My Thoughts On Improving Udacity Mobile App

Udacity.com

Recently, I’ve started conducting case studies and researches for products I personally use and love. This is interesting and beneficial activity that I think helps me in three ways. First, it is always interesting to get deeper into product details and think how you would solve their problems. Second, it helps me to improve myself and grow in terms of being better Product Manager. Last but not least, I send my case studies to these teams hoping I contribute my efforts in order to make products better.

This analysis is about Udacity mobile app.

I am not related to Udacity in any way. This research is done by me voluntarily to find out how Udacity mobile app can be improved.


I am using Udacity app and find it extremely useful and beneficial. Content is great, so I want to enroll in almost every course. I know that Udacity is a desktop first, however, clients who use both desktop and mobile are less likely to leave. Thus said, mobile is important for Udacity. Taking into account facts above and my experience which is mostly in mobile, I’ve decided to make this small project.

Udacity’s mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world.

Courses in Udacity are easily accessible, a lot of them are free and Nanodegree programs are far more affordable than tuition fees in traditional universities. Moreover, leading experts and companies participating in courses provide very effective and engaging content.

Taking into account that tremendous works is being done in all aspects of Udacity’s mission, I want to focus on aspects that I can contribute to. So, my aim here is to propose design improvements and features that can bring user re-engagement. I believe that re-engagement is important for Udacity, its mission and students to built a habit of lifelong education process.


Suggestions

1. Subtitles in video

I’ve read reviews in Google Play, and found that a lot of students requests this feature (that’s why we start with this suggestion). I’ve also found that Udacity recommends to turn subtitles on in YouTube player, which is not convenient (I couldn’t turn subtitles on as well).

Probably there are some technical restrictions that prevent Udacity to implement this feature. I believe that solving this problem will be a great help for international students as well as it is aligned with Udacity’s mission to give accessible education.

Turn on/off subtitles button as in YouTube app

2. Continue from where you stopped

I assume, that people are most likely using Udacity mobile app on the go, when travel, taking bus/train and etc. Hence, students can often close and launch app again. Currently it is very difficult to come back and find the moment you stopped at. Below is my suggestion how it might look like in order to meet this user need.

User taps on the field at the bottom and starts watching the video from the moment where she left

3. Progress bar for video

Below is how list of videos in course look like. It is a bit confusing to understand which video was played till the end and which wasn’t.

Green checkmark on the left indicates which video had been opened before

My suggestion is to implement progress bar, so it can look something like on the following screen.

Checkmark appears only if the whole video watched

Progress bar solves two problems:

  • student can come back and finish watching videos that were intentionally skipped before by some reason
  • student can easily identify last video that she didn’t finish watching

4. Ambiguity with video download button

It is a cool feature that helped me to go through Product design course while going to San Francisco on Caltrain :) There is small ambiguity for users with the download button. Once video is downloaded, you can press that round button with the line and it will be changed to download button again. So, you might download video twice which is not a desired case. Easy fix is represented on the following screen.

Replaced with checkmark button and make it unclickable

5. Add video to favorites

This one is the easiest to propose. Nice and simple feature for coming back and watch videos you are interested the most.

Heart button in the top right corner
Heart button under the video for even better accessibility

User re-engagement

  1. Statistics and personalization.

I was using Treehouse desktop and mobile app when preparing for my coding bootcamp this summer. One thing that always made me come back and push forward was my personal statistics. I think it is a really cool feature for user re-engagement. Here is how it might look like in Udacity mobile app.

Some simple and useful statistics. Graph is great for tracking progress. Blue line is a suggested minimum points to get reached daily by student. Plus more personalized page with student’s photo.

On the one hand, blue line and minimum points to be reached can be in conflict with Udacity’s approach of letting students work on their own pace. On the other hand, it shows to students how much has been already invested, so they might prefer to stay and use Udacity longer, clearly seeing their time investment.

2. Reward system

Gained points can be turned into credits that will give discount for Nanodegree program. Reward system might encourage students to learn more and actually finish courses which is a goal both for Udacity and students. Lastly, most effective students will be involved in lifelong education process with subjects they choose themselves. It will be a great habit!

3. Give a challenge to solve

Hacker Rank is a very interesting example of this call-to-action factor. They constantly send emails encouraging users to come and solve technical problems. Some of my friends get hired in top e-commerce companies participating in these challenges.

I understand that Udacity don’t want to be that kind of platform where people are solving tasks. Udacity’s main focus is education, so notifications can be send individually to students encouraging them to finish particular course or take additional quiz/challenge to improve their skills.

Summary

In conclusion, Udacity is doing a great job democratizing education. I believe that a lot of students understand how effective the product is and don’t have problems with motivation to take and finish courses. However, features I’ve described above might help to decrease churn rate, increase re-engagement, let those who is less motivated actually finish courses and bring better user experience for all students.

Special thanks for reading draft of this post and giving feedback:

  • Paul Lopushinsky
  • Nick Ivanecky
  • Ilya Matvienko

Thanks for reading, feel free to response and press 💙 if you liked this post.

You might also like following posts: