During the pandemic, some of us have been hit by things we hadn’t thought about in our wildest dreams, homeschooling being one. All the homeschooling jokes were hilarious till they stopped being funny. And keeping our kids learning and busy became a never ending chore as spring became summer.
Through all of this, emerged Outschool. Founded in 2015, Outschool is described as the “Netflix of learning.” Instead of offering online courses consisting of lectures and quizzes, Outschool gives students an immersive learning experience where they work with an expert teacher to learn a new subject.
I had never heard of it prior to a friend mentioning it as an option to consider for the summer break and then I pretty much started hearing about it from everyone. While the word of mouth pretty much sold me on trying Outschool, I wanted to see how effective their messaging is for users who purely chance upon them through web search. So on yet another slow Saturday morning, I typed in kids online classes in the google search bar and found the following listing on the results page (SERP).
“Small-group classes”, “live online” for “kids aged 3–18” are all pretty relevant to my search. So, I clicked on the listing and arrived at Outschool.com’s homepage.
A Brief Primer on Homepages
A homepage is technically a landing page since it is often enough the first page users see on your website. While typically landing pages are optimized for prospect traffic driven through specific paid media ad campaigns, the homepage sees prospects and returning customers due to a variety of triggers. It could be from an offline marketing effort (direct mail, outdoor advertising), a word of mouth recommendation or an existing customer returning for a repeat purchase. The traffic shows up from a variety of sources:
- Direct: Users typing in the URL www.outschool.com
- Organic search (branded): Users searching for outschool
- Organic search (unbranded): Users searching to find a solution for a need such as kids online classes or something similar
- Organic social media: Users click on a link from their facebook, instagram, twitter feeds
So, a homepage has the unenviable task of converting a wide variety of traffic. Users coming to the homepage could span the gamut from completely unaware to most aware. How do you go about understanding these users and devising the content that’ll best serve them? Your best bets are surveying your homepage visitors and analyzing the organic search keywords they used.
Now back to the task at hand. Using the criteria developed from the CXL coursework and first introduced in my previous blog post “A Landing Page Teardown Framework”, here’s how I evaluated Outschool’s homepage experience.
- Orientation: The copy matches with the SERP listing and explains what the product is i.e. live online classes and camps for kids aged 3–18. The design is clean and the call to action (CTA) button is dominant so the user knows what to do next.
- Presenting the offer: The goal of the page is to get users to create a free account on Outschool.com.
- Explanation / appeal to user motivation: The homepage has a rail with a list of courses (not sure how they are curated i.e. most popular, highest rated etc.), a section on customizing your child’s learning and a list of classes by subject. Further down the page, there are links to some teacher bios and a video section to see outschool in action. All this content works towards positioning Outschool as a solution to the user’s needs.
- Unique Value Proposition: There appears to be nothing directly mentioned that differentiates Outschool from its competitors.
- Credibility: There are two testimonials, a slate of top publications that have covered Outschool (along with links) and a video testimonial from a parent further down the page.
- Facilitation: The video player at the bottom of the page is where users can preview a live video class and see how outschool works.
- Anxieties: No content that deals with any fears, uncertainties or doubts.
- Trigger: No trigger on the page driving users to sign up.
Outschool.com’s homepage definitely has some hits but also some misses. Let’s look at them now. (Important to caveat that I don’t have access to their data. So, these suggestion are based solely on my heuristic analysis.)
The homepage does a good job in orienting the user with its clean design and copy that conveys what the product does. The headline “Where Kids Love Learning” is certainly appealing and the video in the background conveys the “anywhere” aspect even if the visitor miss reading it. Users can also see the variety of topics there are classes on.
With customer testimonials and publications, Outschool definitely has the social proof to establish credibility. They may want to tinker with the placement and format (video, copy etc) if they aren’t already doing so.
There appears to be nothing on the homepage that directly differentiates Outschool from its competitors and it is left to the user to research and answer “why outschool and why not IXL for example?”.
The homepage lacks urgency to help trigger user action. Experimenting with different CTA copy that conveys urgency around starting learning today, join a live class today or displaying classes starting in the next 24 hours in the classes rail could drive users to sign-up.
Outschool could add an FAQ section that answers users top fears, uncertainties and doubts regarding the classes, payment, cancelations etc.
The page is geared towards getting users to create a free Outschool account. It’s an easy sell, a micro commitment if you will. However, I wonder if this is a missed opportunity in terms of getting the user to sign up directly for a class instead. It will be worth testing a version of the homepage flow that’s focused on driving users to sign up for their first class.
Outschool has classes that meet just once as well as ones that are ongoing. The classes that meet once are low commitment and cost effective. These classes could entice users to try Outschool instead of simply creating a free account.
Another opportunity that Outschool has is personalizing the homepage experience to the user’s requirements, specifically the rail of classes. If I am looking for classes for my six year old, classes for 15–18, 9–14 year olds will not be relevant and may even make me bounce. I may also need to find a class starting soon if my child care arrangements have fallen through. These are all considerations that parents have and Outschool can customize the homepage experience based on.
All in all, Outschool.com has a good homepage and scores higher on clarity as compared to others in the space such as IXL.com (another post on that, maybe). As with teardowns, this exercise doesn’t tell you what will work, but it does provide a useful checklist of elements that should be addressed on the page and the funnel.
If you found this post useful, checkout these..
- A Landing Page Teardown Framework
- How to write great copy that converts
- Designing effective Landing Pages
(Leaving you with two of my favorite homeschooling jokes.)