The Social Express is an educational software title for PC, Mac, and iPad designed to help children with social learning disorders. The award-winning software has been included in the National Education Technology Plan 2016 – Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education published by the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.

I co-designed the user experience and designed the user interface layout and page flow. Additionally, I managed the project schedule, led the 20-person development team, and regularly communicated status reports to key stakeholders.

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The initial idea for The Social Express came from a father of twins with autism. Recognizing the lack of quality software for children with social learning disorders, I was hired to build a team and create the software with the help of a speech-language pathologist.

Since the father and speech-language pathologist didn’t have software development experience, planning The Social Express was itself an educational process as I proposed reasonable expectations given estimated scope, costs, and timeframes. After several meetings, a rough framework of the software began to take shape and we started to conceptualize the UX design and app flow.


The Social Express is based upon animated interactive lessons, presented in a Pixar-inspired art style, that encourage users to practice real-life social interactions. The app is designed to be used by a child with a teacher, parent, or guardian sitting alongside. With two people viewing the same screen at once, and because of the user’s special needs, tremendous importance was placed on providing clear direction and minimal distraction throughout the entire experience.

The flow of the app between lessons and menus was designed to be as frictionless as possible to avoid confusion and frustration. Focus was placed on providing an obvious progression from screen to screen and the ability to move through the interface without extensive backtracking. Lessons were split into groups that could easily be played in order and replayed individually as needed. Progress in the app is automatically saved and an achievement certificate is presented at the conclusion of each lesson group as a reward.


I created an html-based wireframe walkthrough that provided the team with a map of the software’s structure and flow. For our team members who were new to software development, this phase was particularly enlightening and informative. For those who were tasked with developing the user interface, the wireframes provided a helpful and precise blueprint to follow.


Throughout the production cycle, the app was routinely tested at our speech-language pathologist’s therapy clinic. The children and therapists at the clinic enthusiastically provided valuable feedback to our team and helped us verify that we were making good design and production decisions. Reviewers have praised The Social Express for its high quality and educational value and the app continues to be updated on a regular basis.