Wouter de Bres—Product Designer

Co-founding and Building Gibbon: Playlists for Learning

In 2013 together with Joeri Djojosoeparto and Petar Radošević I started a company called Gibbon. With Gibbon everyone could create simple playlists for learning. The idea started when young designers and programmers reached out to us with the question where do I start to learn design/programming? We crafted emails with links to the best free online resources to explain certain topics. When we discovered these lists were highly appreciated, we decided to build a product and company around this simple idea; playlists for learning.

Learn from each other

Something that resonated with the tech community was that everyone can learn from each other, and you can learn anywhere, from any source. All you need is someone to guide you through it. With a simple browser extension teaching others became as simple as clicking a button when you read or watch something that can be valuable for others to learn a ceratin topic.

Share your knowledge

We quickly discovered that the curator of the playlists played a big role in the decsion for people if they would follow a playlist to learn something, hence we focussed to make profiles easily sharable and make the student count a social proof of your trustworthyness.

Creating content

The nr.1 most requested feature on Gibbon was creating content. We believed everything you need to know about a new topic could be found for free somewhere online, but still people felt they needed a way create content on Gibbon. After a lot of discussion we decided to build a full text editor in our product. We wanted to make the editor as simple as possible yet as powerful as possible. I'm still really proud on the the execution of this feature by Thomas Offinga and myself. But this was one of my biggest lessons in product development and still influences my product decisions today, becasue no one ever used the feature. It still baffles me that so many users can _think_ they want a feature, but in reality, they don't use it. What a user asks for, is not always what a user needs.

The library

Gibbon started as a product focussed on designers and programmers, but quickly our library grew with many different topics that we would never have expected on our platform. Each time we noticed a certain area or topic contained enough quality playlists we "opened" a new topic in the library. We were the most proud on our science section where you could learn about exo-planets to Algebra. The feeling we truly helped people progress in their skills and share their knowledge was very full-filling.

In 2016 Gibbon was acquired by Degreed.

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