Socializing the college application process

User Research
Digital Product Strategy
Product Design
Rapid Prototyping
Microinteraction Animation

The challenge

Noodle was setting out to build a platform to support students during the college application process, making educational information and advisors accessible to everyone. They partnered with RocketAir as one of our first clients to turn that vision into a reality. 

The journey to finding and getting into the right school is long and complex. Students are researching and comparing options, getting advice from multiple sources—guidance counselors, parents, friends, experts on the internet—and managing various tasks along the way. Just like  people use digital products to moodboard their new house or plan their weddings, we saw this as another major life moment that needed a modern platform to bring everything together in one place.


We started by getting into the mindset of a college applicant and understanding all of the players involved in the journey. Working directly with edtech pioneer and Noodle founder John Katzman, we conducted user research, ran discovery workshops, and created user personas to  design a user experience that successfully augments users to help them find the right fit.


Taking a design-first approach, we helped Noodle create an edtech product that’s rich in functionality, intuitive to use, and puts the student at the center of the college application process. We worked closely with the executive and engineering teams to hand off a design system with custom iconography and unique art direction.


The core functionality of the product is essentially a giant recommendation engine, and we designed an experience that surfaces relevant content in a really intuitive way. Every user’s home screen is an AI-powered Feed of curated content—from school profiles to suggested articles—that’s customized especially for them based on their saved searches.

We also created Smart Articles: dynamic editorial posts published by an expert behind the Noodle platform and AI-driven to package personalized information for users.


The college search experience is inherently collaborative and social. So we brought social networking features to the platform to help facilitate those interactions. Through a Chat interface, students can connect with advisors to guide them along their journey.  We also created a Groups feature to bring communities together around specific topics.


There are many milestones along the way, whether that’s test days, campus tours, or application deadlines. We created a project management experience to help users manage all of the tasks involved right there in the platform.
When we set out to create a product that makes educational information accessible for everyone, RocketAir was an indispensable partner. Their advocacy for a design-first approach empowered us to turn our vision into a reality and create the best possible user experience for prospective students. Working hand-in-hand with our executives and engineers, it could not have been a more seamless process—they truly felt like part of our team.