Babbel is an app for language learning platforms available as a web and mobile application for both iOS and Android. The company was established in 2007 by Markus Witte, Thomas Holl and two others who had previously worked together at a Berlin-based software company. Today the company employs 750 members working across the headquarters in Berlin and the new office in New York City.
In 2016 Babbel has exceeded the magic number of one million active subscribers and it’s one of the most recognized online language learning platforms with a 70%+ brand awareness rate in the core markets. It was also dubbed the most innovative company in the education sector by Fast Company Magazine. 73% of Babbel’s users feel they’d be able to hold a short conversation in a foreign language after just five hours of using the app and the City University of New York found that for novice learners of Spanish, 15 hours of study with Babbel is equivalent to one college semester.
How was the company able to achieve such extraordinary results? They believe in a motivation-based approach offering users different combinations to help them achieve their own learning goals depending on their own motivations to learn a language. Lessons are usually 15 minutes long, so they fit everyone’s schedule.
Babbel has been incredibly successful on the B2C market and many individual clients left feedback that the company should also serve corporate clients. After market research and analysis of the growth potential Babbel decided to extend the existing application so it would fit B2B clients. Babbel turned to Netguru to help them build an additional module for the existing Babbel app that would prepare it for a new B2B strategy and empower Babbel’s administrators to manage their users with more flexibility.
The core of the application with all the courses and learning modules should stay the same in both B2C and B2B products. However, the latter requires three extra things for the business users to provide a smooth experience:
Babbel had limited options when it came to managing their users. They were also unable to approach B2B customers, as they wouldn’t be able to create groups within organisations or give certain members of such groups admin access. This is why a new module – the admin dashboard – had to be created. The main requirements for the dashboard were:
An additional challenge was the fact that the client used to work with many freelancers and, as a result, there were many contributors to the codebase before Netguru started the project.
Building a user management module was a big challenge for a company with such a large number of users and different types of data. To make sure that they would set off in the right direction, the Netguru and Babbel teams joined a scoping session, where they discussed solutions to existing problems and drafted the scope of the project. Both teams were very well-prepared for the scoping session, so the meeting at Babbel's headquarters in Berlin was a big success.
The new module had to correspond with Babbel's brand image and their high standards. It also had to fit the existing app and be easy to use by corporate customers. The UX design team worked on the entire dashboard flow so the user journey would be smooth and all key feature intuitive for the customers.
Based on research, the client's requirements and previously sketched user flows, the designers built all the necessary views of the admin platform. The end platform for team administration includes all the necessary features. The admin can analyze how often team members use the app and how much time they spend on particular courses. Also all the payment information is accessible from the dashboard. An organization just has to pay one bulk invoice for all the registered users.
The UI team added colours, icons and micro-interactions to the wireframes, so the final product would reflect the branding and standards of the core Babbel application.
I’ve had a long-lasting partnership with Netguru. Next to the great job the design and development teams have been doing, I also participated in the first edition of the Disruption Forum as a speaker. Great event where everyone was engaged. Happy that it works so well and hopeful that we can cooperate on more projects in the future. Netguru always tries to make things possible.
Our team recommended using React.js on the front end, and Ruby on Rails on the backend. The development was based on 2-week sprints to ensure the right level of flexibility, maximum value, and a constant feedback loop. The stack was chosen to ensure the highest app performance even in huge teams.
The client is ready to grow their business by moving into the B2B market. Business customers don’t have to have separate subscriptions for each individual team member; instead they get one invoice and everything can be managed from a user-friendly dashboard. Organizations also have access to data on the extent to which their employees are using the app and whether they’re making progress.
Today Babbel supports language learning for team members in companies ranging from startups to middle enterprises and well-established organizations, such as Huyndai, Paramount, N26, Bacardi, Pirelli, and Acer.