Remember faces and names

My role: Interaction designer

Project: Android experience to remember names

This is a personal research project. 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. Is there a way to help educators match faces to names, with the goal of shortening the time needed to reach complete un-aided accuracy?

Research  Find information about the users

I started out with some brainstorming to explore the topic and opportunities for research of the design exercise and gather my initial thoughts.

I decided to start with a research to receive creative inputs that allowed me to build possibilities for design, however it doesn't have any statistical value.

First part of the research: Useful to getting to know the teachers in terms of building profiles, understand why they don't remember names of students, pain points and how they currently solve this problem. My aim was to collect info and to create teachers profile with their motivations, frustrations and interactions.

Second part of the research: Identify how they spend the first day/week at school with new students, learning activities they do and understanding the on boarding process.

How I did the first part of the research: Mapping the set of teachers needs and create an empathy map (qualitative) Mapping the set of teachers techniques that they use to solve the problem (quantitative)

Who I interviewed

66 primary school teachers took part in a survey online (From America to New Zealand, Europe, India..)

I started to collected all the results, populated post its and I put on the wall everything that stood out from their responses to create some patterns: direct quotes, anecdotes etc.

Empathy map Based on the insights I've then created an empathy map to classify and to understand the teacher's mindset and their feeling.

From the survey I learnt that each teacher has some different and specific techniques to learn names. This surprised me a lot because I couldn't imagine all the constraints and the emotional involvement that a teacher has the initial first days within a new class.

In the following steps I analyse (with some teacher words) their techniques, their constraints making some assumptions that eventually will help us to build opportunities for design.

1.a Association: Personality association (24 teachers) Teachers associate the name to something specific about the personality or physical characteristics Constraint and assumption: Matching a face with a name is a problem that teachers have at the beginning of the year when students often didn't have enough time to show something of their personality yet. Some of the teachers remember what clothes students wear that day but then have to remember each day and some students wear a school uniform.

1.b Association: Pictures association (24 teachers) Association between names and pictures Constraint and assumption: The schools don't always give pictures of their students. Some schools from the surveys like in India or South of Italy don't have tech equipment to take pictures, print them or to store in a database. Some teachers that had a class roll with pictures also said that " They looked different from their pics". Teachers often need to take a picture with their personal smartphone and this appears not to be very convenient when they have more classes. More important: this will raise constraints also from a privacy point of view.

2. Games: Name games, Rhymes, Nicknames (14 teachers) Playing names games or giving students nicknames Constraint and assumption: Teachers often don't have time to spend, organise, plan games to remember names. Some teachers have 300 students in a week and they need to spend lots of time inventing a game or researching nicknames with just the scope of remembering students names.

3. Location: Assigning seats, Drawing a sitting map (13 teachers) Assigning seats to always have students in the same area with, so it helps remember names by remembering where students sit or drawing a sitting map Constraint and assumption: This will help for sure but if the class disposition will change it will create confusion. Some teachers draw manually a sitting map to have at home and to remember where the students sit. 😦

4. Physical solutions: Plaques on their desks, Wearing a tags for the first weeks (13 teachers) Put name plaque on the students's desk or wearing a tag for the first weeks Constraint and assumption: Like a teacher said: "Plaques eventually fall off or get destroyed". Wearing a tag is not very convenient because the assumption here is that parents need to remember to attach a tag everyday for the first weeks and it is not handy because kids can lose it easily.

How do teachers spend the first days with new students at school?

I asked some questions to understand what they do the first day at school and the induction process for new pupils.


During the first day apart from going over procedures, teachers get to know the kids names through social activities, making friends, focus on creating a positive environment.

Assumption: One of the best and less invasive way for teachers to memorise names and faces is to associate the name/face to something regarding the personality or characteristic of the kid.

I want to focus my attention also to one the most important constrain: time. Teacher have little time to spend to organise games and social activities and often they need to plan these in advance. Another constrain is that schools are often not tech heavy so we have to consider this as a limitation/opportunity.

Opportunities for design

Keeping all the insights, assumptions and constrains in mind, I decided on the following mission statement: Help teachers to spend a little amount of time to learn kids names and faces.

I'll focus on these main areas:

  • Help teachers to plan and learn something from the kid that allows them to associate the names to their faces in a specific time
  • Help teachers to maximise time while and before this process


The concept is to create an app that works like a generator of games generated based on some user inputs like size of the classroom, age of the kids, time and tools available and other parameters.

Instead of planning them in advance, thanks to a list of on boarding questions the app will provide to the teachers a list of games that playing with the class allow them to memorise the names in a certain amount of time. Teacher then can rate the game and share it with other teachers: the app also keeps track of the games that you've done in the past in that specific class and this feature is particularly useful for teachers with more than a class.

Sketches and wireframes

I've started to create some sketches on paper, after a couple of paper iterations I had the general concept ready and I switched to Sketch to create more detailed mocks.

Final result of the user flow after some of iterations in Sketch:

On boarding

The on boarding allows teachers to decide what they wants to learn or to teach to the students. Our MVP will focus on faces and names but this could be extended to other learning activities.

The questionnaire in the on boarding is based on questions regarding to:

  • Size of the class
  • Age of students
  • Available time
  • Location (indoor/outdoor)
  • Available tools

User can skip the question clicking on the arrow on the right or going back clicking on the arrow on the left. Because there are few screens, the dots will help users to understand where they are.

Explore page

Skipping the first screen on the on boarding user will go straight to the Explore section where there will be random games, activities, and exercises.

For the MVP the section won’t have any filters, however in the following iterations we could potentially add filters to filter by type of games, category and ratings.

We could also track users that’ve skipped the on boarding process showing them a card asking to answer to some questions in order to get more personalised results.

Result and Games page

The Result page will show games that are a tailored to the teacher/students based on the criteria selected during the on boarding.

In this case it will show the games to learn names and faces, tailored to a class of 1>10 students, 5–7 years old, with a time limit of 5–15 mins, indoor with only pens and paper.

The rating is important to understand the quality of the game; it will be always visible and it shows the % of teachers that liked the game.

The game page gives to the user all the instructions to play the game. Once completed, user can add the game to their game played list. This will allow them to keep track of the games already played with a specific class.

I’ve decided to use the volume-up icon in the FAB and user can listen to the instructions instead of reading them.

Bottom navigation

I opted for bottom navigation with 3 sections:

  • Your classes
  • Explore
  • Profile Your classes section is where user can find all the classes created. In this section they can view the activities/games for each class and create a new class. Clicking on a class there’ll be a list of games played before and user can add new games to play following the same criteria of the on boarding.

In the Explore section there will be random games, activities, and exercises.

Profile section allows user to create an account/sign in (Commenting, view comments, view teachers profiles, follow other teachers and see their activities).

Next steps

User testing:

At this point would be useful to test a prototype. Because I didn’t have enough time to proceed with user testing it would be useful to test the idea with some teachers and to prioritise features.

It is important to collect info based on the following questions:

What it failed, suggestions for improvement and what needs future investigations What people value the most and what convinced them of the idea After this stage we could make a roadmap, gather the key stakeholders in the project, and establish key milestones.

Google integration

There are some Google services a product like this could be integrated into. Think for example of Google Classroom, where there could be a section with games, activities, and exercises to help the teachers not only to have an easy technique to associate faces and names but also to build unity, teamwork, community, and improved group dynamics with a product tailored to their students.