Before diving in, I wanted to give a big shoutout to the team that helped every step of the way. Thank you for making the designs ✨✨
Monthly.com and each subsequent class landing page sees hundreds of thousands of unique visits per month. For the first year and a half of Monthly's life, there was very little growth design work that challenged our existing understanding of how prospective students perceived our classes at our front door. We had some basic understanding of behaviors through Google Analytics, but nothing that provided qualitative insights into some of the biggest questions that would help increase prospective students' confidence in purchase decision. Some of the key questions we had we're:
- What are the current misconceptions about how Monthly's learning experience works that detract from a prospective student's confidence to enroll?
- What things about Monthly are unclear, or uncertain, in a way that creates hesitation for prospective students?
- What things about Monthly classes are true, and create hesitation for our students? How might we be able to quell these fears/hesitations and build up their confidence?
- What things are working to build trust that we should continue to elevate?
With these questions in mind, we set out to better understand what prospective students saw by conducting moderated user interviews.
As the design lead, I worked together with our Lead UXR, Taylor, to develop a research guide that would helped provide insights for a set of actionable hypotheses. From there, I led the redesign of our class landing pages, ultimately leading to a 39% increase in revenue per visitor against the control variation.
Research strategy & developing foundational insights
As previously mentioned, our primary research question was to better understand how we might help prospective students feel happy and confident in their decision about purchasing a Monthly class. To help best facilitate the research question, we developed a few goals that we built our discussion guide around:
- Identify pain points and misaligned expectations of prospective students as they make a decision about Monthly & Monthly Plus; to understand their mental model and how well it matches what is being offered in the subscription or single-class offering.
- Understand what in the design or flow leads to decreased confidence in our prospective students about Monthly & Monthly Plus; to understand why they feel that way (motivations, concerns, contingencies, contexts, etc.)
- Evaluate the usability of the site and prototype during their purchase journey; to understand how easily and intuitively students can evaluate the site, purchase a class, decide about Monthly Plus, and subscribe.
We conducted moderated user studies with 8 participants that had never seen or heard of Monthly before, but were all "very interested" in developing creative skills online, and we recruited through UserInterviews.
Below are a few key quotes we heard directly from the participants. The interview synthesis reel can be found here
"I have not been able to see that yet." [Whether classes are live or pre-recorded]
"Is it 20 people on a Zoom? It seems possible, but that could be really jumbled."
"Looks like there's 3 things on day 1, couple different things on different days. I was thinking it'd be on-demand videos, but the theory that you're getting live help makes it seems like they're live classes...which is confusing. If they're not live, it suggests I'm submitting homework to the instructor and they're giving feedback offline, which makes the benefit significantly lower since I'm not getting that realtime feedback."
"Where am I posting this? Is it a website where I can share my progress. Is it on Instagram? I don't want my Instagram followers seeing the weird stuff I'm doing." [On peer group mechanics]
On the landing pages, these insights emerged as driving down confidence and ease:
- Fitting it in my schedule: Students had difficulty determining if the class commitments worked for their schedule and if the balance of flexibility/accountability was right for them, and how the waitlist works.
- Misaligned expectations about mechanics: Students struggled to fully understand how the class worked, including peer groups and whether it is live. This was especially difficult for beginners, who felt less confidence about investing in something they don’t understand.
- Building comparative trust: Students built trust with the caliber of the class by seeing student results and instructor bios, but did not always build trust with Monthly in general and the price felt expensive compared to cheaper options like MasterClass.
- Scanning for a match: Students find depth of content to be important, however, struggled to navigate the large blocks of text to identify a clear match with their skill level, style, and content that they personally are into, at their particularly level
These insights helped us reframe our problem statement: How might we help students feel confident in how the unique mechanics at Monthly deliver better results and a better experience for them?
Before continuing, I wanted to give a big shoutout to Taylor, who led the research on this project. Thank you!!
Early design explorations
Without going into every iteration explored, I'll show a few of the paths not taken that touch upon the key How might we's explored, and why these modules didn't make what we ended up shipping.
Using "building comparative trust" as a foundational insight, here was an exploration around how we could literally show the 1 to 1 advantages Monthly has over other learning platforms. We ended up moving away from this because of how this felt rather out of place on the story we were trying to tell, and we felt that there were better ways to visually communicate how our class mechanics worked.
If we did want to pursue this at some point, something like this would probably make the most sense on our actual homepage.
Showing dates at first glance as first order information theoretically solves for the use need of "how does this class fit into my schedule". However, after internal discourse, we ended up deciding that selecting/thinking about dates before mentally committing to actually deciding to enroll might add too much friction, particularly at the hero section.
Instead, the lever that we used here was a countdown timer to drive conversion through the scarcity effect.
I hypothesized that by allowing people to actually "sample" the curriculum by getting a taste of an actual video that they'll watch in class, they're more likely to convert given that they've had a taste of the in class experience by way of the content. We ended up de-scoping this idea given the operational lift of coming up with which videos make the most sense for each respective class. You can see how this section became much simpler below.
Clearer, bolder messaging
The minimal hero really lets the class title and the instructor name speak for itself. A trailer autoplays, inviting prospective students to play the full thing to really immerse themselves in the production. We added a countdown timer given the time-bound nature of our enrollment periods, driving higher conversion rates as the countdown progresses.
The sub-hero summary section clearly calls out what you'll be doing alongside the instructor, as well as presenting the details of the class in a scannable format. We also added in some social proof next to the CTA to reinforce that this class has been taken by thousands of others in your same position.
A new kind of learning experience
Prospective students don't internalize why Monthly's approach to learning works so much better than other online classes (that are not commitment, cohort-based). This progression through the key mechanics of the student experience helps tell the story of how you'll experience Monthly from end to end, touching upon the "steps" that will take you through from start to finish. We've had hundreds of thousands of student projects submitted on Monthly, and by showcasing previous student work, we show you what's possible when you try our classes.
Learn from the best, the best way.
We redesigned the "what you'll be learning" section to be more concise, to allow for easier scannability based on the insight we found from user research. Additionally, our curriculum team used to toil over writing the content for each "skill card", which was a very high operational lift. This redesign also reduced the amount of content for our curriculum development team, ultimately leading to higher efficiency when launching new classes as well.
You're in good company
We know that social proof is one of the best levers out there, and at Monthly, our alumni absolutely rave about our classes. We took social proof one step further by elevating the diverse backgrounds of learners from around the world, showcasing the stories of people that transformed their creative endeavors through a combination of text and video testimonials.
Additionally, we included a section dedicated to showing other instructors on Monthly. Our hypothesis here was that maybe after reading through everything that this class isn't right for you, or that you've never heard of the instructor but you have heard of some of our other names, so by showing a few other top instructors at Monthly, we help you find the right class or show that Monthly only has the top instructors and practitioners teaching on the platform.
We measured the success of our landing page by running a series of A/B during off-enrollment and on-enrollment periods, looking at revenue per visitor as the primary metric, and account creation as a secondary metric (because most people actually don't purchase the first time they visit a landing page). The two variations were the existing landing page, and the new one above.
This was one of the first big swings we've taken with our landing page, and this result, while exciting, is only the beginning. Design never ends, and so we'll be continuing to optimize around the edges and readjusting the story we want to tell.