Udemy Personal Plan
Assisting course takers in reducing the friction of day-to-day learning.
As one of the most popular MOOC's, Udemy ↗ has a large variety of online courses— yet the service struggles with overall retention and course completion. While taking a Udemy course, I fell into the same slump. This led me to challenge myself to create a solution for me and the millions of Udemy learners.

As a Product Designer, I introduced a hypothetical solution to reduce decision fatigue and automate day-to-day coursework, similar to learning in a traditional classroom setting, but in the comfort of your home. Product Designer
Product Designer
Jun - Aug 2023
Interaction Design
Visual Design
Content Strategy
Product Designer
Jun - Aug 2023
Why a personal project?
As a budding designer, I took online courses to hone the fundamentals. However, the course structure made me feel unaccomplished unless I finished an entire section daily, leading to burnout from studying for long hours.

I gave myself 10 weeks to design a few feature, while mimicking Udemy design guidelines, to address the long standing retention issue. Simulating the internship experience.
Core Features
Udemy Personal Plan assists students in managing course content, combating procrastination, and seeking support by laying out a personalized automated plan with a daily goal and plenty of resources.
Personalize your learning experience
Take the opportunity to tailor the course environment as it relates to your time, energy, commitment and previous knowledge.
Learn each day with a goal in mind
Upon tailoring your experience, a Personal Plan will appear on your home page. Personal Plan allows you stay accountable for your goals while remaining flexible for your circumstance.
Now that you’re acquainted...
Let’s take a few steps back
Quick statistics
Udemy has low retention and course completion rates while being one of the most popular learning platforms. It is not an anomaly in the online course space.
course drop off rate
course content completion
course completion rate
Platforms emphasize courses
most platforms put an emphasis on course search-ability, credibility, and outcomes to allow learners to find quality courses that fit their interests. I wanted to focus on the environment courses are taken in and understand how to create an ideal online learning environment.
How might we make the environment surrounding online courses more engaging and supportive?
Main pillars of my research
Understand what makes students drop out of a course before completing.
Quantify what is blocking students from consistently learning and building a habit.
Determine what types of support students benefit from when learning.
As the course went on, students struggled with motivation
Why did users struggle?
In the beginning, motivation was high. However, students struggled to stay motivated as they dug deeper into a course. This problem lead to students dropping off as the course seemed endless and troublesome. Below are specifics gathered from users.
Decision fatigue/ boredom
Difficulty managing long courses and lack of necessity to know the entire course which causes the student to lose enjoyment and generally procrastinate learning.
Time management
Most students that take courses carry many greater responsibilities. Students had challenges maintaining motivation and managing their time effectively to stay on track.
“I did not stay on track with my course work. After the first few days, I sorta lost interest and then I drastically fell off.”
- Christian
Community support
Students often struggled to fully understand content and appreciated the value of learning communities (Discord and Slack) to provide instructional and emotional support.
All this boils down to...
Students lacked short term goals and support.
How does this shape the product?
With this insight, I realized that honing into a solution with an emphasis on automation, short term goals, and support resources was important. Therefore it would incentivize the user to build consistency while watching the progress slowly accumulate.
Udemys current attempt
Udemy recognized the low retention rates of it’s courses and implemented features to promote habit building. I think that these features are a good start, but there is room for improvement.
Streak Tracker
Users didn’t find much benefit from tracking weekly watch time. It wasn’t particularly motivating nor did it help them build consistency.
Learning Time
While blocking a time and duration to learn can be useful, the feature doesn’t integrate into Udemy and doesn’t account for individuals who don’t organize their day down to the hour.
Seamless and flexible experience for all
I wanted to help create an environment where online courses can be taught to meet a students specific desires without feeling overwhelming. To where online learning is so seamless that students choose to learn even when life gets busy.
Looking at the iterative process
Through iterating on my design, I was focused on conveying necessary information while maintaining clarity and maximizing flexibility for the user. Below are some explorations on various elements.
Home interface explorations
Personal Plan interface consists of two elements. A prominent window displaying course name, work and progress and a goal window documenting daily and weekly consistency.
Coursework view
At first, I designed the window to display all the lessons the student needed to accomplish. However I realized that the information displayed was overwhelming and students valued the number of courses rather than knowing each course name. I modified the design to be easily legible containing only the start → end and the number of courses.
Goal window
I wanted Personal Plan to have minimal development to market time, so I had initially planned to implement their existing streak window. However, I wanted the card to convey more information regarding weekly progress. Therefore I designed a dedicated goal window to properly convey short-term and long-term consistency.
Implementation explorations
Incentivizing users to try a Personal Plan is one of the most crucial steps.  I wanted to maximize visibility without sacrificing flexibility. Below are some iterations that I went through.
On course signup
While it increased visibility, it lacked flexibility even with an option to ignore the Personal Plan. It makes finding the ideal course more troublesome which is not my intention.
The Learning Tools tab
Compared to forcing the user to interact with Personal Plan, this option is much more flexible, but it lacks visibility. This solution is much less intrusive and could still be implemented as a secondary entry point.
Popup after finishing introduction
Using a popup allowed me to gently present the feature at the right time. I choose to present the feature after the user finishes the introduction section to give the user plenty of time to determine the course’s fit. It also introduces the feature when the user is motivated and will therefore enable a higher engagement rate. This option maximized visibility and flexibility and therefore became the primary entry point.
A reimagined course taking experience
Hi! Im Udemy Personal Plan
Once you’ve finished the initial introduction section, a friendly popup will appear asking if you’re interested in creating a personal plan. If you do not accept, it will prompt you to the learning tools section if you ever decide to try the feature out.
Take the first step in removing roadblocks
Setup a learning frequency, duration, and time along with eliminating any coursework already understood. After completing the onboarding, support resources will be presented. From Udemy’s own Q&A to external communities, there will always be plenty of ways to ask questions.
Say hello to your course companion
This is your new course home. The course window lays out your task for the day corresponding with the amount of time you choose to learn. The goal window encourages you to reach your set goals week after week.
Enjoy learning. Youve already made all the decisions
You’ll be halfway through the course before you know it.
Begin with a end in mind
Cruise through your work on autopilot. Personal Plan has already decided where you’re going to start and where you can stop. Managing course content and burnout has never been this easy.
Learn efficiently
Excluding sections during onboarding eliminates the boredom and distractions from your learning.
Feel rewarded for a days job well done
Watch the bar reach 100% and see those purple checkboxes start accumulating. Crave consistency and see your streak soar.
Feel rewarded for a days job well done
Watch the bar reach 100% and see those purple checkboxes start accumulating. Keep going and see your streak soar.
Personal Plan is flexible
We understand that lives and goals are ever changing. Maybe you just don’t enjoy the course as much as you thought. Personal Plan is built for any unique circumstance.
Continue learning after reaching your goal
While advised to not stray too far from your Personal Plan duration to avoid burnout, I understand that there are some days you’re feeling extra motivated.
Watch a specific lecture
While Personal Plan gives you a structured roadmap for your daily lectures, you can always hop into the syllabus and watch any lecture as many times as your heart desires.
Modify your Personal Plan
Whether you want to modify your duration, time, frequency, section exclusion or drop the course. You can always modify your personal plan at any time.
Modify your Personal Plan
Whether you want to modify your duration, time, frequency, section exclusion or drop the course. You can always modify your personal plan at any time.
Complete multiple courses
If you’re looking to complete multiple courses, don’t worry. You can have multiple personal plans and swap between courses with a click of a button.
Adapting to a short timeline
Due to the project having a short timeline, I was unable to build a functioning product to perform a long term usability study. Instead I allowed users to give me their honest opinion on the functionality while backing the longterm success with psychology.
User satisfaction
12/12 users believed that Personal Plan would increase their motivation to learn and help them stay on track. Many users reported that they already instinctually blocked off time to learn.
Short term goals increase motivation
Any accomplishment, no matter how small, releases the neurotransmitter dopamine which boosts your mood, motivation and attention. It also signals you to keep doing the activity again and again.
Reducing decision-making boosts mood
The brain closely monitors the body's energy during prolonged decision-making. When energy is low, the brain conserves by limiting functions, including the prefrontal cortex responsible for complex decisions. This can lead to irrational behaviors, poor choices, and quitting prematurely. Thus, it's not just a bad attitude that can hinder goal achievement, but also our brain's energy-conserving responses.
Looking back on the journey
Designing a feature for a established platform is challenging
Designing the feature to be impactful is a task in it self, but we also need to consider how the feature fits in the existing platform.
Uncovering edge cases
Design a perfect experience for one user and then scale something close to other users and the users themselves will help uncover edge cases.
Finding balance between business and user needs
As a product designer, we are often told to prioritize user needs. While this is true, we cannot forget about how design decisions can impact the health and longevity of the business.
ⓒ 2023 Robert Kan— created with inspo from the world