Connecting Staff, Children and Parents at Nursery

Nursery Story· 2019 · 3 month project · Product designer


Nursery Story is an app for Nursery Staff and Parents. It enables parents to communicate and plan with the Nursery and keep track of their child’s learning progress.

I was brought onto Nursery Story post-release to help design their most requested features from their first users, starting with a messaging feature and following soon after with a register feature that allowed parents and teachers to check children in.

It was great having access to Nursery staff to review designs and understand their requirements. Nurseries have to manage for the constantly evolving configuration of staff and children at the Nursery, while aligning with safety and regulatory guidelines.


The messaging feature connected parents to the Nursery Staff directly. There were a lot of concerns from Nursery Staff that they would get overwhelmed trying to stay on top of all these conversations, or a staff member might miss something important regarding one of the children.

After exploring design solutions with staff members, we settled on creating a ‘team’ for each child, so that all staff members could stay on top of communicating. Each room clearly named the people involved and their relationship to the child, along with quick-respond messages so staff could communicate rapidly.


Nurseries are legally required to record when each child is in. We designed the feature so that Nurseries could either have parents check their child in, or they could manage it all themselves on the register.

Parents could either check their child in on their phone or scan a QR code at the Nursery entrance. The check in feature enabled parents to tell the Nursery if their child was ill or not available to come in, as well as input any ‘important information’ input that populated the Register so teachers would see anything important regarding the child that day.

Attendance Planning

Attendance planning at a Nursery is a surprisingly complex design problem; it needs to consider each child’s unique Nursery schedule (Full Day, AM or PM?), with multiple rooms at a Nursery and legal requirements regarding the qualifications of the staff and the ratio of the number of staff to children.

It therefore affects almost every other part of the UX, from the register to the way you book children in to the way you manage staff.

We started by looking at a number of competitors to figure out their advantages and weaknesses, compiling the issues with our current design, and then ideating on core needs for each of these areas of our app.

Register Design 1: Skeuomorphic

The initial design for the register was based on a paper register with columns for each piece of information. Simple and easy to understand, but not particularly well optimised for digital; through prototype testing we found it hard to scan and not flexible enough to enable more functionality. We needed a UX that could also account for different schedules, children coming in and out, moving children around and showing what staff were due in.

Register Design 4: Contextual action bar

After a number of iterations we settled on a more digitally native design that had contextual actions for each child based on whether they were checkin in or not. The day overview also allowed for a high level view of when the day would be busiest and how many staff would be needed.

Outcome & Reflection

Nursery Story was a great project because the UX problems were closely tied to very tangible, real, complex problems that could be studied and optimised for. Each iteration of a design revealed new requirements when put in front of a Nursery Story staff member that I would not have even conceptualised. The result was a very satisfying iteration cycle.
Index of Work