Announcing the DistilledU public beta

Almost a year ago, I made a pitch to the exec team at Distilled. The tweet-length version is:

We hire smart people and help them get to the top. We need world-leading training. The way to invest in training is to make it a product

I strongly believe in learning over training. Personal development beats development plans any day. Especially as we grow, we need to get better at recording “the Distilled way”. We need to make it available in the best format we can to give our motivated people the best possible chance. My argument for turning it into a product was that external paying customers will drive us to build the best thing we can.

Out of this seed of an idea grew DistilledU. Some of you might remember that we started work earlier this year on the platform. When we announced it, with a few tweets and a blog post, over 1,500 people registered their interest. We have gradually been inviting those people into a private beta. Over 20% have registered for a free account and a little over 16% of those are now paying subscribers. We know that people want a curated, trustworthy place to get training. Now all we need to do is live up to the potential!

We are taking a step closer - today I’m pleased to announce that we are entering public beta. That means you can sign up and get free access to the keyword research module and you have the opportunity to subscribe at the discounted beta price of $20 / month. We have lots of plans to improve content and functionality (see below) - if you subscribe today you will lock in a permanent 50% discount on any price plans we release.

DistilledU screenshot

If you can spare 30 seconds, I’d love it if you would take a look at our short demo video to get a glimpse inside the beta:

Modules available so far

To date, we’ve published modules on:

  • Keyword research (free when you register)
  • On-page optimization
  • Technical SEO
  • Link analysis
  • Competitor research

We’re working at the moment on:

  • How search engines work
  • Information architecture and site structure

If you’d like to influence the roadmap of modules, you can vote on our upcoming modules over on the public roadmap. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Running lean

You wouldn’t believe the passion there is for this project internally at Distilled. Last week we were debating how closely we were going to stick to the Lean Startup methodology we love and get the product in the public’s hands even though there is still so much we want to do. Duncan kicked off the discussion. Over 50 comments later, here we are:

lean startup discussion

Although I am a fan of beautiful products and big launches, I am coming to love the data-driven nature of the lean startup. One small example - based on feedback from early users about the importance of making the reading experience top-notch, we had an internal brainstorm on examples of beautifully readable websites:

readability discussion

Personally, I feel like it is looking amazing from this perspective.

Features coming soon

One of the features we are hoping to launch soon is interactive modules that let you try out your new skills and give you immediate feedback on your progress (a little like a codecademy for online marketing). Although this isn’t live yet, you can see a demo in the short video below (and you should sign up here if you’d like to hear when we roll out new features):

More reading

Skipped to the end? Here are some useful links to give you everything you might need to know:


Probably the most important part of this whole experience is getting feedback. We’d love to hear what you think - in the comments below, by email or via the feedback links on every page of our site. Happy learning!

Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. Will is part...   read more

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  1. This is an awesome idea. Have you guys considered offering badges to folks who have completed the class as a bit of linkbait?


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  2. Will Critchlow

    Heh. Yes - we have public profile pages, badges and all kinds of fun gamification in the backlog of ideas. Hopefully we'll roll out some fun stuff soon...

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  3. Quick Q. I know this may sound stupid. Does the 50% lock in go for any DistilledU service, or just the module you sign up for? Thanks.

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  4. Will Critchlow

    At present, we are only offering a single package - $20 / month for access to all modules (down from $40 / month anticipated launch price).

    We are promising that anyone who signs up now will get a 50% discount on any future price plans we roll out while they continue subscribing.

    I hope that makes sense.

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  5. Hey,

    This is a great service by distilled and i think they are providing one of the best SEO services and training in the whole world.
    May i know that do you teach all kind of link building methods or do you just concentrate on the above mentioned things ?



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  6. Ben

    AWESOME!!!! I have been waiting for this since you mentioned it a while back. Thought I had signed up via email for updates? Anyway, I'm in! Thanks so much for doing this for the SEO community. I think it will really help make a distinction from people playing with SEO and true SEO developers. Exposing what is the true craft from what is crap.

    I for one want to learn the craft.

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  7. Hi Will Critchlow,
    Thanks for sharing this nice post !
    Google Analytics will definitely create a whirl in the web world with its new features of public road map and interactive sessions.

    Thanks again

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  8. Kris

    I signed up :) Am in India at the moment training up my guys.. This is perfect!!

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  9. Will Critchlow

    Hi Saif - you can see the upcoming modules we have planned here:

    Ben - I don't know why you didn't end up on the pre-launch email list - I've just updated your email preferences now so you should get any future emails.

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  10. Kris

    How long does moderation take? Seems Ben got in with moderation after me?

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  11. Will Critchlow

    Hey Kris,

    Sorry about that - I think after someone has got through moderation once, their subsequent comments are automatically approved which is why Ben's appeared straight away...

    Thanks for signing up!

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  12. Kris

    Ahh.. that makes sense! Thanks for the reply Will :)

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  13. Kris

    Here is some feedback so far:
    My Australian guy has said that he has learnt a lot. Even though he's reading SEOmoz every day the beauty in this is that its succinct so hes getting the right lessons. So far he's picked up on new ways and methods for onpage keyword use and keyword research :)

    Good work distilled!!

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  14. Kris

    There isn't a quick submit feedback button. So things like typos and bugs can't be submitted easily. Also you said to submit by email... what email? The info one?

    online orums

    on Additional considerations for title tags, URLs and meta descriptions.

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  15. Jasmin

    I signed up for the beta, but I didn't get any notifications too. :) But I'm happy it's already launched! Until when is the 50% rate available?

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  16. Will Critchlow

    @Kris: you can use the orange "feedback" link on the left hand side of the website for now. We will be setting up better ways soon! Thanks for the feedback - we appreciate it.

    @Jasmin: sorry you didn't get the notification - glad you found the discounted period anyway. I'm not sure when we will be coming out of beta. The discounted rate will be available to new sign-ups until then. Anyone signing up at the discounted rate is locking in the discount though.

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  17. Will Critchlow

    @Brad - did you see we launched profile pages yesterday? I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying: watch out for embeddable badges coming soon...

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