• Celebrating over five million users, a quarter million daily actives, and over five years of dedicated user support

    Posted by John on November 28, 2019

    Earlier this month we hit a number of significant milestones at Overleaf that we’d like to share with you all 😊

    Five million users!

    There are now over five million user accounts on Overleaf! It’s not long since we were announcing hitting the four million user mark, and the continued growth in new sign ups has been amazing to see.

    This was announced in a typically understated fashion internally via Slack:

    users-5000379

    One of the reasons for the low-key announcement (and why this blog post isn’t just about the five million user number!) is that user registrations alone are not a measure of success; it’s also important that users keep using Overleaf (rather than finding it frustrating and giving up!), and that we are able to continue to support such growth in our userbase, both through our infrastructure and our support team. Which brings me nicely onto these next two milestones, which came at the ideal time to celebrate with this one.

    A quarter of a million daily active users

    We always see an increase in usage at the start of the new (northern hemisphere) academic year in September, both in terms of new user registrations (as new students begin their studies and start using Overleaf) and with the return of existing users back from their summer breaks!

    This year is particularly impressive, as over the past month we’ve regularly been hitting over a quarter of a million daily active users...yes, over 250,000 people use Overleaf in a single day. That’s...hard to comprehend, and certainly far more than we envisioned back when we were first using Overleaf for our own research projects.

    To put this into some sort of perspective: in a single day, we now have 10x more users than the total size of the userbase in September 2013 when we took the stage for demo day at the end of the Bethnal Green Venture accelerator programme. We’ve come a long way since then, scaling up both the technology behind the scenes, and the team around us. Which leads me onto our third and most important milestone...

    Over five years of dedicated user support

    I’m delighted to announce that Lian Tze Lim has now been part of the Overleaf support team for over five years! She started back in 2014, and at the time she and Nicholas were the first two dedicated ‘TeXperts’ that joined Overleaf (or WriteLaTeX as we were called back then) to help support our growing community.

    Since then she’s been a hugely important member of our team, answering thousands of support questions, publishing a variety of amazing examples in the gallery, writing many help articles for our learn wiki, and giving introductions to LaTeX at events and workshops, such as the one below at NTU in Singapore:

    lim-lian-tze-ntu-workshop

    User support has always been a core part of what Overleaf as a team is all about—everyone who emails or contacts support has their message read and answered by a human! We had over 5,000 inbound messages in September, and our front-line support team of four takes the bulk of these, triaging the rest as needed.

    Even though the front-line support team handles the majority of the messages, we also try to ensure that everyone is involved with support in some capacity, as it provides a connection to our users that’s important for everyone, in every role at Overleaf. The development team has a rota so that everyone helps out with second-line support, and we have regular product-dev-support, sales-marketing-support (etc) catch ups to keep the conversation going internally about what’s coming up most frequently in support, and what small (or sometimes big!) fixes or improvements would help the support team the most in their day-to-day work.

    This combination of external feedback and internal communication helps us continue to build better tools for you to write up your work, and we are also running a number of user research initiatives to help shape the future of Overleaf—see below if you’d like to get involved.

    Congratulations again to Lian Tze, and to the whole team for all their hard work in making Overleaf scale to serve such a large and enthusiastic user community. We’re all looking forward to reaching the next big milestones ahead!

    Get involved

    We’re currently conducting some user research to help inform our roadmap for 2020 and beyond. If you'd like to volunteer your time to be interviewed, or have some feedback you’d like to share, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Do also look out for new job opportunities at Overleaf in the new year!

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