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Learning Together with Online Video

How we transitioned from an all-access pass to an online video marketplace filled with experts sharing their knowledge


Pivoting from an all-access pass platform for events and activities in London, HowNow moved into the digital space with a focus on a video learning platform and marketplace. Providing instructors with the ability to run their business online and reach a wider audience, and for people across the globe to find an expert.


As the Design Lead in a startup, I worked closely with the CEO to put together the vision of transferring from a bricks and mortar orientated business to an all-digital platform and marketplace.


With limited resources and a short runway, our goals were to create a working video learning platform in a short space of time. We wanted to validate the user journeys by designing and iterating fast.

  • How can users find experts in a chosen field to teach them?
  • How can experts earn money teaching what they love?


Learning online is not an alien concept with many subjects have a vast array of resources online to educate and inform anyone looking to learn. In the online video space, the most prominent platform is YouTube, where a Google search can provide answers to almost any question with a video articulating that information.

However, one of the most common issues we discovered was users can find individual bits of information from various different places and it creates a segmented experience without the personal touch that having a tutor or mentor, or even a classroom can provide.

Online course platforms such as Udemy and ___ provide extensive video courses which are all pre-recorded and have a high drop-off rate.

Live streaming was in it’s infancy and platforms like Twitch were kicking off the rush in the Gaming space.

Designing a Marketplace

With experience in building a marketplace, we already had the technology ready to work with for discoverability, content organisation and administration. Our MVP goals were to rebrand and design a system that could allow for users to get into their class as soon as they chose.

We experimented with a number of flows and layouts and settled on a completely frictionless experience from discovery to purchase to learning.


One-to-One Learning

Our next steps were to design a seamless learning experience that would work first on Desktop, with room to expand into responsive mobile experiences.

Our first iteration was focused on providing the experts and students using a single camera setup for their lessons. As development moved forward, we expanded that ability to share screens, have a secondary camera.

One-to-Many Learning

Following the success of our One-to-One learning system, we quickly began working on allowing experts to sell multiple seats to their lessons and provide a classroom style experience. To provide the best experience, we needed to expand on what we could provide including:

  • Grid views for both Instructor and Students
  • The ability for Instructors to expand and collapse individual student videos to provide feedback
  • Chat room functionality

Booking Widgets

We received a lot of feedback from our users and we learned to adapt quickly and build out features that we felt would greatly improve the user experience. One thing we discovered was that Instructors, who had already had some form of video-call lesson service over Skype wanted to use our platform for learning but promote their services through their own channels, mainly their websites.

One of the biggest challenges we found was that instructors with various levels of technological expertise had websites of various styles and platforms. We wanted to provide a customisable widget that they could brand themselves, however due to time and budget constraints, we needed to limit our scope and provide a catch-all option.

With a one-click process, Instructors could copy and paste a pre-generated iframe for individual classes they wanted to provide and paste them into their website where ever they chose. We tried to be as accommodating as possible by creating flexible widths that allowed our widgets to fit seamlessly into the sidebar or main content area of any website.


Our online learning platform grew with multiple iterations. Our customer base grew from 0 to hundreds within the first year with thousands of lessons being taken place in a wide variety of subjects. From individuals in the Bahamas teaching women-only Yoga classes to students around the world, to one-to-one guitar tuition and even English language classes being taught to Chinese children. HowNow’s platform proved to be a great success.

Next steps

The feedback we received was incredible and plans to expand grew. Many of our instructors wanted to expand their business beyond singular classes and wanted to offer pre-recorded video lessons, with their live video classes being sold at a premium rate.

We also saw requests for a walled-garden approach with instructors wanting to move away from sharing marketplace space with their competitors and have their own online school platform that they could customise and make their own, allowing them to move away from their websites that they rarely update or maintain.

Both of these things came into fruition the following year.

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