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!

About the author
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. For the...   read more