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Ask HN: Would you pay for design lessons?
34 points by marcomassaro 1190 days ago | past | web | 47 comments
I am an experienced UI/UX designer and was thinking of opening a service posting web design video tutorials, source files, tips, one-on-one help etc to monthly subscribers.

Is this something you would be interested in? And if so at what price point would you feel comfortable paying?




Just a caution: people who "would buy" generally greatly outnumber people who buy. You might want to try advertising your product like it exists and tally up serious inquiries. It's easy to rattle off things you "would do," a bit more effort to actually do them.


Valid point - I wanted to use this as more of a gauge and then take the next steps.


It can't even be used as a gauge.


I disagree. I am reading a lot of good feedback here. Maybe these people won't buy but they are offering up a great deal of advice, ideas and more that are helpful in starting the process.


Feedback is great, but I wouldn't rely on any potential sales numbers you gather without first getting commitments in writing, or even a deposit. Someone saying they will buy is a lot different than doing. A friend of mine recently had less 10 commitments out of 100 come through with cash, and that was with written commitments-- they basically said "then sue me."


I would consider paying for an in-person tutorial/workshop, probably not for a newsletter. There's already Hack Design which I subscribe to but never find the time to read.


In-person is a good idea but too hard to scale in my opinion. I would really be looking for students who WANT to learn rather than students who just sign up to poke around and never use it.


I think the problem with a newsletter of design lessons is that there is too much game in town already, so it becomes harder and harder to pick and choose (except for people who know who you are, if you think there's a good market for that then by all means go for it.) Lessons tailored to feedback on the customer's already designed product, however, is something I'm yet to see. And it ensures you get people who WANT to learn, since they even built something already and tried their best. You could start doing it yourself, but if you think from the get go of a domain and brand, you can easily scale by creating a marketplace for this kind of instruction down the road. And really, I think personal lessons coupled with design critique is a sorely needed service, and would set you apart.

As the GP said, I also already subscribe to Hack Design but I've had the first lesson, the Objectified documentary, open here for weeks now. I'm yet to take the time to go past that. I'm busy designing and building my app. Sneak into the MVP builders' workflow and help them, and I think you're gonna find the best customers in as much as you're looking for people who are self-motivated and wanting to learn. There's just not enough time for everything we want to do. Take the time to filter the chaff out of the enormous amount of material for learning design out there, and pick the best stuff that I need right now, as per the horrendous mistakes I made on my app, and I'll pay you premium for it.


All I do is learn. I love learning.

This is a field that I've found hard to learn about without someone who is passionate about it around.

As long as it was clear that the person providing the service was really rather passionate about their field and considered competent by their peers, I would pay a premium for in-person ... tutoring. Mentoring. Whatever. One-on-one or with a small group (max of around 7 people).

If I had the money, I'd say fuck scale and buy and staff a Socratic sort of Hogwarts for the neckbeard, and live the rest of my life happy.


I would pay for in-person tutorials or workshops too.


I had the same problem with Hack Design! Ended up unsubscribing because I could just never find the time to do it...


I would pay for an in-person workshop too. online probably not.


Only if it is really increasing my personal learning curve.

1. I want to try stuff my own.

2. Then I want an expert to step in.

3. The expert should teach me how to improve the stuff I already started.

4. And now the important part: I need to understand why/what makes it better.

5. Teach my how to "think" like a pro.

There is a gazillion of tutorials and stuff out, but what I am missing the most is fixing the gap between what is going on in my head vs. what is going on in the head of the teacher.


This might help the OP come up with a hybrid approach. Create tutorial videos, blog posts, whatever that have lessons with exercises. Publish them for free. People pay for you to take time reviewing their work and then meeting with them over Skype for feedback and personal instruction. Hmmm. I guess that doesn't scale too well either. You would have to charge $100+ an hour to make any money. Maybe you charge a small monthly amount for access to all content. I dunno. Actually speaking to the person with experience is key, but their time is so valuable that it stops being affordable enough for people that need it.


Consider that the OP creates a marketplace for such services. He can funnel in enough customers that someone offering services in his marketplace can easily find $100/h gigs to fill their whole working day. He can scout out great talent who would be more than happy to make anything close to $800 a day, or half that much for that matter.


I like it. I know multiple people who would love to be able to pick up work like this on a light day. Everyone should be teaching their craft to some degree, too.


Totally agree. When I first started designing I went through hundreds of tutorials which made it very overwhelming.

I want to create a program that is organized and will help people actually learn how to create attractive and usable websites.

My main goal however is to not only help those learn design (and give them feedback), but to also help them put their skills to practice and either build a business or find contract work (if that is desired).


I would probably pay for the one-on-one help part. In particular, anything along the line of professional review of my own designs would be something I would pay for. I wouldn't pay for generic design advice from tutorials etc, as these kind of things are often a lot of work to really use and it's difficult to know if you've learned anything or used them correctly - plus there are very good ones available for free already.

I'm not sure how you'd be able to charge for this - if you charge consulting rates for one-on-one then only expect a few large companies/startups to sign up - and these guys would probably just hire a design consultant directly. If you went for a cheap offering, you'd need to keep the advice very short and shallow so as to cover enough people to make a living wage - and shallow design advice is not that helpful.


One-on-one reviews are tremendously valuable, and I suspect not only large companies would buy them for consulting rates.

Consider a startup product on the finish line, which lacks polish because non of the makers is a professional designer. If they are like me, they do notice that the overall design is not professional/engaging/appealing enough, but are themselves not able to identify why exactly, and what to do about it. Thats where professional designers are sorely needed.

Me in that situation would not hesitate to pay you, say $600 (in european circumstances) to sit with me for 4 hours interactively, you giving advice and me tweaking the css/svg (the harder stuff for homework), provided

a) I am convinced you know you skills

b) You are able to communicate effectively with a non-designer

c) You could concentrate on the low hanging fruit: Limited effort which still improves my design significantly. It won't perfect, and doesn't have to be.

Note that for all of these points you would have to gain my trust, which is in itself a lot of work. Without that, I might still give it a try, but I would only willing to pay you throwaway money. But gaining my trust doesn't have to be one-on-one though, a good blog or your tutorials could do.


This is something I really want to get into. Consulting. However, I regret not having blogged sooner about my skills/expertise so it is definitely something I need to do in order to build up credibility outside of my network.

Appreciate the reply.


Thanks for the reply. I actually began learning from tutorials and I agree it is hard to to tell what to use and if you're actually learning.

I want to create a clear cut system on how to plan, wireframe and actually design beautiful websites. I think the one-on-one help can be an added benefit and of course I would be fully engaged in my community - not just posting videos but actually critiquing and helping users get better.


I'd be willing to pay for a book (E or physical). I'm not a big video fan. Probably $40-60.

Not sure what I'd pay for one on one. If you were willing to look at my code and evaluate, I'd be more interested. Rather than something 'lecture' style. You could then do future posts/tutorials via my one on one. "This was the original code, it was good but XYZ was lacking. So we did THIS. Here is a before/after shot, etc".


Very interested, but would have to be in-depth to be able to compete with all the free stuff on the web. For example, I'd pay for a tutorial that walks me through the design of a complete website app from start to finish, if it has video even better. Also, please don't exclusively make it subscription based. I'm willing to pay 30 - 50 dollars up front to learn something in depth (it's similar to paying for an e-book) than to subscribe monthly for something I may not have time to go back to. Offer both options.

If you do go through this, please dedicate a large portion of time on your workflow and tools. Not enough programming, design books do this. For example, when I learned Python and Django it took me a while to figure out VirtualEnv existed and things like Vagrant etc.

Put up a landing page and ask users to leave their email, it will help you gauge interest.

Good luck!


I would pay for lessons in the context of design critique. Meaning, I have (attempted) to design something, you offer harsh critique bracketed by tailored lessons. I think you'd have a good market since a lot of devs try their hand at designing their apps.


Good idea. This would be easy to sell as a package too - "For only $X, I will prepare a detailed feedback report on your site, and provide Y hours of training tailored to your needs".


I like this idea. Thanks for the reply.


You should check out The Skool (http://theskoolrocks.com/) with Jose Caballer. He's the host of the This Week in Web Design podcast and former creator of The Groop design agency in LA. He has conferences as well as weekly group calls and one-on-one help, along with all the tutorials. You might be able to get some background on the pricing, although he caters more towards professionals looking to improve their career rather than strict tutorials of how to design better. But it's a good starting point. Also, you need to see how much value you can add compared to a DIY subscription to something like Treehouse or Lynda.


I am cheap and so are many other consumers of your product. That said, I have probably spent a few hundred bucks last year on online education (mainly codeschool and peepcode). The stuff I've paid for has the following feature ... some part of the education is given away for free. For other parts of more advanced parts, there is a fee. I guess this is a variant on the fremium model. This is how you get my hard earned cash :)

Regarding a price point ... I don't have a huge hesitation dropping $5 or 10 for a 1 hour screencast. More than that makes me think.


Thanks for the reply. It seems peepcode is just video lessons - signup, review and try your best at it. I'm looking to actually make a community here where I put up video lessons but also interact with my students to help them become better.


Why not just set up a skillshare class and find out exactly what people want directly? They would take care of the distribution for you, and so you can just figure out the content of the experiment.


This is what I was going to suggest. There are already other people offering courses on UI/UX there, as well.


I would. Make it like Railscasts and charge similarly and I would subscribe today. I would suggest very concrete lessons designed around a specific task. 5-10 minute lessons with a comments section and source code on github. Make it where I can login using my github account.. I would follow the railscast pricing model as well. Free + a Pro plan. Railscast's system is awesome. I would follow what has been proven successful. Good luck!


Thank you - much appreciated!


Check out http://teamtreehouse.com/ as a basic business model that's similar and works.


I (a web developer) wouldn't. There's so much free info online I couldn't imagine paying for it.

Also, I'm not convinced good UI/UX can be taught.


I agree that there is an abundance of information online. Its that abundance that took me YEARS to fully grasp design and get to where I am now.

I am confident I can help others learn design much faster than trying to sort through all of the tutorials and tips online (which is a ton of trial and error).


There's so much that CAN be taught about UX. It's a skill like any other. The problem with all the information available out their is that it's disjointed, often outdated and you have to wade through Tina of crap to find anything useful.


I already do:

http://nathanbarry.com/webapps/ https://peepcode.com/products/design-bundle


How is peepcode working for you? Can you tell me more about how it has benefited you (if it has)?


Your work is pretty amazing. I would suggest a freemium model where you give away a basic tutorial and sell the video/source/1on1. Definitely interested!


Agreed - I plan to give away some free content and help in order to build trust and a community. Thanks for the post.


I would (developer) but it would have to be for a price that I wouldn't think twice about, 4.99 or 9.99 maybe per month.


Maybe the railscast model could work for you.

The only issue I see is there is an inundation of YouTube tutorials in this area.


In-person, or one-on-one via Skype or e-mail - yes. Just online materials or newsletters - no.


After seeing your work, I can safely say I wouldn't mind paying you to teach me design.


Thank you - I'd love to help others and teach them what I've learned / built up over the years.


No, sorry. I try to learn by observation and as a developer that's enough for me.




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