Dan Tase
+40 753 841 574
In 2018 I started consulting with Obby - a small start-up with the goal of helping people learn new things, from pottery to business. They just finished a rebranding process with Koto and needed someone to help them with their growth projects.

When I joined the team, Obby had some well-performing categories (bringing the vast majority of revenue), but they were struggling on some others. We then kicked off a long-term process of improving conversion and helping them grow.

Goal: Help Obby grow by improving conversion across all underperforming categories.
Building a feedback loop
Although Obby was still a small start-up, they had already built a great feedback loop. They were gathering feedback from students via Hotjar, using Fullstory to see how people interact with the platform and dived deeper into those problems during regular customer interviews.

All feedback was pushed to Slack in the form of a comment, making it easier for everyone in the team to empathise and brainstorm.
We then took all that feedback and translated it into features. Trello seemed like the most collaborative option, so we created a new board and prioritised them based on the urgency.
We decided to start with the top-of-the-funnel problem: filtering. Prior to this, the only ways to filter were the top level categories (Art, Crafts, Languages, etc). This made it really hard for people to find what they're looking for, especially for such a time sensitive activity. We then started to identify all possible filtering options and commit to what's most impactful.
The most common request was to see classes for a specific date. What we noticed in our customer interviews was that most users plan roughly 1 week in advance, but they're pretty flexible regardless. So we added defaults, with the option to select a specific date as well.

The 2nd most common request was to add a location filter. More accurately, people wanted to only see classes close to their location. Although this seems like an easy job (just add a map?) in reality some categories don't have enough supply, and teachers have classes across multiple areas.
Although initially our assumption was that users wanted to know the exact duration of a class, in reality they were being annoyed by the class vs. course differentiation. The exact duration wasn't a blocker when searching for classes.

Skill level:
This one's obvious. Users didn't want to sign up for an advanced Spanish class when the only thing they knew was 'gracias'.

Based on our initial conversations with users there were plenty other filters we could have added. Things like price, reviews & popularity were pretty common, but we decided to stick with the basics for V1.
Compare classes
The next step was to help people compare between classes better. The current Obby cards weren't scalable, given the number of new features Obby wanted to release. Some of the things we wanted to solve were:

Better information architecture
The old information architecture was pretty messy. Details were grouped together without having anything in common, making the page hard to scan.

Explain Flexitime
Obby allows users to book at their desired time & location with Flexitime. While some people didn't understand what Flexitime is, those that did weren't sure about the limitations.

Allow discounts
Teachers also have the option to add discounts for group bookings, called Block Bookings. While this was present on the full class page, it wasn't visible on the listing page.
Old Obby cards
We started by benchmarking with lots of other platforms, such as Etsy, Airbnb, IKEA and many more. Then, we explored a large number of solutions, from only showing a flexitime label, to fully explaining what flexitime is. In the end, we agreed on the version that wasn't overwhelming but provided enough context to make choosing easier.
Although we added a brief explanation for Flexitime and Block Booking, we soon realised that wasn't enough. People still needed more details in order to understand what those are and how they're useful. We decided to insert some breathers, explaining the main benefits of each of those 2 features.
Improving landing pages
A thirds step in our growth plan was to redesign the landing pages. A large part of the Obby traffic comes from search engines, so we wanted to make sure users find enough value when landing on the page. Our main goals were:

Educate users
We wanted to educate users on each specific category, so their confidence level is higher when deciding to book.

Improve SEO
Given that a large part of traffic comes from search engines, we worked closely with an SEO expert to identify best practices and implement them.

Increase trust
Most people that reached this page were new to Obby. We took some time to inject some brand personality, from how it works to main benefits.
We then added inserts into each category, explaining more about the history & tools related to that category. Given that most Obby users are beginners, educating them at this stage is highly beneficial.

For example, explaining the tools of pottery before their first class made people feel less anxious. Or explaining the different certifications for wine-tasting helped people decide on what to go for.
We also added other sections such as how it works, bios, venues, our money back guarantee proposal and in-page SEO linking.
Cancel & Reschedule
Up until this point, cancelling and rescheduling classes was a manual process. Users needed to send an email to customer care and wait for an answer for 1-2 days. This was a stressful process for both sides, and we wanted to change that.

Given our money back guarantee proposal, we allowed users to cancel a class at any time, while getting a full refund. This also helped us gather feedback in terms of the most common cancellation reasons.
From the data captured during cancellations, we realised most people's cancellation reasons weren't related to permanent events. So we added a rescheduling feature, allowing users to select a new date and reschedule instantly.
Improving content
As all 2 sided marketplaces, one big struggle Obby had was the lack of good quality content. Most teachers would sign up on the platform, quickly add a test class and wait to see if it's successful.

So we kicked off an initiative focused on helping them write better content. On the class creation page we added contextual hints, making it easier for teachers to understand best practices.
One other struggle our students had was the lack of photos. Although teachers had lots of great images, they never knew which ones to add. So we added hints on the uploader to make it easier to decide.
How it went?
Working with a small start-up like Obby has both of pros and cons. Most of these features were researched, designed and validated in just a few days and went live soon after. This move fast mentality was really beneficial as it allowed us to learn and adapt as we go.

During my time there we launched lots of A/B tests, rolled back quite a few unsuccessful designs and shipped some amazing features.
Kudos to the Obby team ✊
This wouldn't have been possible without the help of Max Kufner (Co-founder), Tom Batting (Co-founder), Aleksandar 'Cikito' Andjelkovich, Pedro Semeano, Vitor Gonçalves (Engineers) and the awesome team at Koto who did the rebranding.
If you'd like to hear more about this project, or to talk about how I can help you grow your start-up, ping me at tasedanmarian@gmail.com