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Lead Product Designer

USAFull-Time$140K - $160K
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CommonLit is a nonprofit EdTech organization dedicated to providing high-quality literacy instruction to low-income students and students of color to prepare them for success in college and careers. We operate a free online reading and writing program, www.commonlit.org, that is used by millions of teachers and students worldwide each month. We are a quickly growing team of passionate professionals - many of whom are former teachers. Our team is now over 100 full-time employees spread across ~30 states.

As a Lead Product Designer, you’ll take the lead designing journeys, flows, interactions, and user interfaces for millions of students and their teachers as part of our digitally-delivered literacy program. You’ll collaborate with other designers and in revolving product triads that include product managers and engineers. You’ll also collaborate and proactively build partnerships with many teams across the organization (Curriculum, Data, User Research, and Partnerships) to understand user/customer needs and business priorities, develop and test prototypes, design wireframes and mockups, and support engineers and product managers throughout development.

At this time, we’re looking to amplify the strengths of our team. While we expect Product Designers to be well rounded, we’re anticipating filling one role with a team member who leads confidently in strategic UX (journeys, flows, service design, architecture, interactions, and conceptual design) and another who leads confidently in superior UI design. UX writing skills are a plus. We’re a close and collaborative team, so designers will work together and lean on each others’ skill sets.

CommonLit’s product development is driven by our product vision, organizational strategy, user research, data, feedback from teachers, and partnerships with schools and districts across the country. We’re designing and mapping the end-to-end experience, and we build in small iterations using an empowered version of the Shape Up development process. We’re building an application that’s used by students and teachers across a broad range of technology and connectivity access, and we take accessibility seriously. The ideal candidate is a motivated, cross-functional team leader who is committed to our mission and excited to work for a fast-paced nonprofit startup.


Product Design

* Collaboratively lead the redesign and enhancement of the interface and experience of CommonLit: design new interaction models, new information architectures, and new interface components that are in alignment with the larger product vision.

* Design and oversee enhancements and new features that fit within the larger experience and flows.

* Distill simplicity from complex user requirements.

* Ensure that designs are technically feasible within the project scope, performant, consistent with CommonLit’s style guide, and user-friendly.

* Manage all design stages, from concept to visual design and specifications and through launch.

* Oversee and manage designs for multiple projects simultaneously.

Cross-Functional Collaboration and Business Acumen

* Collaborate with Product Managers and Engineers to iterate on and refine the existing experience.

* Articulate the why behind all design decisions, pointing to customer needs, business objectives, heuristics from cognitive and behavioral sciences, and other sound research.

* Clearly articulate and advocate for key design needs to the design team, product management organization, director of design, and senior leadership.

* Facilitate stakeholder discussions, and map end-to-end customer and user experiences.

* Work closely with UX Researchers to deeply understand users/customers and their needs and ensure that all designs solve for user/customer problems.

*Define and contribute to research initiatives (usability tests, surveys, interviews, and so on) alongside UX Researchers and Product Managers.

Design Deliverables and Ops

* Create and guide the creation of deliverables (wireframes, mockups, prototypes, flows, and so on) to communicate ideas.

* Advocate and enforce design guidelines, best practices and standards.

* Translate designs to style guides and oversee this process.

* Exhibit a comprehensive understanding of design systems theory and practice.

EdTech Product Knowledge

* Develop a deep understanding of CommonLit (for example, lesson types, products, assessments, integrations).

* Develop a deep understanding of EdTech for learning; be able to articulate best practices for the interaction design of learning and teaching products.

Team and Culture Development

* Stay informed and share the latest on UI/UX techniques, tools, and patterns.

* Coach junior team members in UX skills, usability heuristics, and business concepts.

* Participate in team-building and cross-training moments, such as lunch-and-learns and team retreats.


  • 6+ years experience in product design, user experience, interaction design, or user interface design, with demonstrated experience designing responsive software or SaaS products (edtech experience highly valued)
  • Expert knowledge of information architecture, usability, and UX/UI best practices for both mobile responsive and desktop applications
  • Proficient understanding of functions you’ll work closely with, e.g. frontend and backend engineering, product management, user research, marketing
  • Ability to communicate design needs clearly and confidently to leadership and other stakeholders, and unite a team around design strategy and processesAn advocate for accessible design practices and ADA requirements
  • Experience working with UX researchers/UX research methods to deeply understand, empathize with, and advocate for end-users
  • Experience conducting prototype and usability testing
  • Experience leading design sprints and working with PMs, engineers, and UX researchers to solve user and business problems
  • Superior design eye and ability to design within a consistent style/brand guide
  • Ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously
  • Expertise working in Figma and in wireframing tools like Balsamiq or Whimsical
  • A portfolio with 3-6 case studies that clearly demonstrate how you worked on a team to solve a problem for end-users and the design processes you used. We will be looking for case studies showcasing complex software design or redesign; close collaboration with engineers and product managers through workshops, sketching sessions, research or other methods; technical and business acumen; and design system development.
  • Authorization to work in the U.S. without employer sponsorship

  • The following skills are appreciated and should be highlighted in your application questions:
  • Experience working in/with communities of colorEdTech or learning design experience
  • Previous people management or team lead experience
  • Knowledge of front-end development web programming languages such as HTML and CSS, JQuery, and JavaScript

Compensation: $140,000 - $160,000 annually

CommonLit is committed to fostering a positive company culture, promoting work-life balance, and supporting employees through life’s changes. We provide the following benefits:

* Health, Dental, and Vision Insurance

* Free telehealth services for all full time employees, from day 1 of employment

* 401(k) retirement plan, with a 4% safe harbor employer match

* Pre-tax commuter benefits for employees based in the D.C. metropolitan area

* Remote home office set-up stipend

* Generous time off including 15 holidays a year, paid time off, 12 weeks of paid parental leave, volunteering and school visitation leave, jury duty leave, and bereavement and compassionate leave. Additionally, we offer 3 hours per month for small necessities leave and flexible work options.

We are a remote-first company, and have employees in 28 states and Washington, D.C. In keeping with our efforts to create a collaborative and constructive workplace, even in a remote environment, we offer many staff engagement opportunities throughout the year. These include monthly remote activities (ie. dumpling making, yoga), a yearly all-staff retreat, and more!

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