Behind the Knife

A group of five surgeons started a content library to share their expertise with others. Now the largest surgery podcast in the United States, Behind the Knife has become like the Kahn Academy for surgeons. It helps up-and-coming doctors pass the boards, and helps experienced surgeons stay sharp!

BTK UX design primary screens


Why Behind the Knife?

A group of surgeons wanted to create something with the quality of a top online learning app, but specific to the field of surgery. Their existing WordPress site wasn't getting the job done anymore because it couldn't handle the variety of content types from podcasts and audiobooks to PDFs and ebooks.

They needed a custom application that could host a diverse, user-friendly content library. They also needed this library to have the premium look and feel their users would expect after the learning experience in medical school.

Finally, they needed to monetize. They aimed to achieve this by gating some content behind a paywall. The team also needed a way to marry the physical and digital realms with ecommerce, offering unique learning add-ons such as a physical suture practice kit to go with virtual training modules.

BTK web app UI design

Step into the SolutionLab.

Designli's proprietary product roadmapping initiative, the SolutionLab, helped Behind the Knife take a fledgling digital business to new heights.

The existing WordPress site was reaching its limitations, and a mobile app seemed necessary for the future of the business. Adding premium content modules, which are now live, was vital for monetization, but the upgrades couldn't interrupt service for existing users.


Iterating on an existing product.

Behind the Knife wanted a serious facelift without affecting continuity. It started with a thorough business analysis and user analytics review. We learned which devices users preferred and highlighted sticky points in the platform.

Clear analytics illuminated key pain points as well as a path forward. Identifying the existing product's strengths and weaknesses helped us build a custom application to serve the organization's business goals.


Ecommerce and paywall solutions.

The group already knew they had something worth paying for. They had previously sold courses on Teachable, but the monetization model was flawed.

Users had to bounce from WordPress to Teachable to pay a one-time fee. There was no way to pay per episode, Teachable could only handle certain file types, and the third-party platform took a massive cut. A custom payment workflow helped BTK solve all of these problems.

UX/UI Design & Prototype.

For such visual content, the custom web application and mobile app had to be visually stunning. Users had to be wowed by an experience they couldn't find in their textbooks. Behind the Knife had to facilitate learning with a clear, intuitive, and easy UX/UI design.

BTK video content mobile app UI design
BTK premium books UI design
BTK UI design for favorites on mobile app

Dedicated Product Team.

After a thorough UX/UI design process to build trust, Behind the Knife elected to pursue a year-long development contract. This engagement allowed for an agile process with regular releases along the way.

Designli assigned a full-time dedicated software development team of 3.5 people. This included a cross-platform mobile app developer, frontend developer, and backend developer. A fractional product owner with UX/UI design expertise kept all of the work on track.

The agile process allowed Behind the Knife to make scope changes along the way without incurring additional costs. They had their dedicated development team and could allocate those resources as they saw fit.

Upon reaching a satisfactory point, they were able to scale down at will and drop into a maintenance plan. Pausing once the MVP reached a good point allowed Behind the Knife to save costs while awaiting market feedback. Once they identify needs for additional feature development, they can scale up again at will.

Feature Spotlight: Marketing Website.

One of the challenges for Behind the Knife was marrying its online presence to its custom app. The various content types – podcasts, video series, courses, ebooks, and so on – all needed to be indexed for SEO. Focusing on a search-friendly frontend helped attract organic traffic.

BTK app marketing site UI design

Feature Spotlight: Native Mobile Experience.

Right from the login area, students can access premium features and the mobile app. Paid students can create playlists, add listening notes, and more as they adapt the content to their learning needs.

Because premium content is built in a cross-platform language, BTK can deploy across iPhone and Android from a single codebase. Users can track progress, picking up where they left off on other devices. They can even use native features like lock screen notifications.

Native mobile experience UX design

Feature Spotlight: Admin Portal.

Where do you draw the line between custom code and easy administration? It wouldn't be reasonable for the team at Behind the Knife to pay for development work every time they added new content.

That's why we built them an admin panel – complete with key metrics and a course builder –  instead. Now they can handle app admin themselves until they need to spin up a development team for more advanced feature development.

BTK admin portal UX UI design

They commit to learning and understanding our business to provide professional suggestions.[...] It's important for us that our users can see our products on a user-friendly platform that looks cool and doesn't feel like they're just taking a class.

Designli has exceeded our expectations; our project is complex, and we came to them with a lot of ideas, but they’ve been able to understand our needs and are building a fantastic design with an organized and user-friendly interface.


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