover more real problems, I conducted several interviews. Due to the time limitation, I only managed to interview 7 teachers with different teaching background and experience to find out their common and unique goals, needs, and user behaviors. Three persona were created as representatives of different user groups.


Interview Questions

Basic info(Age, job)

What do you feel about learning students’ names?

Do you have trouble matching faces with the names of students on your class roster?

Have you had troubles remembering or pronouncing students’ names?

How long do you take to remember all of your students’ names each semester?

What would you do to boost your name-learning process?

Have you had any bad experiences due to forgetting a student’s name?

Is there any software you use to aid in your teaching?

Persona 1

Caleb Mantel, 28

A full-time English Language teacher at a public high school

       Goals & Needs

  • Create and maintain a healthy classroom environment, in part through creating and maintaining strict seating charts
  • Keep on track with state learning goals by encouraging positive learning behaviors in the classroom
  • Interact with a higher regularity of multinational and tonal language based names


       User behavior

  • Regularly teaches different levels of English Language Learners
  • Aims to recall entire class list after two weeks of class
  • Maintains a substitute folder with lesson plans, seating charts, and instructions for a day he misses

What does he say?

"There is something uniquely embarrassing about forgetting or mispronouncing a student’s name. Not only have I embarrassed both of us, but I have slowed down the class. Parent teacher conferences are another concern. If i mispronounce a parent’s name it can really offend them and make their relationship with he school worse, not to mention they can make my life a lot harder. FYI, not to mention the foreign names I'm not familiar with, lots of time it is difficult to tell apart the common English names neither."

Persona 2

Jamison Taube, 26

A substitute teacher while finishing graduate school

       Goals & Needs

  • Obtain class lists from full time teachers
  • Maintain order in the classroom and carry out the full-time teacher’s instructions
  • Provide assistance as necessary


       User behavior

  • Substitutes over five classes a day 95% of the time
  • Most often receives hard copy name lists for each class
  • Spends five minutes every class taking attendance and studying the class list for each class

What does he say?

"Every time I say ‘Hey guys, it is impossible for me to remember all your names so don’t worry about remembering mine. Just call me whatever you like!’ I want them to know that I still respect them and don’t expect anything from them I don’t do myself. If there were some way for me to learn their names though, I would really appreciate that."

Persona 3

Shelby Shay, 23

An ELL teacher at an Korean church school in Chicago

       Goals & Needs

  • Develop and teach speaking and listening lessons to students, who often have no English language ability.
  • Interact with students in informal circumstances to encourage casual English language development
  • Operate as a teacher in an immigrant culture with a foreign language.


       User behavior

  • Teaches over 250 different students every week.
  • Works with 4-6 different ELL teachers to prepare for their individual classes
  • Spends little to no time taking attendance or practicing students’ names before needing to use them

What does she say?

"The issue I keep running into with my students’ names is that I’m figuring them out off of a sheet of paper, and that they are all very similar.  The Korean language is based around a set amount of phonetic symbols and all Korean names are 2-3 syllables so they can be very hard to tell apart. Even a slight mistake on my part may mean I am literally calling a student “dirty rag” by accident."

Define Problems

The interview helped me validate the original assumptions and identify the existing pain points.

Pain Points


1. Mispronouncing students’ names

For ELL teachers who work with non English speaking students or teachers who teach multicultural students, linguistic difficulties are a consistent problem. Hard to pronounce given names, unique spellings, and names from tonal languages each present issues that teachers do not have time to remedy with long memorization sessions.


2. Difficulties of front loading students names

Most ELL students choose to go by an English name, which doubles the already daunting task of remembering all the names for a class. Many teachers need a better way to memorize or front load students names. Many still use a pen and paper seating chart in this day and age.


3. Difficulties of matching the faces and names

Lots of students are using the most common English names and it is hard to tell apart. A multifaceted digital experience could significantly reduce teacher stress and improve the classroom environment.

Why remembering students’ names is important?


  • Communicate
  • Gain attention
  • Praise & Encourage
  • Discipline
  • Establishing emotional bonds
  • Fostering mutual respect
  • Classroom management (Ex: assigning groups with equal skills and or comfort levels)

Why correctly pronouncing students’ names is important?


  • Mispronouncing a student’s name gives them an impression that they are not important.
  • For students, especially the children of immigrants and English-language learners, a teacher who knows their name and can pronounce it correctly shows respect and marks a critical step in helping them feel welcome at school.
  • If students encounter teachers who do not take the time to learn their names it shows that those teachers do not care about them and starts to create a wall between students and teachers. Such a wall hinders education on a whole and can have long lasting effects on students of all ages.

What current methods teachers use to “jog memory”?


  • Fixed seats for the first few weeks
  • Let students give their name each time before they speak
  • Have a short quiz over students’ names
  • Name tags
  • Taking photos to be attached to the class roster next to the names
  • Draw students with simple sketches
  • Memorize a row of students per day
  • Associate students' names with someone in your memory as a good memory-jogging tool.

What software teachers commonly use to improve results and manage classes?

Non-Google Software




Kakao Talk




Google applications


Google Slides

Google Drive

Google docs

Google Calendar

Google Sheets

Design Insights

Based on the results of research and interviews, I decided that a mobile phone app would be the best due to its convenience for quizzing and referencing at any time. Many teachers work during long time periods with short breaks and could use this information at any locations when not by their computers.

      Design focus

  1. Obtain students' digital profiles from school through unified Email account
  2. Memorize students based on a class unit
  3. Attach pronunciation memo or voice memo to students' profiles
  4. Create or attach any personal comments for complete customization
  5. Self-quiz to reinforce memories


      Usability insights

  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Simply organize names and create lists based on completely customized choices
  • Connection to Google Translate for immediate pronunciation of students' names over one hundred languages. Also by knowing the actual meaning of students' names from foreign cultures is able to improve understanding students themselves rather than just memorizing names.
  • Attaching voice memos with students' profiles
  • High accuracy of matching names and faces
  • Shorten time of name learning process


      Content insights

        Adding details besides just names is helpful for memorization

       Details can include: Gender, grade, interests, homeroom teacher name


      Function insights

  • Create: New contacts, New classes
  • Share: All contacts at once, classes
  • Categorize: Labels, write details, add comments
  • Import: Images, contacts, seating charts, digital profiles, class lists from Gmail
  • Quiz: Name quiz, face quiz, quiz results

Google Capabilities Integration


Teachers can get their class list with email addresses included. Email addresses could be Gmail accounts with simple information such as names, pictures, and personal summaries already updated.

Google sites

These are easy to build and intuitive websites that can be used as assignments or assessments. Because these sites are linked to Google accounts it would also help reinforce the names and information the teachers are learning about their students. Building one of these could be a regular introductory assignment to the class.

Google Keep

Users can create any customized memos in Google keep that can be easily connected to the app.

Google Translate

This app can help in accurate pronunciation for multiple languages. If a name or term is outside a teacher’s scope of understanding, they can use Google translate to hear how it’s pronunciation. Idea: Sound clips can also be saved and attached to student profiles or other documents for later use and memorization purposes.

Sketches include my memos during interviews and brainstorming the structures and contents of the app.


In this fast-paced design time-line, I was able to communicate to a few users with diverse teaching experience and constantly getting feedback from them. Multiple user tests were conducted through the process. All the design decisions were made based on the combination of my knowledge in interaction design and suggestions from real end users.

User Flow

User flow was created to present main structure and functions of the app. It also demonstrates the key features and interactions throughout the experience. There are four main features - create, organize, share and quiz. In "create" function, there are three special features, including attach voice memos, connect to Google translate, and import files are designed to meet the unique objectives of this app.


Scrolling page to browse all names

Name Quiz

Quiz Results

New class

Names (List)


Add new name

Login with Gmail

Sort imported names


Class list

New quiz

Create new quiz

from existing lists

Selected names are shown on top

Face Quiz

Quiz History of

this class

Class content

Edit class content

Extra options

Create new class

from names

Selected names are shown on top for quick change

Names (Grid)

Add name, class, quiz or import files


Wireframe were sketched quickly for simple user testing and gathering feedback. Functional consistency and navigational clarity were the main goals at this stage.

  • Users must login with Google account to be able to access to students' digital profiles, Google translate, Google keep or other Google applications.
  • System will automatically sort names based on users' preferences, including alphabetical, similarity and familiarity.
  • Users can create customized seating charts with text, simple shapes and colors and simply drag the photos to the seats assigned.


Iterations and Modifications based on user feedback

Based on the feedback, I made adjustments to certain visual designs and functions to achieve better user experience.


1. Three dots bottom on the right corner is confusing, changed to a flowing bottom

2. Change"List" to"Class"

3. Square photo frames for quiz section is inconsistent with entire design style

Interface Design

This mobile app is dedicated to the memorization of students' names, focusing on the design solution relevant to organize and iterate the important information of students. Android design principles are the main considerations for deciding UI patterns.

Name & Class Lists

  • Sort names are sorted by Alphabetical order, date, gender, grade, and homeroom teacher.
  • Icons and simple motifs allow users to get important information at a glance.
  • A floating icon allows access to further functions at all times.
  • Lists can be browsed in a list or grid format.
  • Swiping gestures reveal quick choices to add, share, or delete contacts.
  • Menu icon allows access to basic functions from any screen.


Floating icon


  • Further functions allow users to easily add new names, create new classes, create new quiz, share their database, or import files.

Class Contents

  • Sorting students into class lists offers the at a glance info in a more organized format with the added functionality of viewing attached files like seating charts.
  • The floating button adapts to the change in organization allowing the same functions for a specific class.
  • The menus follow the same adaptation process keeping the design familiar, but the options fitting to this class.

Quiz Creation

  • Quizzes can be created from a master list or imported from specific classes.
  • When selecting individual contacts, students icons appear in the upper screen.  From there, they can be swiped up or down to easily delete them as well.
  • When creating new contacts, users can include relevant information such as grade, gender, or miscellaneous text and audio notes.
  • Names have built in links to Google translate for easy pronunciation help. The sound clip functionality allows users to make their own pronunciation aids as well.
  • Text notes and labels are fully customizable with text sizes fonts, colors, and photo import functionality.

Contact Creation & Notes

Quiz Types

  • Quizzes can be taken based on discerning faces or names from groups.

Quiz Results

  • Quiz results can be viewed to give users a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • This allows teachers to develop recall when seeing students in person or when working with nothing but their assignments.
  • Results can also be viewed in a graphic format for easier user comprehension.

Risk and Difficulties

1. How to classify extract information to the format of the mobile app from import digital profiles from Gmail account?

At the moment, I have no way to automatically extract information from a Google account or to import it into the format of the app. Right now, a user must manually open Gmail to look at a contacts Gmail account and then manually enter the contacts information into the app.


2. Inaccurate pronunciation in Google Translate

While Google translate is nothing short of amazing, it is not always correct in its pronunciations of names. To remedy this, there is a record function where users can take audio notes on individual contacts, so they can simply ask their students. There should be a way for students to record their own audio note and attach it to their Google profile so it can be automatically imported with the rest of their data.


 3. How can users save and send the pronunciation sound clip from Google translate to the student's profile or other users?

At the moment, a common user can only copy translated text from Google translate.  A very computer literate user could use developer tools on the Google translate website to download the audio file, but this method is impractical and far beyond the skill level of the average user.


4. How can we make student information secure if a phone is lost, stolen, or its security is compromised?

Student information may be relatively easy to obtain, but it is their private data and it needs to be carefully guarded. Right now, the only safe guard against this is the any existing lock on the device. Some ideas to secure the information is requiring a sign in to a users Google account every time they use the device and implementing and automatic log out function after a set amount of inactivity. The app could also have a separate fingerprint pass-code required every time it is accessed.

Thank you

© All Copyrights Reserved by Hui Xu

Google Design Challenge A Conceptual Name and Face Matching App for Educators