The new Thought Industries Academy just dropped, and it’s looking pretty slick if we say so ourselves! We’ve been excited to unveil the new look and feel of the learner experience, made possible through the innovative and headless solution Helium, which we launched in 2022.
This new Academy experience was the result of our collaboration with talented Verified Helium Partner, Enable Education. “No matter how sophisticated an LMS is, there are always customers who need to integrate something new to customize it in order to meet their specific learning and business objectives,” says Ben Zimmer, CEO & Founder at Enable Education.“ To be one of the first to test out this shiny new toy – which we see as a huge competitive advantage for us and our clients – was super exciting! Enable’s web development team successfully leveraged Helium to rapidly produce the new, streamlined, and highly customized Academy page – and we’re thrilled with the result!”
We sat down with Senior Director of Customer Education, Philip Cahill, to discuss the process of ‘drinking our own champagne’ — using our customizable headless LMS solution, Helium, to design this brand new customer learning experience.
What did you like most about using Helium to build the new Academy?
PC: What I love about Helium is that it reduces the complexity involved in working with developers and designers to get a site up and running, and just shrinks down the amount of time it takes to get to launch. We like to say that with Helium, you can build without limits, and that’s exactly what it felt like. From our imagination into fruition, with no constraints!
Did your team have any specific goals when you embarked on the Academy overhaul?
PC: Bottom line, we are education software. That means our customers need to be getting the same experience using our Academy as they expect their own learners to receive using theirs. We were acutely aware that people would be looking at us as an example of what they could achieve, and so we wanted to show what’s possible by using Helium.
I knew that after the demo, the Academy could well be the first major touchpoint where users get hands-on interaction with Helium. The team wanted to give that feeling of “Wow, this is what potential is out there, and we can make it happen now.”
As someone who used Helium to bring a project to launch, what was the process like?
PC: The biggest difference for us was the time to outcome. Building a website is never easy, but with Helium we took the process from 6 months down to 4-5 weeks from designing PDF wireframes all the way to implementation of the code.
Quicker time to delivery has a direct impact on the bottom line, and Helium is full of tools to make that happen. This template is a great example, a Figma resource which can be used to create a Helium blueprint yourself. It uses drag and drop tools, and then you can simply hand it to the developer. Give it a try!
Tell us about the new Academy. What’s different?
PC: It’s all about ease of access and great design. Helium makes it easier for designers and developers to work together, which historically has been a pain point. Traditionally, designers either build the mockups, and are then met with constraints when developers try to translate that to the screen, or they view the system first, and then create limited mockups to match. Both of these have a lot of friction. Our new Academy really shows what can be achieved when there are no constraints.
We spoke to designers and gave them a few guidelines, broadly speaking. We knew we wanted Frequently Asked Questions, we knew we didn’t want a static header, and we knew that we wanted something that stands out and looks different from anything we’ve ever tried before. Apart from that, we could give them total creative freedom, and I’m sure you’ll agree they knocked it out the park!
It looks amazing! What should customers expect to experience when they log into the Academy?
PC: We’ve built something with Helium that is already having an impact on customers, and also on our internal teams. After all, that’s Customer Education, right? Boosting success for customers and also the business!
Our Academy can provide access to different formats of fundamental customer training without the need for the complexity of professional training. This is deeply tied to our overarching education strategy. When the Academy is intuitive and easy to access, and when it has that “wow factor”, our customers can grow with self-serve education, because they don’t have to spend time searching for what they need, or calling CSMs. That’s why we put new content front and center, making it easy to find and consume, as well as included featured content and FAQs to support learners with their most common needs.
When learning opportunities come naturally to the customer, this has a direct impact on the business. Onboarding is streamlined, product adoption becomes smoother, and CSMs aren’t spending time having repetitive conversations or directing customers to the same resources time and time again. Instead, they are freed up to have more strategic conversations which add greater value.
What impact do you see Helium having on Thought Industries customers?
PC: The sky really is the limit, but I would say branding is one huge benefit. Having your own branding on someone else’s software is really tough to achieve, and yet with Helium it is so much easier. Your learning experiences will match your brand completely, and feel like a seamless part of your company, rather than simply uploading your logo or color scheme to someone else’s design. With ultimate freedom, the only constraint is your own brand guidelines!
After the initial build, Helium makes ongoing updates and changes quick and easy to implement, with content management tools to update information. No need to call in developers every time a great new piece of copy occurs to you in the middle of the night.
Down the line, I’m excited to see how the Helium community will grow, allowing anyone to benefit from Helium Widgets and limitless open-source components that can be easily incorporated into their own design and development. I can picture a world of opportunity opening up as a result of the Helium library, built by experts within Thought Industries or from the wider community. This is part of the flexibility of Helium, how teams can start from scratch and build without limits, but also lean on their peers for inspiration or support where necessary. In that way, the Helium community will provide a starting point for everyone, from a novice to an expert.
Want to see what we’ve been working on? Check out the new Academy right here.