Mobile version of the onboarding designs.

Step 1 - Schedule a call with program manager

Step 2 - Fill out your availability to meet with mentor

Step 3 - Answer questions about past experience

Step 4 - Sign up for student Slack

The confirmation that everything went alright

Proposed new dashboard based on user research and design of onboarding

Updated settings pages

 

THINKFUL: NEW USER ONBOARDING.

ONLINE EDUCATION PLATFORM FOR BECOMING A DEVELOPER.

A new process to make new studnets feel welcomed as well as preparing them for success in the three to six month, self paced Web Development Career Path.

 
 
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The problem:

Although most students were doing great some were falling through the cracks in progress and not utilizing the tools and resources we were providing them. The first experience of the app was manual, impersonal and uninspiring.

 
 

The goal:

When a new student signs up for Thinkful’s Web Development Career Path, the student will need to provide us with information that will let us match them with the best mentor for them (personal and human). We also want the students to feel confident about starting their learning journey with us by utilizing all the available resources to them (confidence boosting).

The new student's mindset:

“I am here to learn; let me pay for this course so that I can start learning!”

I am here to learn; let me pay for this course so that I can start learning!
 
 
 
 

The process:

In order to understand how to improve the experience of the first time user, I took a close look at the current state of things. There was the Thinkful website, the sign-up process and then finally the dashboard. None of this was optimized for the specific experience of the new Career Path student.

 
Old sign up flow
 
 

HEURISTIC EVALUATION OF the current (old) experience.

If you take a look at the dashboard’s annotations you can see that there are two things that fit a user’s mindset, which is to learn. All of the other tasks or links were placed there with a purpose but they got in the way of what a user came here to do on their first day. Not to mention that the tasks students were seeking to do were not prominent at all. 

 
 

USER INTERVIEWS.

I’ve conducted interviews with three different types of people in order to best understand the needs of the students and how to satisfy them. I spoke with almost 30 people in the course of two weeks.

 
 

Program Manager:

Someone who understands the students' career goals and helps them achieve it, sort of like a counselor.

 

Mentors:

There to help the student understand the curriculum, keeps the student accountable and helps them with problems as they work.

 

Career Path students:

I interviewed students who fell into three different categories: 

The main point of the interviews was to understand their impression of the difference between a successful student, average student and a failing student.

The main point of speaking with the mentors was to find out what they do in order to help struggling students whether the student is struggling with a single problem for a few hours to struggling with the course in general for a few weeks at a time.

1. 0 - 2 weeks in course
To figure out what their expectations were, their impression of the onboarding process, to see what they envisioned the future would be like.

2. 2 - 3 monthsin course
To understand how things were working out so far. Did they have any complaints? What were they happy about? What frustrated them the most? How did they used certain features available to them? Did they understand what was expected of them in order to be job ready?

 

1. 0 - 2 weeks in course
To figure out what their expectations were, their impression of the onboarding process, to see what they envisioned the future would be like.

 

2. 2 - 3 monthsin course
To understand how things were working out so far. Did they have any complaints? What were they happy about? What frustrated them the most? How did they used certain features available to them? Did they understand what was expected of them in order to be job ready?

3. Graduating students
To know how they got to this point. What obstacles did they face, if any? What did they do when they were struggling? What did they wish they knew when they first started?

 

Additionally, I wanted to know what motivated each group of students and how this motivation may shift over time as student's progress through the course.

 
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The insights.

We defined success at Thinkful as someone who went through the course and was job ready. There was a clear distinction between students who succeeded easily and those who didn’t - whether or not they struggled with the course itself.

Four key insights did stand out:

 

1. Knowing that there was a support group of mentors and other students available 24/7 via Slack was important. 

 

2. Meeting the Program Manager helped in knowing that the student was not alone when something went wrong.

 

.3. The features offered were trivial as it all depends on the student’s learning styles

 

4. Getting matched with the right mentor made all the difference in their experience at Thinkful.

 
 

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS.

With all the information we had, we finalized our list of project requirements to the following:

  • If a student didn’t fill something out in the onboarding process they cannot proceed to the dashboard until they do. They can access settings if they need to contact support.
  • Include a call out for signing up for the student Slack channel.
  • Add scheduling a call with the student’s assigned Program Manager.
  • Keep availability schedule.
  • Keep but rewrite the current forms for filling the profile questions. 
  • Settings need to reflect the new questions so that they can easily be updated in the future in case student needs to change a mentor.
  • Clean up the dashboard of, now, redundant tasks.
 
 
 

The new onboarding experience..

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Design deliverables:

 
 
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14 - Deliverable.png
 

The results:

 

Thinkful saw a drastic increase in trial rate completions immediately after shipping the new onboarding process. Thinkful offers a one week trial on its courses and the trial completion rate increased 20% for Web Development Career Path. Further testing such as AB tests or more user interview could tell how to further improve that rate.

 
[Paula’s] efforts, which spanned dozens of student interviews, designs, project management, and QA led to the largest single change to student retention we’d seen to date. Thinkful saw a 20% increase in students successfully completing their free trial as a direct result of her work. That’s a lot of education we now get to provide.
— Darrell Silver, Thinkful