April 15 - Present
UXTree is an education platform where designers teach each other.
With technology progressing at a rapid pace, designers are expected to know more and more. UXTree was born out of the need for designers to learn the latest tools, techniques, and platforms to keep their skills up to date.
I decided to create a platform where designers building digital products could teach each other what they are already good at. To make sure that the quality is high, I designed a 'teaching method', and a few courses for the site.
In 6 months, we've taught over 2000+ employees, founders, and freelance designers. These sessions were both online and in-person. We were featured on ProductHunt, Designer News, and a number of other publications, and plan on expanding the site soon.
Defining the Problem & Research
As a full-time designer, I noticed a big problem was that more and more was being asked of product designers, due to the pace at which technology was moving.
For example, we could design for the web and mobile devices, but what about wearables? Some of us were great visual designers, but can you quickly throw in some motion and microinteractions using After Effects? Sure, we could design in 2d space, but what about designing in 3d for virtual reality?
I interviewed fellow designers at other companies, from large companies like Google, to small design shops and startups. I learned that they all felt a similar frustration. The larger companies often had internal continuing education for designers–some sort of internal "university" week, where fellow designers would teach each other skills that they specialized in. Others were often piecing together new skills from scattered tutorials online.
I decided to extend the "designers-teaching-designers" model to a worldwide scale, where everyone, regardless of what company they were in, could continually improve their design skills. This was the birth of UXTree.
Designing the Platform
The technical implementation and design of the platform was fairly simple. Originally I was building the platform from scratch, but somewhere along the road found a platform called Fedora, which was being created by Ankur Nagpal. Fedora was a platform that allowed me to create, host, and courses without needing to delve too deeply into code.
I made some minor edits to the visuals and aesthetics. However, my main focus was not on designing the actual website, but to instead design the actual courses. My goal was to make sure that the user experience for the courses was something that was pleasant and intuitive, and catered to the needs of my target audience: visual learners.
Creating the syllabus for iOS Prototyping course.
Since I had never designed a course before, I based the first one off of some limited research into teaching, competitive analyses, and my own intuition.
With each completed course, I learned a great deal about my target audience by measuring the analytics of that course. For example: what was the completion rate? Where were users dropping off? Which courses did the users have most interest in?
Measuring course completion over time.
Some of this insight included that users were more inclined to finish the course if the lessons were divided in to small chunks, about 3-7 minutes each. Any longer and the students often taper off. I also learned to do a project-based learning system–since designers needed to implement these skills in to the real world, I tried to minimize the amount of abstract teaching.
In the past few months, over 2000+ students are enrolled in courses and are currently self-teaching themselves a variety of new design skills. Employees from companies like Google, Yelp, Spotify, Wells Fargo, and Huge are active users. It was also featured on Product Hunt, Designer News, and Smashing Magazine, bringing in loads of new users.
Vision, plans, and what is coming
The whole project is a work in progress, and the past few months were full of learning, insight, and data that will help inform the future of the website.
The past few months my goals were two fold: create a community of designers, and create a valuable brand. I've also conducted surveys on my target audience, measured the analytics.
In the next few months I plan to recruit instructors that have expressed interest in teaching their design specialty. This will help scale the course catalog and accelrate community growth. The idea is to also eventually become the default place where product designers come to learn new skills. We will have weekly workshops online, in-person training at companies, and large, in-depth, courses. The future is looking bright!