The Creation of Decks and the Future of Memrise

UPDATE: Since publishing this announcement, we conducted further analysis on how community-created courses are learned in mobile. Upon careful consideration of this analysis, we have decided to develop a Decks app in the coming months, which will include an offline mode.

On Tuesday, we announced that we will shortly be launching Decks, a sister site to Memrise, to be the home for all of our community-created courses, which we will migrate from the main Memrise site and apps.

Memrise will afterwards feature just the courses we develop ourselves and the rich learning experiences associated with those.

Decks, meanwhile, will work just as the Memrise website does now, but exclusively for community-created courses, providing a dedicated site for course creators and learners that is separate from the main Memrise product.

After the announcement, we have been listening to your feedback. We know the news has been a source of frustration to many of you, and although we tried to be clear and transparent in our communication, we realise there are a few things we should clarify more. We hope to address many of your questions and worries below.

Why are we separating Memrise and Decks?

Since we focused Memrise on language learning in 2014, the vast majority of our growth and innovation has come from and within the language courses that we develop ourselves. These courses depend upon a tight integration of product design, learning-tech and rich multimedia learning content.

Since focusing on our own language courses, we’ve grown twenty times over, and a very small proportion of learning on our mobile apps now happens on community-made courses.

The learning experiences that have driven that growth and supported our team are and will continue to be very different from our community-created content. The differences will only accelerate in the future, as we enrich, improve and diversify the language learning experiences in the main Memrise app.

The product-design, infrastructure and technical systems needed for our own courses and our community-created courses are becoming ever more different, and maintaining both kinds of experiences on a single platform creates many difficulties. It slows and complicates our development of new experiences, it holds back our product design, and it can introduce bugs and confusion for learners on our community-created courses.  

In a sense, we have been maintaining two quite different products in one to the disadvantage of both. And so we have decided to give each its rightful space.  

Why Decks?

We decided to create Decks to provide a long term home for our community-created content that can sit alongside the main Memrise product, allowing the latter to flourish and the former to be maintained indefinitely.

In creating Decks, we wanted first of all to honour our commitment to users who have been with us for a very long time and our respect and appreciation for the community-created genre of Memrise we created together. We wanted to ensure that this content is available forever.

We love the quality and spirit of our community-created courses, the fact that they are a bastion for less commonly learned languages, and the diversity of topics and use-cases to which they are able to add value. It is painful for us to remove these experiences from our main app, but we are proud to support this content in Decks.  

Why no mobile app for Decks?

The decision to create Decks as a website only is down to resources (though the site will work smoothly on your mobile web-browser). As much as we are growing, we are nonetheless very resource-constrained, and we decided not to plan for a Decks app or offline mode. As some of you have commented, we did come to this decision after a careful analysis of how and where community-created content is being learned, which is overwhelmingly online.

Why no monetisation?

Focusing all our resources in developing the Memrise apps and website will also allow us to maintain Decks as a free website. We won’t actively invest in creating new learning features for it, but we also don’t have plans to make money from our learners on Decks.

The purpose of this split, again, is to allow us to move fast on developing the main Memrise product for the vast core of our learners, whilst honouring those people who do still learn community-made courses.

If we opt to try to monetise Decks in the future, we imagine that it would be in a way that still keeps the platform free to use, or so that it rewards content creators – but this is totally outside our current, focused plans.

Where is Memrise headed?

Since this move is to enable and empower our creation of the best possible version of the core Memrise experience, it is worth saying a few words about our exciting plans for that future.

At the heart of our intention since we founded Memrise in 2010 has been the desire to enrich human consciousness through learning, and to create the best and most emotionally engaging learning experiences that we can to enable that goal.  

Though Memrise is more than 8 years old, and now counts more than 40 million learners, we believe the majority of our work lies before us, and that we can deliver over the coming years a dramatically better, more entertaining and more effective language learning experience than anything currently digitally available.

But for the coming years, the focus is language: for beginners, but extending in time through more advanced content. We’ve spent hundreds of hours talking with our community of learners, and we’ve heard how you want to rapidly gain real-world abilities and connect emotionally to learning experiences. To this end, we plan to radically diversify the learning experience on Memrise, inventing many new learning technologies and experiences, full of joy and the richness of the real world. We hope these bold moves will lead not only to many millions more people successfully speaking a foreign language but also to their enjoying the world more as a consequence.

So expect lots of bold innovation from us in the coming months and years. We won’t always get these moves right, of course, but we hope you’ll come to love how Memrise will evolve and we thank you for your partnership and custom as we get there.