the synyster gates school

Product Design, Art Direction, Branding
Boss Sauce Creative

The first-of-its-kind guitar academy and community founded by legendary guitarist, Synyster Gates and his father, Papa Gates.

Synyster Gates School Desktop

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."

The Brand behind the 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.

The Synyster Gates School Logo Design
Synyster Gates Logo Designs
Captivating beyond the celebrity

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.

Synyster Gates UX Site Map
Site map for platform launch
Two Kinds of Guitarists

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:

Persona 1: Jordan, 30. Long-time Avenged Sevenfold and Synsyter Gates fan. I’m here because of Synyster & Papa Gates specifically and having that “presence” throughout the website will be important to me.

+ Learning Style: Pick-and-choose videos that interest me when I have time to play. The ability to filter videos to quickly find something that piques my interest is important to me. I’d also love to hear from Syn directly about his thoughts on certain lessons or suggestions since I trust and respect him.
Persona 2: Mike, 42. Interested in learning to play guitar better and have heard good things about The Synyster Gates School. I’m familiar with the brand name, but mostly here for the content.

+ Learning Style: I’m treating this like a replacement to guitar lessons so having a “path” or structure to the lesson plans is important to me. Finding out more about Synsyter and Papa Gates will likely impress me, but the content and it’s ability to improve my skills is most important to me. I need to get something from The SGS that I’m not getting from other online resources
The Synyster Gates School UX
Wireframes for Lesson Track UX on Mobile device
The Synyster Gates School Mobile UI

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 Synyster Gates School Profile UX

Profile User Flow

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.

Key Features

+ Papa & Syn Chat-Style Announcements: Adds a personalized feel that will excite and entice the mega-fan to return often to see what’s new.

+ SGS: Directly from Syn: For the mega-fan, having a place to find content that Syn put out himself will be really exciting and keep them coming back for more.

+ Tracks and Collections: Sorting videos into a way that feels like a lesson plan will allow users to visualize progression.

+ "Watched" Video Indicator: Will help accomplish the feeling of progression and track where the user is at within a lesson plan.

+ Favoriting: For the user who picks-and-choses, having a way to denote a video they want to come back to will be important.

+ Access to Supplemental Information from Lesson: Tagging forums and connecting specific commentary/threads to a specific lesson will be a huge benefit. As a serious learner, this user wants support from both the community, The School, and would likely be interested in any auxiliary information (PDFs, etc). This information needs to be organized and relevant to keep this user engaged.
Photos of The Synyster Gates School website
The REsults

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.

Photo of Fan Reactions to The Synyster Gates School on Facebook
Reactions of Launch on Facebook