This project was a direct ask from the founders of the company and was one of the first projects that the newly-formed Activation team under the Output’s new Growth pillar (see Part I of this case study) was tasked with working on. The goal was to bring all of Output’s resources related to learning how to use Arcade to be accessible within the app instead of solely on external resources.
Scattered learning resources
One of the top support request items that Output would receive is not having easily accessible learning materials for using Arcade. At the time all of the learning resources available for Arcade were located outside of the app, either in the form of support articles in our knowledge base, or in the form of videos hosted on YouTube that were both produced by Output and not produced by Output.
The hunch was that if we were to bring all these educational resources for how to use Arcade into the app in an effective way, users, especially users in a 30-day trial, would be less likely to need to leave the app to learn how to do something in Arcade and would as a result, increase the chance of them retaining and converting into paid users.
My approach to tackle this was to begin gathering information on a few key questions that would help guide our approach and give us greater confidence in how we would bring all of this learning content into the app:
Understanding existing learning habits
How do people who are interested in making music currently learn new topics or techniques?
Understanding mental models for learning
Do people prefer a self-guided approach? Do people prefer watching videos, blog articles, or classroom settings?
How do products in a similar space handle this problem?
Are there things we can learn from competitors in the music tech space or outside the space? How do they surface and deliver their educational app content? What might we take away from these examples and what should we avoid?
What untapped opportunities exist?
Are there opportunities for providing learning resources for content outside of learning Arcade, more music theory for example?
We started our discovery process by observing how other products inside and outside of the music tech space were educating users around how to use their products. We learned that despite supporting external help content knowledge bases, they also provided educational content in-app that could be accessed easily from a menu. This led us to explore building some concepts that leveraged similar patterns that we noticed.
Talking to users & testing concepts
I conducted unmoderated interviews using UserTesting.com where we sought to better understand how general users of various skill levels approach learning. I decided not to screen out non-Output users since we would get a faster response time from Usertesting’s general network of testers. I also shared some interactive Figma prototype concept designs to gauge initial reactions to how Arcade support content might be surfaced in-app.
A mix of guided and self-guided learning
From the people we conducted research with, we learned that the majority of people preferred a mix of being guided while learning at their own pace. The majority of people we conducted research with explained that they would use a mix of Youtube and trial-and-error, going along until they got stuck and turning to YouTube for help in those moments. This quote sums up the feedback we heard:
I’m a visual learner, but I’m also an auditory learner. Listening to things and trying to replicate things is something that works for me. As a visual learner, having visuals that are easy to understand but also capture your attention are very important to me.
Desire for learning in-app
When presented with the option to consume learning content inside of an application versus learning through an external resource such as YouTube, most of the participants preferred the option to consume learning content within the app. In the case of YouTube, some users stated that they would get distracted by other tangentially related videos and lose track of what they were originally trying to learn. They felt like keeping the learning in-app would help them stay on track.
An appetite for broader music-related topics beyond Arcade
Through our initial round of unmoderated user research, paired with our survey questions and prototype concept, we learned that almost all recipients were receptive to the idea of learning content related to Arcade. In follow up research which we tested with Arcade users, we heard similar sentiments. For example, the concept of master classes from key producers demonstrating how to accomplish music theory techniques in Arcade was something that resonated with users.
Prototyping with insights
We were able to use the insights we gathered from our multiple rounds of unmoderated interviews and concept testing to build some variations of our v1 of what a dedicated surface area inside of Arcade devoted to learning content might look like. We were also able to start work on some early concepts related to a more guided onboarding experience, which we pivoted over to full-time immediately after this project.
Towards the end of the project, I was asked to help with a totally different project. The team that was staffed after I moved however, was able to pick up where I left off and was able to accomplish these key outcomes:
A redesigned Learn page launched
Later on in the year after the Activation team was fully staffed, they went on to use the concepts and insights we learned to build a V1 of a new Learning surface area within the Arcade app which resulted in a greater engagement among Arcade users.
Towards the end of this project I was asked to pivot to a new project with similar goals where we needed to address improving Output’s onboarding flow. We were able to utilize learnings from this project that directly informed our approach to addressing onboarding (see the case study for Guided Onboarding)
What could I have done differently? Better?
Mix in more research methods
While unmoderated interviews provided useful data, in an ideal world I would have supplemented our research plan with additional methods such as moderated interviews or larger quant surveys to dive deeper into how they prefer to learn.
Moderated interviews and testing
While the unmoderated testing we conducted provided us with useful insights that helped give us confidence in our approach, in an ideal world this project would have benefited even more from moderated interviews and some hands on time from either a hi-fidelity prototype or a working test build