Synyster "Syn" Gates, the world-renowned guitarist of the heavy metal band, Avenged Sevenfold, saw a hole in the guitar community that he and his father, Papa Gates, had been wanting to fill for years. Up until launching his school, there was no real place for guitarists to go online to learn in a compelling and productive way that also encouraged a platform for folks to share what they know and ask others for help. He wanted to change that and create a new school from the ground up called, "The Synyster Gates School."
Syn and Papa Gates approached my company, Boss Sauce Creative, to define the brand and create a seamless product that encouraged interaction and evoked an inviting learning experience.
The world already knew who "Synyster Gates" was and intrinsically tied him to Avenged Sevenfold, but the school would present the opportunity to create a new brand and legacy. I performed in-depth interviews with Syn, competitive analyses, and presented mood boards and findings before creating an aesthetic that balanced a modern, prestigious online academy with classic, old-school rock & roll grit.
So a user finds the school, they recognize Syn, they love that it's free - their interest is certainly piqued. It was important not to lose them with an overly-complicated lesson plan or too many options at once. We want to guide the user and find the right classes/videos for them, have them interact with other students seamlessly, and overall, have a productive experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Creating user personas allows me to define project goals in a meaningful way. For this project, the stakeholders and I came to the conclusion that there were two main personas and guitar playing styles that should drive the UX process:
Users can see a preview of the content before logging in, but anyone who wants to actually practice with the content has to be a member. I knew everything behind the login wall needed to be exceptional to keep people coming back for more. With our personas in mind, I designed every detail of The Synyster Gates School with the goal of creating a community that would continue to build, grow and develop more lessons. From connecting relevant forum threads to their associated video, to adding a pseudo chat feature with Syn to feature announcements, I made it my mission to find little ways that would make a big difference in the school's overall experience.
The intimacy of the community and encouragement to become the teacher and share your knowledge was extremely important to our team and we felt would be one of the biggest differentiators on the market.
Playing a behind-the-scenes role in the launch of this platform was incredible. So rarely would we get to see hundreds of thousands of people flock to a product the second it hits. There were no opportunities for a soft launch so predicting potential problems and opinions without giving away the product before it launched was a hurdle I was happy to handle. The outpouring from fans about their excitement and anticipation for the product was truly humbling to watch in real time.