He attributes much of his success as an entrepreneur to youth—or at least a young attitude. “It’s useful to be young because you’re pretty clueless, so you try things that more experienced people wouldn’t try. It works better if it’s a free-for-all.”
Von Ahn says it’s mentality, and not necessarily age, that makes the difference. “When just starting out, it’s good to not have the mindset they teach you in an MBA program.”
The biggest “happy mistake” von Ahn made? Creating a mobile app at all. His initial plan was to build a website for language education, and that’s what his team of engineers set out to build. Luis decided to add a mobile app on a whim, expecting it to be an extra feature for the core product. The “extra feature” caught on. Now, 80% of Duolingo’s 25 million users are coming from mobile, so many that Apple named Duolingo free iPhone App of the year for 2013.
“That was all completely unexpected,” says von Ahn.
It used to be that if you start a restaurant, you have to think about how to sell your food,” says von Ahn. “But things are different now. Even if you have no clear business model, the ones that find something that people really want and solve a problem will be the most successful.
It’s not often that science is conclusive in their findings. However, sliders (sometimes named carrousels) seem to be one topic on which it is. There’s literally not one study that I’ve found that says sliders are a good idea. I often point people to http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ when wanting to explain why not to use a slider. This simple website does an awesome job at showing the statistics as well as trigger the annoyance sliders usually evoke.
Lets look at some of the statistics:
- Only 1% of the people actually click on a slide, which almost always was the first slide;
- People simply ignore your slider, because it triggers banner blindness;
- They slow down your site, negatively impacting your SEO and conversion rate(!!);
- They don’t always work well on mobile devices,
- They push your content down, which Google recently mentioned yet again is notsmart;
- It dilutes your message, because suddenly there are multiple messages on your homepage.