Project Background

Canvas is not only a leader in the Learning management system market—it’s “The Learning Platform that Helps Great Education Happen” and also one of Northeastern’s next steps toward digital transformation through online teaching and learning. Initial research, and feedback from the Northeastern community, revealed that Canvas has the ability to support a university of Northeastern’s size and the needs of all of its campuses and learners


Digital Experience Designer

  • Conduct user research
  • Analyze research data
  • Recommend solutions


12 weeks


1 Designer

2 Research Assistant’s

The Challenge

As the pandemic hit, the university had to​ transition to Canvas a year earlier than planned. Many courses were moved to the Canvas Learning management system as a pilot version, faculty had to learn quickly how to set up the classes and course materials, and students had adapted to it, but students (our primary users ) faced many issues and faculty received a lot complaint emails about their course materials, assignments, etc.

Project Goals


Understand what is the experience of our users with Canvas


Understand difficulties are the users facing


Create a seamless, intuitive experience that is natural and easy for the student to navigate

User Research

We began our user research by sending out a survey to a large audience and then decided to conduct usability tests to better understand the frustrations and goals of the users with the application

Surveying 500 Users

Usability Tests

We wanted to understand what was the reason behind so many users mentioning that they were facing issues canvas. We conducted user testing, We tested five participants for an hour each which gave us first-hand insight into how students navigate and think about the application currently.

Research Insights

We categorized our research insights into two categories, prioritizing issues that need immediate attention as Primary and Secondary issues.

Primary Issues

Lack of knowledge about Canvas

Lack of Hierarchy

File-sharing problems

A lot of students mentioned that their instructors didn’t post the content in the expected locations. They mentioned instructors should learn more about Canvas and how to organize content within it

All of the content is styled and presented similarly, so much that students have a difficult time finding assignments, announcements, and updates

Students are facing difficulty in finding files and sharing media on Canvas.

Secondary Issues

Unsupported Browsers

Inept Preview mode

Users were not able to access all features of Canvas on different browsers like Safari and Lockdown browsers

The preview mode for submitted files was really small and when users maximize it goes full screen, users did not like this and they mentioned it was better on the blackboard

Design Recommendations

Card Sorting and Information Architecture

Wireframes and Prototypes

Results & Impact

We tested the wireframes with 5 users,  users were truly happy about the experience, they mentioned they are more likely to use the application if the template was used. 


Increase in findability of course content 


are satisfied with the new template


mentioned the experiences is smoother and better