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Designing a referral program - A UI/UX case study

Devesh Pawar
April 22nd, 2021 · 3 min read

In this Case study, I have described my process of designing a referral system for an Ed-tech app — Artbay. The referral system is inspired by Google Pays gamification and lottery scratch cards.

See full interactive prototype here 🔗

Some context about Artbay

Artbay is a media and Ed-tech platform in Creative niche arts. It’s an alternative education platform and is conceptualized to bridge the gap between ‘degrees’ and ‘skills.’ The app provides in-depth masterclasses from various influencers is divided into three-phased approaches for ease of learning.

My project was a part of creating these experiences.

The app has one kind of instant lottery that is scratch cards. Members can collect scratch cards by successfully referring a friend to be a member. Members can then scratch these cards for various in-app surprises. The Profile section is currently a part of the app for displaying the exclusive reward statistics for Artbay members, where there is a good curation of rewards in the scratch cards to win from.

Problem Statement 🤔

To create a referral flow within the app that helps our most engaged or active users invite their friends and increase the app’s user base without spending money on marketing.

Research & User Insights 💭

Secondary Research 💡

I chose to begin my research with some Secondary Research to gather the necessary understanding of the topic and find statistics around the usage of referral systems in Edtech applications.

1. Skillshare

“Skillshare is an American online learning community for people who want to learn from educational videos. The courses, which are not accredited, are available through subscription. The main course categories are creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, technology, and many more subtopics.

According to their referral page, Skillshare provides:

  • “$10 for every new customer you refer to Skillshare”.
  • And, more specifically: “Skillshare affiliates can earn $10 in commission for each new customer that signs up for a Premium Membership or free trial.”
  • So you get paid if they sign up for a free trial- which means they don’t have to buy anything for you to earn a commission.

It’s definitely a decent option — Users preferred to get a flat fee to get people to sign up rather than get paid on course purchases.

2. Udemy

“ Udemy is a global marketplace for e-learning and teaching online. Students master new skills by learning from an extensive library of courses in 15 main categories and 100+ subcategories.”

According to their referral page, Udemy provides:

  • Udemy is a big brand with a solid reputation offering a variety of specialized products you can promote.
  • Users can create links and direct traffic to courses and pages of their choosing.
  • Udemy offers a subpar seven-day cookie duration, which limits users on earning excessive incentives.

Deep linking is available on Udemy. Deep linking is how an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. Users can develop links and direct traffic to courses and pages of their choosing.

Brainstorming Solutions 🧠

How might we create a referral system within the app that helps our most engaged or active users invite their friends and increase the app’s user base without spending money on marketing?

1. Create a scratch card lottery for users to participate in and win surprises.

  • ✅ Fosters interactive experience between users and creators.
  • ✅ Users check the app regularly for new scratch cards.
  • ⛔ Subscription prices will start to increase due to higher incentives.
  • ⛔ Users might not be incentivized to use real money.
  • ✅ Fosters interactive experience between users and creators.
  • ✅ Users check the app regularly for new free events.
  • ⛔ Free events can lead to excessive users spamming and might disturb the existing userbase and creators.

Impact/Effort Matrix 📊

After mapping out the matrix, it was evident that making premium subscriptions affordable by creating a scratch card contest feature was the most efficient in terms of development efforts and scaling the business long term.

User Flows & Wireframing 📱

Sketching out the solution on paper was very useful in figuring out the user flow and democratization of features for the new Artbay referral system.

App Features 📳

Lottery Scratch Cards

This solution solves the issue of making subscription affordable and addresses Artbay’s mission — to create the most personalized and authentic user experiences globally.

Primary TouchPoint

Main Referral Screen

Scratch Referral Success

Deeplinking On Event section

Takeaways 👁‍🗨

My personal takeaways of this projects are:

Always test with at least three people your designs: I was amazed to find out that most people didn’t understand the share link icon. Also, to find out that most people didn’t remember the value proposition in the previous concepts, we had to design different concepts until we found the best solution.

Mother’s tongue is essential: Here in India, almost everybody speaks English fluently, especially in Mumbai, so I didn’t think that the Hindi version would increase the message’s understanding, but it did!

Reflection 🌞

This was a tremendous 2-week long challenge for me at 10kDesigners, to improve myself as a Product Designer and really understand how I think about any given problem. It is was an interesting task trying to understand what the business stood for and seeing how I could add value to it through UX Research and Visual Design.

It was a great learning experience, as I learned the following:

  • Concepts, Design thinking, and implementation of Gamification.
  • Following brand design guidelines.
  • Prototyping using Protopie.

And that’s a wrap

This project was an Assignment given by Abhinav Chhikara at 10kdesigners Masterclass Cohort.

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