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How to Build a Successful Learning App?

Olga Gubanova


May 16, 2024

During the pandemic, educational apps achieved a remarkable $7 billion in revenue, and the trend continues to grow at a promising rate of 8.9% annually.

Educational apps represent a new level of learning because they offer:

  1. Personalization: Apps tailor content to each learner’s pace and preferences, enhancing effectiveness over static websites or books.
  2. Interactivity: Quizzes, flashcards, and interactive lessons make learning engaging and memorable.
  3. Progress Tracking: Apps monitor progress and offer feedback, keeping learners motivated.
  4. Real-time Feedback: Immediate feedback helps learners correct mistakes and solidify concepts.
  5. Community: Forums and groups create supportive learning communities.
  6. Notifications: Reminders keep learners on track, unlike books or websites.
  7. Multimedia: Videos, audio lessons, and graphics enhance understanding and retention.
  8. Offline Access: Downloadable content allows learning without the internet.
  9. Gamification: Points, badges, and leaderboards make learning fun and motivating.
  10. Integration: Apps streamline learning by combining resources and tools in one place.

Discover more key features for educational apps by reading our insightful article here.

However, the market is competitive, with around 500,000 educational apps available on Google Play and Apple App Store.

How can an educational app stand out in a crowded market?

In this article, our team will share insights into creating a successful educational mobile resource and discuss developing an app for influencer Daria Hanson, which quickly ranked among the top two best apps.

How to Plan a Learning App: Research-Based Insights

Researching real-world data is key to developing successful educational apps that cater to users' needs and excel in a competitive market.

We compiled data from 150 random educational apps, analyzing their ratings, reviews, downloads, and user feedback. Our analysis revealed several valuable insights.

Distribution of Ratings for Educational Apps

Most apps have ratings between 4 and 5 stars, indicating high-quality standards in this category. New apps should meet user expectations for quality and usefulness.

Analyzing App Ratings and Downloads

We found that apps with higher ratings often have more downloads, showing a positive link between user satisfaction and popularity. However, some highly-rated apps have fewer downloads, possibly due to niche focus or novelty.

Top Categories for Learning Apps

Popular app categories include:

  1. Meditation and Sleep: Focus on mental health. Examples: Headspace, Calm.
  2. Language Learning: Engaging and interactive. Examples: Duolingo, Babbel.
  3. Fitness and Health: Offer workouts and health tracking. Examples: MyFitnessPal, Nike Training Club.
  4. Cognitive Skills: Offer brain games and courses. Examples: Lumosity, Khan Academy.
  5. Task Management: Focus on productivity. Examples: Evernote, Todoist.
  6. Habit Tracking: Promote personal growth. Examples: HabitBull, Streaks.
  7. Relaxation: Reduce stress through relaxation techniques. Examples: Happify, Tide.

User Feedback Analysis and Key Takeaways

Sentiment Distribution of User Reviews for Educational Apps

Many reviews are positive, showing user satisfaction. However, neutral and negative reviews indicate areas for improvement.

  1. Update Issues: Users face problems after updates.
  2. Technical Issues: Crashes and instability frustrate users.
  3. Interface Issues: Users find navigation complicated.
  4. Ads and Payments: Users dislike excessive ads or high costs.

Here's what matters for making a great educational app:

  1. Stability: Ensure app stability and fix technical issues.
  2. Interface: Design a user-friendly interface for easy navigation.
  3. Monetization: Balance monetization with user experience to avoid overwhelming users with ads or high costs.

To learn how to write a brilliant technical specification for your app and cover all the important details, read our article here.

Ensuring Stability in Education Apps: Development Methods That Work

Ensuring the stability of an educational app is crucial, and one of the key factors to achieving this is choosing the right development method. The development methodology shapes how the project progresses, how issues are addressed, and how adaptable the app is to future changes. A good method can help manage risks, ensure high-quality output, and foster effective collaboration.

Here are the main ones to know about:

1. Waterfall Methodology

A step-by-step approach where you finish one stage before moving to the next.

  • Pros: Easy to understand and plan, with clear stages.
  • Cons: It's hard to change things later on, so if something goes wrong, it can be a big deal.

2. Agile Methodology

A flexible approach that focuses on working in small chunks and constantly improving.

  • Pros: You can adapt to change and get regular feedback from users.
  • Cons: If you're not careful, the project can drift off course.

3. Scrum

An Agile approach where you work in short sprints, usually two to four weeks long.

  • Pros: Regular feedback and clear goals for each sprint.
  • Cons: You need a disciplined team, and unexpected changes can disrupt things.

4. Kanban

An Agile approach that focuses on visualizing work and improving workflow.

  • Pros: Continuous delivery and adaptability.
  • Cons: Without clear deadlines, you have to manage the workflow closely.

5. Lean Development

Focuses on delivering value quickly by cutting waste and continuously improving.

  • Pros: It's efficient and customer-focused.
  • Cons: It might take time to implement properly.

6. Spiral Methodology

Combines design and prototyping in stages to manage risks.

  • Pros: Great for risk assessment and adapting to changes.
  • Cons: Can be time-consuming and complicated.

7. Modular Development

You build the app in separate, independent parts, or modules, and then bring them together.

  • Pros: You can focus on one part at a time, making it easier to test and update.
  • Cons: It can be challenging to ensure all modules work well together.

8. DevOps

Integrates development and operations for continuous delivery.

  • Pros: Fast delivery and high-quality output through strong teamwork.
  • Cons: Requires a culture shift and investment in tools.

Choosing the Right Development Method for Learning Apps

Choosing the Right Development Method for Learning Apps

When picking a method, think about your project's size, timeline, team skills, and customer needs. For example:

  • Waterfall works well for straightforward projects with clear requirements.
  • Agile, Scrum, and Kanban are great if you need flexibility and frequent feedback.
  • Lean is good if you're focused on efficiency.
  • Spiral is useful for managing risks and iteratively developing.
  • Modular is ideal for building complex apps in manageable parts.
  • DevOps is best for continuous delivery with a collaborative team.

Ensuring Stability with Modular Development

In the Hanson app, modular development was a great choice because it allowed us to focus on specific features, test them independently, and update them easily. This way, we ensured the app was stable at launch and ready for future improvements. This shows how choosing the right method can make a big difference in your app's success.

However, stability doesn't depend solely on the development method. It's also influenced by several other factors:

  1. Testing: Comprehensive testing throughout development helps identify and fix issues before they affect users. Consistent testing ensures the app remains stable and reliable.
  2. Code Quality: Writing clean, well-structured code enhances stability. Good coding practices make the app easier to maintain and less prone to bugs.
  3. User Feedback: Listening to users and incorporating their feedback can help address issues and improve the app's stability over time.
  4. Infrastructure: The technology stack and infrastructure supporting the app play a role in its stability. Reliable servers, databases, and frameworks contribute to consistent performance.
  5. Maintenance: Regular updates and maintenance are crucial for long-term stability. Addressing bugs and improving features ensure the app remains functional and relevant.

For more recommendations and detailed insights into your upcoming app development, check out our app development calculator.

Creating a User-Friendly Interface for a Learning App

Designing an easy-to-use interface is crucial for any educational app. It affects how users interact with the app and their overall satisfaction. Here's how to get it right:

  1. Understand Your Users: Start by knowing what your users need and like. Talk to them, and test early designs to see what works.
  2. Keep It Simple: Avoid clutter. Focus on what's important. A clean design helps users focus on key features.
  3. Stay Consistent: Use similar styles, colors, and layouts throughout the app. This helps users navigate more easily.
  4. Make It Easy to Navigate: Use familiar icons and clear labels. Make sure users can find what they need quickly.
  5. Design Responsively: Make the app look good on different devices and screen sizes.
  6. Include Accessibility: Ensure your app is usable for everyone, including people with disabilities. Use guidelines like WCAG to help.

How to Design a User-Friendly Interface for Education Apps?

  1. Wireframing: Sketch the layout to plan the structure. This helps you visualize the app.
  2. Prototyping: Build interactive prototypes to test with users. Get early feedback.
  3. Iterative Design: Refine the UI through repeated testing and feedback.

For the Hanson app, we used iterative design. We started with simple sketches, then built prototypes to test with users. We refined the design based on feedback, creating a user-friendly interface that met Hanson's needs and delighted her audience.

How to Monetize a Learning App

How to Monetize a Learning App

Balancing monetization with user experience is crucial to keeping users happy while generating revenue. Here’s how to achieve this balance effectively:

  1. Freemium Model: Offer basic features for free while charging for premium features. This allows users to experience the app before deciding to pay for extra features.
  2. In-App Purchases: Offer optional upgrades, add-ons, or special features within the app. Keep these purchases relevant and valuable to users.
  3. Subscription Model: Provide users with access to content or features for a recurring fee. Make sure the subscription offers ongoing value, such as regular updates or exclusive content.
  4. Advertisements: Use ads strategically to avoid disrupting the user experience. Consider using non-intrusive ad formats like banners or offering ad-free versions for a fee.
  5. Hybrid Approach: Combine multiple monetization strategies, such as offering a free version with ads and a premium version without them. This gives users options based on their preferences.

Unlock more insights on monetizing your educational app by reading our in-depth guide here.


  1. Duolingo: This language learning app uses a freemium model. Users can access basic features for free but pay for premium features like offline access and ad-free experience.
  2. Calm: This meditation app offers a subscription model. Users pay a recurring fee for access to exclusive content and premium features.
  3. Angry Birds: The game uses in-app purchases to offer upgrades and additional levels, enhancing the user experience while generating revenue.

In the Hanson app, we focused on providing value before asking users to pay. We offered basic features for free, allowing users to access Daria Hanson's content. Premium features, like exclusive content and event access, were available for a fee.

Balancing monetization with user experience involves providing value, being transparent about costs, and offering options that align with user preferences. By carefully choosing monetization strategies, apps can generate revenue while keeping users happy, as demonstrated in the Hanson app.

Case Study: Planning and Development Guide for Hanson App

Case Study: Planning and Development Guide for Hanson App

When Daria Hanson approached us with her vision for an app, her goals were clear:

  1. Gather her audience in one place.
  2. Facilitate networking and meetings.
  3. Consolidate her content in various formats and monetize it, allowing users to stay informed about her events.

Research and Strategy

We began with comprehensive market research to analyze similar apps, identifying standout features and understanding what Hanson's audience wanted. Our findings informed our strategy, leading to the creation of four key modules:

  1. Content – Centralizing all of Hanson’s materials.
  2. Events and Networking – Enabling connections among her audience.
  3. Bookstore – Selling related books, including Hanson’s.
  4. Community – Creating a sense of belonging with features like user profiles and personalized greetings.

Development Process

Our modular development approach focused on delivering high-quality components. Each module followed a cycle of:

  1. Development – Building the core functionalities.
  2. Review – Conducting internal evaluations.
  3. Client Testing – Gathering feedback from Hanson.
  4. Bug Fixing – Resolving any issues.
  5. Regression Testing – Ensuring the stability of previous features.
  6. Release – Deploying the module to production.

This approach allowed us to deliver a feature-rich app on schedule.

Launch Strategy and Audience Engagement

Daria Hanson wanted to launch her app for the New Year. We advised her to warm up the audience in advance, letting them know that a special gift—the app—was on the way.

The results speak for themselves. In the first two days of release, we saw an impressive 2,000 registrations. This is remarkable, considering Daria’s channel had only 10,000 subscribers, half of whom were active. The majority of her audience registered right away, demonstrating the app’s appeal. Additionally, the app achieved a significant milestone in the first month, ranking among the top two new apps in the education sector.

We also implemented a release notes document to outline planned features and gather user feedback, aligning with Hanson’s focus on community involvement.

Monetization and Improvements

We intentionally delayed monetization to build user loyalty and address initial issues. After gathering user feedback and resolving bugs, we launched monetization successfully.

Conclusion: Achieving Success with Learning Apps

Developing a successful educational app requires thoughtful planning, user-centric design, and a strategic approach to monetization. By leveraging our experience and insights, we ensure apps that meet users' needs, excel in a competitive market, and achieve success quickly.

At Ptolemay, we've demonstrated our expertise in creating top-performing educational apps, such as the Hanson app, which quickly gained traction and revenue. If you're looking to develop an educational app that resonates with your audience and drives profits from the outset, we'd love to work with you.

Contact us today to discuss your project and see how our proven strategies can turn your vision into a thriving reality.