Synner Platform Building

building a community leader in the music education industry

Streaming interface, a lessons interface, a thread view, and mobile thread view.
Synner Platform Building

discovery and goal alignment

the goals

roadmap to the future

We've been a partner with Synner since early 2019 and have been the chief architects and strategists behind the community platform build. This project focused on creating community tools and managing the community itself to guide it towards long-term success. The key things we worked on:

  1. Community rebuild - taking back control over data, upgrading the software, building a lesson system, and a community redesign.
  2. Community strategy and management - implementing a monetization model, hosting frequent events, introducing a gamification system, and increasing overall KPIs.
  3. New brand material for a new vision - handle the transition from Synyster Gates School to Synner and new design language for the platform.
  4. App and streaming - building a native app companion to the community and their own white label streaming solution to support their multi-host streaming network.

strategy-led community build and management

strategy outline

for better success

After years of putting it into practice, we’ve formalized our community model and methodology that we apply to each and every project that we do. The model includes different areas of focus that have become our principles and we let these guidelines lead our strategy process to derive our recommendations for a stronger community future.

  • Foundation - diagram of data flow and server architecture with recommendations on improvements.
  • Experience - brand style guide and perfecting the interface.
  • Wellness - quarterly webinars and on-hand community manager.
  • Onboarding - site tutorial and complete your profile guide.
  • Gamification - achievement system with custom badges, leaderboard, and earning experience points for user levels.
  • Engagement - newsletter, social integration, and curated feeds.
  • Monetization - membership and donation model and advertisements.
  • Optimization - performance audit with page-level and server-level improvements.
Dark mode of Synner homepage with latest stream hero with Synyster Gates and Brian Haner Sr. playing guitar.

setting up a reliable foundation

bringing the data

back in our hands

With much of the data being locked by another party, it was an odd circumstance for both the client and our team to not be given access to critical data such as post content and user data. As an early challenge, our developers had to be clever in how we could get back control with no access and to counter that, we created a scraper tool that would essentially have a bot crawl the website for data and userbase.

With data in hand now, we could successfully import the data from BBPress into XenForo and continue the full community re-build.

platform evaluation

for simplicity and reliability

We did a full audit of the site before implementing our strategy to form a baseline for the project and make sure we had our focuses set correctly from the start. From the audit discovery, we completed:

  • A data flow diagram in order to log each type of software that was being used within the Synner site and how the pieces of software were interacting to form a system.
  • A preliminary performance audit to determine the current site speed and any room for improvement. We continued to monitor performance as we made changes to ensure that they were for the betterment of the platform.
  • A server architecture diagram to understand the current makeup of the site and confirm that this setup matches the needs of the community.

improving the experience

tailored feeds

better content discovery

Part of the new design was improving the user experience for finding content. As is typical with forums, you have to use the forum list and search between individual forums to find what you want, relying heavily on watching content and receiving notifications to remain engaged in the conversation. We wanted to change that with our Feeds system.

With Feeds, we can offer community members a variety of content feeds to choose from and items that receive replies will get bumped back to the top of the list. Users also have the ability to interact with the content within the feed, saving them an extra click. We have found that this experience makes it much easier for users to find the content they’re looking for and also personalize the site experience to their preferences.

boosting the experience

for an intuitive platform

Creating a platform that is simple and easy to use while still having an interface that sets it apart from competitors is critical for user retention and a positive user experience. Synner already had a unique aesthetic and site layout based on industry standards and their own brand preferences, so we made it a goal to further optimize the platform by:

  • Simplifying the forum list.
  • Making adjustments to the site based on community feedback.
  • Developing a brand style guide to ensure consistency across the platform and other associated mediums.
  • Routinely auditing the site for performance to find any areas of improvement.
  • Keeping an open dialog with the community through threads and surveys on any areas they’d like to see improvements.

new community experience


building custom functionality for lessons

setting the groundwork

for an online school

We've been accustomed to developing add-ons and extending community software such as WordPress and XenForo, but Synner was a unique challenge in their need for a full-scale lesson system. Prior, their lessons were similar to YouTube in that it was a video and comment system. With a chance to plan the data structure and UX from the ground up, we focused on student-first utility when building their lessons system.

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, we looked to industry standards like Team Treehouse and Skillshare to derive the critical features and ideal way to display and organize information.

Though complex, it was a necessary bridge to cross to have better content discovery and increased engagement from the students. The new system would allow:

  • Enrolling and completion of lessons.
  • Lessons organized into class tracks and by difficulty.
  • Earning experience points and achievements after lesson completion.
  • Watching and discussing each lesson.
The lessons functionality of the Synner community shown on mobile.

the results

for better learning

After implementing the new lessons system, we surveyed community members to determine happiness with the new software and quality of learning.


Avg. lessons done per month


Users enrolled in a class


Avg. users enrolled per month

“I love being able to mark lessons complete- it sends a dopamine rush to my brain. The lesson content is amazing, especially considering that it's on a site and not live.”


“I love that the dashboard gives you a general overview of what's going on in the community and keeps track of where your progression is. I love progress tracking on lessons.”

what students have said


updating the media gallery

sharing stories

of student progress

A feedback system is crucial for learning guitar. At Synner, a media gallery, or “Riffs” section was already in place and users regularly uploaded videos in order to get feedback on technique, showcase improvement, demo self-written work, and more. Because this system is so important for improving guitar skills, we made sure the user experience was as streamlined as possible by:

  • Developing a lightbox experience to quickly move between videos.
  • Improving content preview to give users information on video title and description.
  • Quick engagement actions for liking, commenting, and viewing content.


Media items


Media reactions


Media comments
Media being commented on in the community on the mobile app.

nurturing a good culture and community leaders

community leaders

creating self-sufficiency

A large part of a community's success is the commitment of its leader. A community leader has celebrity-status among members and often drives engagement on the platform. We wanted to build a community leader who was familiar with the vision of Synner, had a place both within leadership and within the general community population, and had the drive to not only follow the vision, but also take it a step further and implement their own thoughts and ideas for what the community should be. Based on these standards we followed this path to build a leader for the Synner community:

  • Determined room for improvement in current leadership.
  • Formalized processes for everything from enforcing guidelines to running contests.
  • Created a staff forum for ease of contact.
  • Monitored active community members that welcome new users, answer support questions, or communicate with leadership for activities they'd like to help run.

building a culture

supportive users

Mitigating toxicity is vital in creating an inviting ecosystem for your users and allowing them to feel comfortable continuing to contribute to the site. For Synner, we worked to create a positive environment by:

  • Creating community guidelines for accepted and banned content.
  • Offering support to users having technical or interpersonal issues on the site.
  • Training moderators and administrators and formalizing roles through expectations for when to be online and how to enforce the community guidelines.
Community guidelines thread within Synner community.

introducing monetization

building the model

to increase revenue

Before building the monetization model for Synner, we first needed to ask the community how they would be willing to support. We sent out a survey asking if they’d be willing to contribute, how often, and what dollar amount they’d be comfortable with. The results of this survey helped to guide the model and make sure we were introducing a monetization system that fit the capabilities of community members.


for recurring value

The subscription pricing we introduced was informed by the user feedback and also offered monthly or annual options depending on how often the user wanted to pay on a recurring basis. We also introduced gift upgrades, allowing users to send subscriptions to other members of the community. Each of these memberships also came with perks, like a unique status and exclusive achievements in order to provide value back to members.


for one-time support

The user feedback also told us that many users would prefer to support the site as they can and not on a recurring basis, so we introduced a donations system for one-time payments. As we monitored the success of the monetization model, we realized that not as many users utilized the donation system like we anticipated, so we decided to forgo donations and instead focus on increasing subscriptions.

Chart of purchasable earnings showing an increase after monetization was introduced on the site.


Subscription and donation purchases


Purchasable earnings


Monthly top-tier subscriptions


Subscription and donation purchases

care packages

to annual members

To provide value to those who’ve purchased subscriptions, we’ve introduced care packages and send them annually. For the past two years of sending these packages, we’ve:

  • Planned for the care package by determining items to be included in the package and pricing.
  • Produced unique designs for each item and purchased upon design approval.
  • Packaged and shipped by hand.

fostering community engagement

sharing stories

of student progress

Communicating with users and creating a fun and inviting atmosphere is crucial for establishing an active community. Synner was already an upbeat community with members supporting each other with lessons help and tips to improve their skills, so we made it a point to:

  • Run contests related to guitar or learning, as well as general contests such as best meme in order to also focus on forming more personal bonds between community members.
  • Produce webinars to keep members in the loop on community changes.
  • Make sure all questions are answered in a timely manner and no question goes unanswered.
  • Send out a quarterly newsletter to highlight important community happenings.

All of these strategies work together to create an environment where users feel like part of the development of the site and that any post or thread they create will spark an interesting discussion. Since implementing our engagement strategies we have seen increases in user generated content across the community.






Media items



user feedback

from survey results

We ran a survey to get feedback from the community on the new direction, overall happiness on the platform, and any other areas of the site users would like to see improvement.


Think Synner is a great place to learn


Visit Synner at least once a day


Feel comfortable sharing personal growth

“I totally understand that progress can be slow and big changes take a lot of time and resources. But I've seen the birth of this website and all the changes its undergone and its miles from where it started. I have nothing but absolute respect towards everyone involved, and I can't wait to see everything that is to come!”


“I don't think you get enough recognition for all the hard work you do! Congrats and keep up the good work, I imagine it must be really hard to build this site, but you nail it and do it so amazingly! The design is absolutely wonderful and the general experience is so smooth, cool and easy to use! Audentio team, you rock.”

what community members have said


incentivizing users with gamification

looking at the results

from start of project

We introduced a leaderboards and achievements system to reward community members for positive actions and to allow them to join in on some friendly competition. Awarding users for their contributions to the community can provide a sense of accomplishment and encourage further positive actions from that user and leaderboards lets users see how they compare to other users for a variety of content types.


a native community app

mobile-first community

a native app

In building a future-forward community and more members browsing on mobile, it was a natural step to pair Synner with a native community app. Our community app provides the framework but with continued customizations and an integration with our streaming solution, we were able to deliver an app that best suited Synner’s growing brand. The app features functionality such as:

  • Push notifications
  • Swipe gestures
  • In-app purchases
  • In-app live streaming with SynTV
  • Native feeds experience

user reception

from app release

Ahead of the first streaming event, the Synner app was released to the community with an overwhelmingly positive reception.

View on App Store and on Google Play.


Total downloads


Unique ratings


App rating

“It’s finally here !!! I’ve been waiting for this app for ages! The login process is such a breeze and honestly the fastest of ANY apps I use. It’s super easy to navigate and find exactly what you’re looking for.”


“Best app for a guitarist or someone who is interested in guitar. There is much more you can learn about the app but why don't you just get it, hope you enjoy this app, I know I have been!”

what app users have said


building a musician-led streaming network

SynTV live streaming

for real time engagement

Learning guitar and sharing progress with others is at the heart of the Synner community and a streaming platform was needed to bolster that mission, but industry standards like Twitch and YouTube weren’t suitable solutions. What was needed instead was a personalized streaming space that felt exclusive — branded to Synner and without third-party logos — freedom to customize functionality, and more control over monetization.

By building upon our streaming solution, we could give back that control to our client.

  • Stream training for all members with a SynTV channel.
  • Creating SynTV guidelines for stream-specific community rules.
  • Producing graphics to be used for stream scenes.
  • Event coordination through agenda development, scheduling, promotion, and dry runs.
  • Developing terms and conditions for the platform.

supporting the community

with multiple streamers

Since the launch of SynTV, community streamers have run several successful streams covering their interests, whether musical or more personal skills. We’ve had streams focused on gaming, music theory, cryptocurrency, guitar lessons, cello lessons, and 3D imaging. We’ve given users the space to showcase their progress and their own guitar skills, but also the ability to make a more personal connection to the community beyond being a guitar student.

incentivizing activity

for channel growth

Beyond the ability to stream to the Synner community, streamers have the capability to earn a share of the revenue from their streams. We chose to give streamers a share of profits to incentivize content creation and also support members of the community that have unique skills to share. In the first month of SynTV, we’ve seen:


User registrations


Live streams in first month


Donated credits

event production

planning and coordination

As a soft launch to premium subscribers, we hosted the first streaming event on SynTV to introduce users to the platform. With an incredibly supportive client and community, the event went extremely smoothly and has everyone excited for the future of SynTV. To make sure this event was a success, we:

  • Configured the platform
  • Developed a SynTV sub-brand
  • Designed graphics to be used during SynTV streams
  • Developed an agenda with topics and timing
  • Sent out eblasts to inform subscribers about the event
  • Completed stream training for all planning to broadcast to SynTV

streaming network and platform


statistics that show improvement

looking at the results

from start of project

Since starting our work with the Synner community, we’ve implemented tools and strategies to create the engaged community with a lessons system, native app, and custom live streaming platform. From these efforts, we’ve seen increases in metrics across the board.


Profile posts


Post reactions




Active users

For the past few years, I've had the amazing opportunity to grow the Synner community alongside the Audentio team. From the beginning when we started as an online school and community, their team has always been attentive to the needs of our users. Now the Synner brand has evolved into so much more with a streaming platform and mobile app as well. Through it all, they strategized and managed the community to make it the fun and engaging space it is now. Without Mike, Alex, and the whole team pushing my ideas into reality, supporting and encouraging users in the community, and building all the intricate technical aspects, Synner wouldn't be the mind bending experience it is today. I'm so stoked we get to partner on all of these incredible projects and hope for many more in the future.

Brian Haner Jr., Owner at Synner

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