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Academia Homepage Redesign

Design a new logged out homepage for Academia that increased engagement and improved customer understanding of our product offerings.




3 Week Design Sprint
1 Week of Design QA

Product Design Lead

High fidelity designs, A/B test variants, A/B test plan outline




The logged-out home page for Academia was extremely basic, essentially a blank slate for design and UX optimization. It included some very basic messaging and a prompt to sign up for an account. On a monthly basis the page was getting about 1.5M hits and 600,000 and was driving about 7,000 signups. I believed that the page could generate more activity and signups if more thought and testing was put in to the deign.


Old version before redesign

Key Goals
  • Drive more first-time sign-ups

  • Communicate product value propositions

  • Increase interactivity and on-page engagement

  • Drive users to papers, authors, or topics that prompt them to sign up.


I hypothesized that we could make some key changes to this page that would have a very big impact and help us achieve our key goals.


Some of these key changes were:

  • Communicate more of the value proposition

  • Communicate more features

  • Communicate more exciting stats (X authors, Y papers)

  • Show lists of top papers, top authors, top Research Interests

  • Show a generic newsfeed of sorts

  • Allow searching and/or browsing of features.

  • Show social proof/testimonials


We knew that we wanted to design multiple variants to A/B test against each other so my first objective was to design the test and determine what page variants would be needed to facilitate results. 

Researchers and Authors are our two main user types. Authors are academics that regularly upload their work, share it with the community and look for feedback from likeminded scholars. Researchers are academics who come to the site to perform research on a specific area of study - these users are the ones who search for and digest content uploaded by our authors.

I determined that identifying which of these user types visited the logged out homepage the most and which was most likely to register and/or upgrade an account was a key learning that would drive the design of this page.

My team set out to design one strong version of a new homepage incorporating the key changes listed above and then make subtle changes to two different options, one that targeted researchers and one that targeted authors, we would then run the variants against each other to see which drove more traffic, registrations, upgrades and cashflow.

Researcher-Focused Variant
Author-Focused Variant
Variant 1 - research engagement.png
Variant 2 - author engagement.png
Frame 1485.png
Design Walkthrough

The two different variants had the same overall layout with different content within the components. Messaging was targeted towards the audience type and the feature 50/50 components highlighted features that would be key selling points to either researchers or authors. 


After running the A/B tests for about 1 month it became obvious that the researcher focused variant was performing significantly better than the author focused variant and the control (original page design) and was generating an an additional annual cashflow of $77,000 as well as 7000 new monthly sign-ups. The team resolved to the new design for the researcher focused logged out homepage. 

This was both a win from a business perspective but also from a product and user experience design perspective as the new homepage provided our users with more information about our product offerings and did a better job of communicating our brand and design aesthetic thus elevating our look and feel to potential new users and helping first-time visitors to have a better first impression of our company.

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