Communication Dashboard Project- Skillshare Website Assessment

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  1. Communiction Dashboard Project Skillshare Website Assessment by Peng Zhang 2. COMMUNICATION VEHICLE Organizational Environment Skillshare is an online learning…
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  • 1. Communiction Dashboard Project Skillshare Website Assessment by Peng Zhang
  • 2. COMMUNICATION VEHICLE Organizational Environment Skillshare is an online learning community for creators which was founded in 2010. Skillshare provides members online creative classes and opportunities to collaborate with the community on creative projects. Unlike other online courses, Skillshare mainly focuseson interaction than lecturing “with the primary goal of learning by completing a project.” Skillshare provides various creative courses including creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, technology and so on. Skillshare launched its online courses in August 2012. Currently, there are 2,034 online courses offered to over 1 million students. Skillshare provides teaching opportunities forover 1 thousand creative practitioners and industry leaders. With its membership model, hundreds of online courses in design, business, and technology, are available for $9.95 a month. Website Overview Skillshare`s primary communication vehicle is its website,, which isboth the product overview website and online learning platform. Before consumers sign in, the website offers an introduction page for browsing categories of courses, the workflow of Skillshare classes, the benefits of membership, and instructors training. After someone signs in with a Facebook account, there are also learning platform lists of selected courses based on their personal interests, interactive sessions in live channels and showcases of projects completed within this community. The platform also provides a forum for members to discuss topics and give tutorials.
  • 3. Homepage Structure Upon signing in on the website, visitors are presented with a learningplatform that includes various sections, tabs, and links. In the header, visitors can access links to resume classes (Home), browse classes, check the upcoming sessions calendar in the “live” channel and review all the projects designed by community members. Each member can also access “tutorials” to discuss creative tips inthe forum. Next to these tabs is the search box of classes database. On the right side, these four tabs are channels to recruit teachers, notifications toupdate information, personal account settings, and side functions such as “career," “press,” and “blog”. Especially, the notification function updates activities related to members and delivers messages from community members.
  • 4. The main body of the homepage includes four sections: the member`s personal classes, the class list member selected, the recommendation based on visitors` interests, and classes trending within the whole community. Typically, the primary section “resume your class” just displays three courses you learned most recently, which keeps members` concentration on their primary goals. All the content is streaming video which allows members to startlearning very easily. When visitors begin to scroll down the homepage, they can access various side functions including “Help,” “Membership,” “Become a teacher, “ “Career,” “Privacy,” “Term, “”About” and the mobile app download page. If a visitor notes the bottom right side, there is a welcome message from the Skillshare community manager. Upon clicking the box, a message box pops-up with a very personal welcome from the community manager. The manager offers three tips for beginners tostart their first course, and she recommends her favorite courses if visitors have anyproblem. COMMUNICATION AND BUSINESS OBJECTIVES Raise brand awareness
  • 5. Unlike other regular websites, Skillshare has two homepages for visitors and for members. For new visitors, the homepage is simply designed as a product introduction page which showcases all the features and benefits of the Skillshare community. Visitors could be engaged easily in the first sight with there is a high-quality background video with a briefbut powerful title “Learn New Creative Skills”. With the subtitle which introduced the size of the classes pool and the call-to-action button “Get Start for Free," the website increases awareness and delivers the most important information to target audiences in a few seconds. To highlight the core message of the Skillshare brand, the website emphasizes “creative skills” via visual and text content at the beginning stage of a visitor`s experience, and this message is “easy to understand and short, but getting the message across clearly nonetheless”. (Hunter Bickford, 2013) Lead attendance and reinforce visitor relationship with thecommunity
  • 6. On the main body of the homepage, there is a variety of categories which includes creative design, culinary, photography, and much more. Visitors can view the category of each video, members` ratings and the numbers of views per video. This section engages visitors with recommending very specific courses, which leads visitors to click class videos and start to discover this site. Upon scrolling down the homepage, gives further information about how classes work and the takeaway of classes. The site summarizes the benefit of Skillshare community very clearly: community members could learn class on their own schedule (“learn at your own pace”), watch lessons in appropriate length (“watch short lessons”), and learn courses with real project feedback (“learn by doing” ). Generate sales lead With the homepage increasing visitors` brand awareness and reinforcing their impression on the Skillshare community, the third communication objective is stimulating visitors to register
  • 7. for the premium membership. Scrolling down the homepage, visitors see the benefits of a premium account including the rights to access all online classes, watch lesson videos offline, engage in the vibrant community, support teachers payments and to donate other students in need. The website offers a 14-day free trail to members, with a $10 membership fee per month. Additionally, on the top header, there is a banner promoting its premium membership for a limitedtime. ORGANIZAITIONAL ENVIRONMENT OrganizationalEnvironment The online learning market is booming. The e-learning market is not just helping to reshape education, but also become a sizable business. Based on the report of Decebo (2014), the worldwide market for Self-Paced E-Learning reached $35.6 billion in 2011, while the aggregate growth rate is 7.6%. The market research from Global Industry Analysts indicates that the online learning market will reach $107 Billion in 2015, and “organizations of all types, from public schools to corporations, are opting to train and inform via the web.” (Tj McCue, 2015) Meanwhile, although educational technology just reached the mainstream in 2014, the e-learning market is already very crowded. Together with the industry giant such as and, “companies involved with e-learning will struggle unless they have a truly disruptive idea and a structural advantage.” (Mike Maples, Floodgate) However, some e-learning websites could get opportunities in niche markets. Englishcentral, the leading provider of online ESL, mainly focuses on English conversation solutions via English videos and adaptive vocabulary learning systems. Fitocracy is a professional community which provides fitness coaching classes. All those online learning platforms
  • 8. including Skillshare target to segmented audiences and build education business as with a niche focus. Another trend is, lots of individuals without teaching experience are empowered to create a business. Most instructors on Lynda and Skillshare are practitioners and experts in their areas without any teaching experience before, but “instructors are paid for their courses on an ongoing basis”. Skillshare guarantees the average annual earning is $3,500, and some star instructors could earn a healthy living from earnings. TARGET AUDIENCES Profile target audiences According to metrics found on, the primary demographic visiting is female. It is kind of surprising to me because as I see many instructors who come from the creative industry are male. Also, people who come from graduate school and college are mainstream rather than those with no/some college degree.
  • 9. Further, as indicated in the metrics above, visitors of skillshare are also interested in art and entertainment areas such as photography specifically. People with computer and electronics background might be the secondary audiences who seek for digital creative courses. While 32.6% of visitors come from the United States, skillshare has a broader reach in Europe, South America, and Asia. The second largest community of Skillshare is India, and the remaining top 5 is United Kingdom, Mexico, and Canada. To summarize, the primary target audiences are female from graduate school or college who seek to learn and improving their creative skills. The major areas they care about are photography and computer technologies skills, which might be helpful in the audiences` workplaces.
  • 10. Audience Profile CompetitorComparision In comparing the audience demographics for, ,and, some factors are quite distinctive. In regard to the gender of audiences, the primary
  • 11. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 10 audience of skillshare and coursera is female while is mainly visited by male audiences. For audiences` education background, visitors with college or graduate degree are almost the same, but Coursera`s visitors with graduate school background are quite outstanding. For the browsing location, Lynda is mainly accessed at home and workplace, while visitors of Skillshare and Coursera are usually accessing the site at home. Skillshare
  • 12. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 11 In term of visitors` geography, these three charts display how popular the websites are in different areas. The primary users of these three America based websites all come from the States; while skillshare`s American visitors occupied the highest share (32.6%). India is in the second place in these three rank. Especially, according to the “Rank in Country,” Coursera in India is the most popular than others. Surprisingly China is the third largest audience group in Coursera, but it failed to rank in the top 5 audience geography of Skillshare and Lynda. To summarize, we can see Coursera is more world-wide focused than the others while Skillshare is still limited to North America and lacks a wider global reach. INTERNAL & EXTERNAL BENCHMARKS Internal Benchmark To establish internal benchmarks, business owners should build a comparative tool about the business performance over time. To define the internal benchmark of Skillshare, I would mainly focus on the business and communication objectives which are related to the performance of its communication vehicles. Additionally, the engagement of the Skillshare community is also an important benchmark. So here are some benchmark I would measure: Business Objective driven: ● How many members join the community each year? ● How many instructors join in the community each year? ● How many course videos are provided on the platform each year? ● How many downloads are there of the mobile app? ● What is the revenue eachyear? Communication Objectivedriven:
  • 13. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 12 ● What is the frequency of the community members` interaction? ● How many page views by each visitor per day? ● How much time are they spending on courses in total? ● What is the ratio of new to returning visitors? ● How is the traffic accessed via social media? External Benchmarks According to Paine (2011), to measure the external benchmark, it would be ideal to benchmark two to three competitors including “a stretch goal, a peer company, and an underdog who`s just beginning to nip at your heels.” (p.37) As the number of benchmarks in this project are limited, I selected two competitors in the online learning market,, and As the market leader, Coursera is an online learning community which offers massive open online courses for publics. Coursera partner with top universities and organizations to provide academic courses including physics, engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing and other subjects. The peer company is an online education company offering video courses in software, creative, and business skills. The company founded in 1995 and merged by Linkedin for $1.5 billion. Now offers more than 4,000 courses for over 4 million people. I utilized site comparisons analysis on Alexa to evaluate the historical traffic trends of Skillshare, Coursera and Lynda. The table displays that ranked as a dominant
  • 14. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 13 position which is best ranked among these three websites, while skillshare is much lower than the others twocompetitors. The table below presents a strict forward overview of these websites` traffic performance: skillshare lynda coursera Global Traffic Rank 10,089 1,144 774 Pageviews per User 4.67 6.96 5.55 Bounce Rate 39.40% 36.30% 29.30% Time on Site 5:00 7:08 9:09 Facebook Likes 24,374 311,113 55,881 Source: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) The appropriate and specific key performance indicators are tied to output, outtake and outcome measures. (Paine, 2011) In order to establish appropriate and specific criteria of success, I derive the KPIs according to the communication objectives, audience persona, internal and external benchmark with Paine`s measurement methodology.
  • 15. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 14 Communication Objectives Outputs KPI Attitudes KPI Behaviors KPI Raise brand awareness amongst creative professionals Strength of branding visuals and messages concision of the interface operation Richness of courses content and variety of category Degree of motivation to visit the website Degree of motivation to share with friends Degree of Motivation to follow social media channels Percent of new visitors Percent of referred visitors Percent of visitors clicking on Facebook ads Lead attendance and reinforce visitor relationship with the community Richness of recommendation content Activity of Facebook page Reliability and profession of instructors Degree of motivation to refer other friends to like the page Degree of motivation to interact with community members Degree of motivation to post own works to “Project Gallery” Percent of repeat visitors Number of video classes comments Number of “project gallery” works Generate sales leads Design and ease of use of “get start” landing page Relative attractiveness of calls to action Design of membership promotion banner Level of motivation to register membership Motivation to jump to homepage from social advertorial Level of motivation to referral friend to register membership Percentage increase in membership sign-ups Number of visitors clicking on the promotion banner Percentage of referred membership (“Give a month, get a month” promotion)
  • 16. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 15 MEASUREMENT TOOLS AND KEY DATA Survey As Paine (2011) describes, “awareness refers to a person`s knowledge of a brand or message and is only measured by a survey.” (p.37) The first measurement tool I implemented is a survey which measures brand awareness and engagement of skillshare website. The survey covers several attitudinal KPIs including the degree of motivation to visit the website, the degree of motivation to share with friends, the degree of motivation to follow its` social media channels. The survey was designed on Surveymonkey, which including 10 questions in total. As the target audiences of Skillshare are mainly served for creative professionals, I distributed the pre-test survey to 10 classmates and colleagues. The complete version of the survey with results can be found in AppendixA. The first two questions were designed to measure the familiarity of survey participants with It helps to understand the initial awareness of skillshare and finds out some strength competitors which mentioned in the second question. The graphs below represent only 30% of participants familiar with skillshare, with 60% of participants are target audiences of online learningwebsite.
  • 17. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 16 The third question is designed to measure the degree of motivation to follow social media channels. The chart below indicates that with low brand awareness, skillshare reached its target audiences mainly through Facebook and Google search engine. At the same time, there are 5 respondents state that they are referred by “friends”, “classmates” and “word-of-mouth”. That is quite a range of referred visitors. The next three questions are used to measure the strength of website`s design and content.
  • 18. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 17 After reviewing the homepage, I want to diagnose survey participants about the strength of website design (#4 question), the strength of website`s key message (#5 question) and the richness of website`s content (#6). The Majority of response states that both the visual and content of the website is appealing and identifiable, which trigger over 80% of participants to have a depth navigation.
  • 19. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 18 Then I moved to measure the motivation to form a committed relationship with skillshare website. I implemented multiple choices questions, likert scale and open-end question in the following four questions, which helped me to understand whether these survey participants had an expectation establishing a satisfying relationship with skillshare. In term of the intent of participants to register membership of, 66.66% of respondents were interested in this service. In term of the motivation to recommend this website, 90% participants felt like to share with others. Then I utilized the likert scale to measure which elements or sections were most engaging for visitors. The “course content”, “visual design” and “easy of use” were top rated on the list.
  • 20. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 19 Heuristic assessment Heuristic assessment is a usability measurement method to identify usability problems in the user interface design. I implemented a heuristic assessment to assess the above KPI matrix especially the usability of the website and its` brand identity. The complete version of the heuristic assessment with results can be found in Appendix B. In this assessment, I listed ten questions which are which on the scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most effective. The table below displays the grand total score of each of these three websites. Coincidently, both the score of and got 46, followed by skillshare with the score of 37 in total. Obviously, lynda and cousera have better performance on usability while skillshare still has a plenty of room for improvement. When we go through the detailed heuristic assessment results, there are some findings come outstanding. Although the overall performance of skillshare is worse than lynda and cousera, skillshare get score of 5 on the “content category” question. In term of the activity of social channel, skillshare gets the lowest score comparing with other two websites. Additionally, each of website gets a relatively low score on the readability of website text.
  • 21. SKILLSHARE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT 20 Interpretation and Recommendations Both the heuristic assessment and survey revealed some trends by the data. By measuring output KPIs in the heuristic assessment, the graph below presented the usability of skillshare which demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of skillshare website. The graph indica
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