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NCEA Student app

New Zealand Qualifications Authority

Best finalist
Best Awards 2017

The NCEA Student App is a finalist in the Interactive Category.

Co-designed with students, the NCEA Student app brought much-needed clarity and control to their NCEA programmes.

For three years, NCEA is a student's singular focus at school. More than 200,000 high school students take part in NCEA each year. At the heart of the system is the New Zealand Qualifications Authority; NZQA collates student's NCEA marks, runs exams and awards certificates.

NCEA gives students almost unprecedented choice and flexibility, empowering them to make strategic decisions about where to focus their studies. But with this great power comes great complexity — keeping track of ‘where they are at’ and working out how their decisions will affect ‘where they end up’ is not straightforward.

Our approach put students at the heart of our design process. We recruited students directly into our design team, ensuring every decision made the student experience better. Three key criteria emerged: "make it personal, visual, and encouraging”.

"Personal" helped to tune out the noise and focus on what students truly needed in their pocket. We designed features so students could fit the app into their school life, including options to colour code subjects and add notes and reminders.

"Visual" proved to be a particular challenge as NCEA is driven by numbers and words. Our bright and breezy palette addressed this, supported by the distinctive navigation iconography. The most striking visual element was a refined graphing system that presented progress and goals at a glance — mitigating information overload.

"Encouraging" meant letting students set goals whilst rewarding success with a few warm fuzzies. Students were clear: don’t patronise us — so providing clear information, in just the right tone of voice, proved critical.

Ultimately NCEA Student balanced student expectations and the realities of the NCEA system. Most importantly, the app offered a reliable way for students to manage their own NCEA. Since it's release the app was been downloaded more than 54,000 times across Android and iOS and has already had two major releases — adding features demanded by students.

Note: In 2018 NZQA removed this App from the App Store and Google Play to reduce costs relating to App ownership, maintenance and improvements.

Development partner:



Native iOS and Android apps

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