Babbel is a learning company inside and out. We believe that anyone can pick up a second (or third or fourth) language, so our days are spent refining and adding to our courses to make them even more effective, motivating and communicative for you. And every day we ourselves figure out how to do that better.
Babbel will always be evolving into the best possible version of itself, and continuing to grow as we have requires the team to learn by doing. Since getting started in 2008, the platform has grown to over one million active subscribers. As the world’s first successful language learning app, we not only had to devise from scratch a sound methodology to teach languages via a mobile app, but also overcome the numerous technical, logistical and even cultural challenges that come with growing and scaling so quickly. Because there’s no established path to follow, many employees’ careers have similarly taken interesting and unexpected directions.
At Babbel, diversity is one of our core values, and also one of our biggest strengths. That’s why we feel a responsibility to do our part in improving the situation of the many refugees that have made the difficult journey to Europe in recent months.
As you may already know, the team at Babbel has been working on an app for the new Apple Watch for some time. Now we’re ready to share the details.
“Apple Watch is the most personal device we have ever created.” – Tim Cook
As announced on Apple.com, Babbel will be the first language learning app available on the Apple Watch. The Babbel Watch app enables users to learn new words in real situational contexts in a fun and effective way.
If you’re learning a language at the moment, take a second to consider this question: why?
Recently, the question has been framed in economic terms. Freakonomics began it with a podcast that questioned the financial benefits of language learning. Over at the Economist’s Prospero blog, Robert Lane Greene argued that the numbers were higher than had been estimated and varied greatly depending on language.
It’s a debate worth having – albeit a bit sad that we reduce the beauty (and unquantifiable benefits) of learning a new language to an economic return on investment.
But how decisive is this factor? For which age groups and nationalities? What are the main reasons that make people want to learn a language?
Gregory Simon in his natural habitat – Photo by James Lane for Babbel.com
One sunny Wednesday morning in March, Gregory Simon was getting ready for work. He showered, dressed, threw back a cup of coffee and left.
A couple of hours later he arrived in the office, looking rather frazzled.
“My bike just got nicked!”
With our Babbel birthday/ Christmas party last Friday, the weekend was slightly shorter for our 110 Babbel colleagues than usual. We had lots of fun celebrating Babbel’s six birthday and its numerous milestones achieved so far. In this video you can see what some colleagues of our team remember as a personal highlight of 2013 and they wish Babbel for the future!
by Markus Witte (Co-founder)
Hard to believe: the sixth year since we went online with Babbel is here. We are once again happy and proud to confirm that it was our most successful one yet. So much has happened in this last year: there was a financing round of over 10 million US Dollars, 45 great new people joined the Babbel team, including several experienced managers. In addition a new office, two new learning languages (Norwegian and Danish), new apps for two platforms (iOS and Android) – and a new logo! But above all millions of new users, for whom this is all happening.
What started with four founders in a small office in a cramped old apartment in Berlin-Kreuzberg, has grown into a buzzing hive of over 100 full-time employees. And there are also, believe it or not, more than 150 authors, pedagogues, editors, translators, narrators and supporters who work freelance while maintaining other professions such as teachers, musicians and actors. Added together that is a huge number of people, who are all creating Babbel together.
We feel that this is an excellent reason to celebrate. And since January is from the outset for us the liveliest month (through your and our many good intentions), we have even delayed Christmas somewhat. So, on Friday we will be rocking around the Christmas tree. And then it continues with the seventh year, for which we again have a lot planned. Some things shall be a surprise, and other things will go live before we discuss them. However the following are certain: there will be Russian, our first learning language that does not use the Latin alphabet. And we intend to whip the Review Manager into shape. And also learn a lot of new things ourselves. And continue to have lots of fun. And create.
As of today Babbel presents itself with a completely new look: new colors, new shapes – and a new logo. For months our team of designers, brand experts and representatives from design agencies toiled from dawn till dusk on logo ideas. Since Babbel’s beginnings we have continued to evolve and develop, and the new logo with the “human plus” reflects this development. We wanted to display the same recognisable Babbel design across all our platforms, from the website to the mobile apps.
Why? I hear you ask. Darjan Salimi and Ray Pham explain everything in an interview with Babbel copywriter Nina Pollex.
Babbel suddenly looks very different. What’s the reason for this so-called “redesign”?
Darjan: The time was just right. We started off really small in 2007 and are today one of the fastest growing startups in the world. A lot has changed. And also, since the introduction of the new mobile apps, we’ve been wanting to create a consistent design across all platforms. Babbel has grown up, it has become a brand. And we want to also show that visually.
The new colors catch your eye immediately. What else has changed?
Ray: The entire user interface is now much cleaner and clearer and therefore much easier to use. That was important for us. Users should be able to navigate quickly and intuitively on our page. The design is flatter, more modern and I think has also become more aesthetic. And of course there’s a whole new logo! But that is just the beginning. Design is always a fluid process, and we still have a long and exciting road ahead.
Why didn’t you simply stick with the old, familiar logo?
Ray: The old logo looked youthful and playful with the rounded letters and the quotation marks. We had the feeling that it no longer suits us. Learning should be fun, but it’s more than just a game. It is something that in the best case can have an everyday influence and impact on the user’s whole life. That’s what the plus in the logo stands for. It looks more professional and more serious. It is mature, just like Babbel. We don’t have to hide, and that’s what we’re showing with this logo.
Can you tell us a little more about the significance of the Plus in the logo?
Ray: I do believe speaking a new language is always a Plus. We want everyone to have the opportunity to expand his or her knowledge with Babbel. This is the positive impact that is depicted in the Plus. The Plus immediately reminds the onlooker of the human form, and symbolises the fact that we put the learners and their needs at the very heart of the product. The Plus is a “Human Plus”.
How long have you worked on the project and how did the idea come about?
Darjan: It was actually launched in the summer, while we were working on the development of our new apps for iOS. We had to change a lot, to optimize Babbel for small screens, also the design. But the interim results instantly felt so good that we quickly decided to bring the new design to all other platforms.
What was the biggest challenge?
Darjan: We were working simultaneously on three construction sites: the apps, the web page and the trainers within the courses. It wasn’t easy to coordinate everything in such a narrow time frame. Everybody helped. It was a team effort, and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.
Ray: For me, the biggest challenge was the new logo. We wanted to create the best Babbel logo of all time; one which gives a new face to babbel while remaining accessible for our regular customers. Despite all the changes, we haven’t forgotten who we are. Babbel’s heart is still the same.
What does Babbel mean for you personally?
Ray: It’s such a great feeling to learn something new that it can give you a huge amount of energy. Babbel gives you exactly this feeling and in the best possible way.
Darjan: For me, Babbel is a success story that shows that you can achieve a lot with a good idea and plenty of effort. And I’m glad to be a part of it.
The facts about the new look at a glance:
– New logo — more serious, can be used more flexibly, more recognisable
– New design of website and apps – more modern, clearer, easier to use
– Duration of the project: about half a year
The following were involved:
– Five Babbel designers from five different countries
– Nerd Communications