Michael Annor’s Portfolio

Exam Preparation for Busy Professionals

This was a freelance project for a client who wanted to develop a platform to enable working adults skill-up by adequately preparing for different certifications. The concentration at the launch phase was on the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification.


Porta Prep Ltd.


Product Designer


July 2018 - September 2018


For me, it was important to get this right because many working professionals in Ghana earn below their true earning potentials for various reasons, and I believe navigating career changes was one way to get ahead.

Once the concept of the application was shared with me, I spent time speaking to a number of young professionals who were working towards a career pivot. Notably, I learned there were typically two options they considered: a part-time, after-work masters program (e.g an MBA) and a certification course (e.g. ACCA, etc.). Both options were expensive and intensive, and would require late night schooling, through the hectic traffic jams in the city.

These experiences led us to focus on emphasizing accessibility and convenience in the tools we provided these professionals. As a result, the very first version was to be on mobile.

Screens from Test Prep App

  Above is a set of screens from the Porta Prep mobile app design.

Key Challenges

1. Too Much to Learn, Too Little Time:

The learners we targeted have full-time jobs and are working on preparing for these exams in their spare time. To excel, they will have to cover a very broad pool of exercises. A few of these would get access to heavy test prep books. However many more shared PDF versions of these books with their friends, and would read through whenever they could. With these insights, we sought to understand how we could learn from the way text books and flash cards are used, to design solutions that are effective and time efficient. Through ideation, we decided to introduce a practice mode- a variant of the regular tests, that will be free-to access, will not be timed, and will give explanations after attempting each question. In addition, we provided users with options to select interested topics and the length of a session. A dilemma at this stage was whether to time-box a session using minutes or number of questions. The design we settled on used a set number of number of questions in order to eliminate the anxieties that come with taken a timed test from the practice mode. Also, explanations came right after each question instead of at the end of the session, so that a session can be interrupted (for example, at the end of a bus ride) with little to lose.

  Above is a video of the practice mode of the app showing questions and explanations.

2. Building Confidence by Visualising Progress:

The entire prep process becomes more stressful, when learners don't feel confident. When stress piles on, they fret and it shows in their work. In learning this, we asked "how might we reinforce a learner's confidence?". This led to designing reporting features that helped users to see a cumulative assessment of their performance. Metrics include average score, number of sessions taken and top-performing topics. For this feature, it will be interesting to see how users use it, and if the metrics provided are going to be useful to them. In addition, when a test is scored, we used copywriting and icons to boost confidence by providing encouragement and celebrations.

  Above is a video of a section of the Mock Test showing questions, answers, scoring and progress dashboard.

3. Continuous Practices and Reminders:

“Better to practice a little everyday than a lot at the last minute.”

We knew we needed to help users build habits around practice. Especially in understanding how busy the target users were, we considered counting practice streaks, but we feared, if we built motivation around streaks, once a long streak is lost, starting again is more difficult. I would have loved to test these assumptions out if the project had the budget. In its stead, we considered reminders through responsible push notifactions.

Last Words

In addition to the mobile app, we designed a web app for administrators to manage test content on the app. The most challenging thing about this project, was going from user research, ideating and prototyping to usability testing on a limited budget. Fortunately, I was able to access a network of professionals in similar contexts to work with.