Cornelsen was stuck in the past, focusing on analog learning material.

Our goal was to modernize our existing pedagogic knowledge and use it to create a “first-time” reading app which closed the gap where competitors were lacking. I was tasked to conceptualize a responsive web app which could be directly implemented in primary schools across Germany.

Client: Cornelsen GmbH
Website: cornelsen.de


Leseo contains the following features:

An analytics tool for teachers to be able to provide the ultimate support to their students.

A library with 5 reading levels for differentiation.

A children’s app including an e-book with practical reading tools for first-time readers.

Different types of tasks to help students reinforce what they have learned.

An administrative area with tools to edit rights and get a good overview of a school.


– Creating a product for users who can’t read or are technologically limited

– Developing a design system which still retains the‭ 70 year old ‬Cornelsen ‬look‭ & ‬feel

– Allowing teachers to see and understand their students’ learning journey

– Co-creating an intrinsic motivational concept

– Conceptualizing high level‭, ‬intricate features

– Understanding the inner workings of the German school system

– Considering a moral obligation of how to protect sensitive data

– Working with internal and external colleagues of many diverse backgrounds

– Learning what research methods to use at certain points of the product lifecycle


No matter the project, I am the type of person to analyze the bigger picture before I dive in. I am a strategic designer who prioritizes time constantly.

This is why I am a firm believer in lean UX, creating products in an agile manner, and working smart. We did not have much time to create an MVP with Leseo and I was able to work with my team to create a fully fledged product which was ready for the market in under 6 months’ time.

Because I design using the agile methodology I am accustomed to present my work often to my team. I am able to create high level roadmaps which bridge the gap between user needs, stakeholder requirements, and technical specifications.

Another major part of my process are workshops. I believe that the best way to gain ideas aside from user feedback is to draw feedback from the whole team. It is this holistic process which allows us as designers to generate the best solution in the shortest time. This is a step-by-step plan I created for our motivational concept:

Last but certainly not least, a very important part of my approach is organization. I make sure to decide a way of working with the team and always maintain a high level of organization. I am a big fan of design systems which create simplicity in a high paced environment.


Working at an established company allowed me the tools and knowledge to understand potential users at a higher level. These personas were backed with actual data.

Research & Testing

I was able to complete research and testing with my target users often. This is a priority for me in order to better understand the reasoning behind my work.

When I was not able to test directly with potential or existing users, I would either do hallway testing with coworkers or have sparring sessions with other designers.

There were different methods we used in the entirety of the process. We did many comparative analyses, contextual inquiries, diary studies, focus groups, usability testing, surveys, and tracking within the app.

One of my favorite initiatives to have organized is User Feedback Day.

User Feedback Day is a way for Cornelsen to test features every week. We would plan tests and coordinate testers and observers in order to hold week-long workshops to solve problems in an agile manner.

It was great to be able to test a feature before production and also to hear feedback from observers within the company. I was surprised that my intuition was correct 95% of the time. I did not expect this since I felt that I was still acclimating and learning about the German culture and school system. This led me to the conclusion that intuition can be universal if you are able to really listen your users and stay open to critique.

Co-Creation & Motivation

A big part of my goal as a designer is always to add a bit of a ✨magical✨ spark within my creations. I needed this to translate into awe and enchantment on tiny faces. I worked with great minds from elementary school leaders, illustrator Nadine Roßa, pedagogical experts, and genius colleagues in order to develop a creative concept which could intrinsically motivate students to use the app.

I can safely say, I have never had as much fun as our monster co-creation workshop which taught us so much about how the children wanted to learn and be guided by their monsters.

Of course, it was a process to get it exactly right, but in the end we were able to create a memorable brand with a strong but subtle gamification which was welcomed with open arms in schools all over Germany.


A big learning for me in this project was the ability to rapidly sketch solutions. This is an example where I rapidly sketched an imperfect and incomplete solution of a student detail page within a sprint planning meeting and then was able to digitally iterate on that idea further.

I believe it doesn’t have to be perfect on the first go, but a quick brainstorm on paper can help you understand what you are building and how it could work.

My initial goal is always to create products which work. A user should be able to navigate a product simply and without any cognitive load. Especially as someone with a neurodivergent background, this is so important to me! The visual design is always secondary because the framework is the basis for use.

After being certain that the basis of the concept was perfected as much as possible in preparation for launch, I worked with Cornelsen corporate branding and marketing to create and/or oversee the creation of everything from the design system, logo, monsters, illustrations, book covers, visual design of the app, marketing materials, and design of any material relating to the app.

Everything had to fit the look and feel of an old-fashioned company founded in 1946. My goal was to find a modern way to fit a traditional paradigm. I coordinated with designers from other Cornelsen products in order to create a UI kit which they could also use for their primary school products. I also collaborated in the redesign of the main Cornelsen website.


I created an app for primary schools in Germany which:

– Helps children learn to read

– Intrinsically motivates children

– Supports teachers in their evaluation of reading skills

– Allows administrators to manage teachers and students

Leseo was shortlisted for the Best European Learning Materials Awards in 2019, Schulbuch des Jahres (Schoolbook of the year), and Innovationspreis für digitale Bildung delina (Innovation prize for digital learning).

Although we did not design mobile-first in order to quickly deliver an MVP, I still found positive ways to deliver a mobile-last product which was intuitive. I was able to analyze use cases and prioritize user needs.


Designing for children is extremely challenging yet very rewarding

– Taking a didactic approach and carefully considering every aspect of a product to ensure that teachers respect it and view it as a learning tool, not just a game, is a balancing act

– The German market is a special bubble and in order to create for any country you should always immerse yourself in the conceptualization stage

Co-creation of monsters with primary school students is my favorite work-related experience ever

Compromise is important if you ever want to reach your goals

– Sometimes it needs to be done quicker than you can perfect it

– As designers, we are our own worst critics

– Start small and increase slowly in complexity, ensure that every aspect is reviewed and tested by the target audience.

– Always create a rapid prototype or sketch to review with development and test for plausibility.

Communicate every step of the way and don’t leave any team member in the dark.

– Even small assumptions can come back to haunt you.

Thanks for reading!