New Course Product Positioning at Skillcrush

As a Product Designer I validated the value proposition and defined the product positioning for our Python Course.

The Details


Our course creation process involves validating our audience's need for learning a particular skill or subject matter. We define what specific topics and skills they are looking for in that subject matter. After that our curriculum team with the help of a subject matter expert begin work on the course curriculum.

That's when I entered. We needed to do some more validation of the value proposition. Using that as a foundation, we position our new course to our prospective students.

Our target customer is specifically womxn and BIPOC who wish to change careers into tech.

My role

As a Product Designer I conducted research, testing, prototyping, and visual design. (I even did a little QA!)


Our high level goal was to produce a course that would provide valuable skills for increase job opportunity.

To do that, we would need to get into the weeds and figure out:

1. Product Positioning that addresses user fears and concerns

2. Product Positioning that aligns with user goals and values

Final Product Positioning on our Sales Page


Determine the Course name

We did some quick testing having prospective customers and current customers. We had them compare course names, shedding light on which aligned with their goals. We used Google Docs to test in low fidelity, alternating order to prevent bias. This resulted in the name "Python for Web Apps and Data", which addressed our users needs and described the skills expected.

Test the Syllabus

Using our curriculum team's syllabus as a starting point, I facilitated some user value tests to find out details about Python's appeal.

We collected great qualitative data on:

1. Prospective student motivations and goals

2. Prospective student concerns and fears

3. Specific words or jargon that confused them

4. Specific language they used to describe what they want

5. Which areas of the curriculum were most exciting

Define customer Goals and Fears

We created some assumptions about what reservations our prospective and current students held. We wanted to know more about the things we heard in our syllabus testing, so I set up some card sorting style tests. For this testing we used Mural to have our participants sort cards with assumptions written on them. They sorted them into columns "This is me" "This is not me", and then ranked them. Exploring this ranking helped us validate assumptions about goals, motivations, fears, and concerns.

Example of one of the card sorting activities we did with participants.

Brainstorm product propositions

The written word is SO important to positioning a product.

With some similar phrases we kept hearing from our interviews, we put pen to paper with some ideas. We explored different threads and expanded a product position on them with our customer in mind. We ended with 4 different approaches to the sales copy.

Test skeleton sales pages

We tested our positions in low fidelity, using Google Docs. During the interviews we had uses not only give us their first impression but compare.  The goal was not to identify which ONE was the best but more which elements they were responding to. This approach helped us refine and merge pages.

Test hero headlines

We had some fun testing headlines by doing 10 second tests. We used dev tools to alter the text on one of our live course sales pages so that the headline and title could represent what we wanted to test. We took screen caps of each "above the fold" landing area of the page. Then we had participants only look at each screen for 10 seconds.  We got a lot of reactions to copy we were using, and quickly identified the words and phrases that mattered to our prospective students. We also got good validation about how receptive our students are to puns-- and that was fun to run with.

Test live sales pages

We translated all our testing into live sales pages. Our website is  WordPress, and we duplicated our sales pages to swap in different product positions. We tested these and finalized our sales page.

Test Email to promotion pages

The last thing we tested was an experience of a prospective student segment. This segment receives an email with a special offer at launch that directs them to a landing page. In interviews we tested the email content, CTAS, and landing page. We wanted to identify that the position and value made sense.

Take Away

  • It was difficult to validate so much with mostly qualitative data.
  • We had to do a lot of interviews talking to a lot of people to find out if we were on the right track.
  • Since the class was on a tight production schedule too, we had to hustle to find the answers we needed to be ready for launch.
  • Since the class was on a tight production schedule too, we had to hustle to find the answers we needed to be ready for launch.
  • We also had to be careful to not get distracted by the things that bubbled up when we did our testing that didn't relate to this class.