Confession: I work in tech and I don’t know how to code…but I’m working on it.

I’ve been trying out different online tools, the kind like Treehouse and Udemy which are designed to teach mere mortals like me how to code. I decided to give the Codecademy app a try—a perfect activity for my morning commute.

Codecademy‘s iOS app is an incredibly straightforward series of exercises designed to teach the basic fundamentals in one hour. Its website offers free coding classes in six different programming languages. The program boasts 24 million learners from around the globe who have completed over 100 million exercises.

One bite at a time

Speaking from experience, learning to code can seem like a daunting task—but, like my father always says, ’How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ And that’s exactly what Codecademy intends to do: teach coding in bite-size segments. The app offers users a taste of code, get in get out in an hour, and it stops there. Codecademy cannot achieve their mission of ‘Teaching The World How To Code’ in one hour. They need to either get people from the app onto the website and retain their interest, or offer more lessons on their app.

In this Teardown Tuesday, I’ll offer ideas for how Codecademy’s iOS app can turn more app users into engaged, long term coders.

The app Hour of Code consists of a sequence of exercises designed to teach people ‘the basic structure of code’, culminating in an exercise where the user creates their own minipage. Once you’ve finished the minipage, the app says ‘Congratulations’ and asks for your email to send you a link to your creation. That’s it.

Original Codecademy app experience

Codecademy’s original completion screen.

This is great—but don’t just stop there! Below, I’ve created a couple variations that Codecademy could test out to increase usage beyond this initial hour and ultimately teach more people to code. The goal of all three of these variations is to move eager-yet-novice coders like myself a little bit closer to becoming a coding master.

Test Idea 1: What Comes Next?

In App, give users suggestions on what to do next.  ‘You’ve got the bare basics down, which do you want to learn next?’ By suggesting what they can start on next—maybe even making it mandatory—Codecademy may be able to keep people coming back to the app. This would require them to extend the functionality of their app beyond the 1 hour of coding lessons.

Test idea 1 for Codecademy

Test idea: give users options of what they can learn next.

Test Idea 2: Straight to the Next Lesson

Rather than congratulating people on finishing the hour of code, congratulate them and introduce the next lesson as a continuous experience. By giving them a clear direction forward, we might be able to lead more users into the next exercise.

Codecademy test 2

Test idea: make continuing to the next lesson seamless. Remove the option to select a skill and make it a continuous learning track.

Test Idea 3: Create an Account

Ask people to create a Codecademy account that they can also use on the website. This variation could have a huge impact because it bridges the gap between app and web, which are currently separate. The app does not have any login function. With a login, users can pick up where they left off in a web exercise anywhere, whether they’re on the bus, their couch, or at their desk.

Codecademy test 3

Test idea: Add a login to the Congratulations page to bridge the gap between app and web, which are currently separate.

In each of these variations, we’ve also eliminated the ‘Share’ option to make sure users would not be distracted by two competing call to actions.

Continue the learning

If you’re not learning, you’re un-learning. Without regular maintenance, languages (whether it be French, Spanish, or JavaScript) begin to fade. All applications in the Education category—Codecademy included—depend on engagement. For Codecademy, moving users seamlessly into the next activity and promote cross-platform interaction is one way they can retain users and further their goal of teaching the world to code.

Earlier this year, Code.org, a similar education-based company, was able to sign up an additional 15 million users to join their ‘Hour of Code’ campaign through A/B testing (check out this video of their story). It may be able to have a similar impact for Codecademy.