There’s a reason flashcards have been around for so long: they’re a pretty effective study tool. But when was the last time you heard someone say they actually enjoy using flashcards?

Flashcards have needed a makeover for a while, which is why Duolingo introduced Tinycards last July. With Tinycards, Duolingo set out to transform flashcards from a notoriously boring study tool into a fun and game-like one. These aren’t your parents’ flashcards.

To make the experience even better for users, we’ve recently been working on new features and improvements to Tinycards like autocomplete in the search bar, recommended decks personalized for you, and one top-secret update that you’ll just have to wait for. ;) Our work revealed key insights into how people use Tinycards, what they search for, and what makes an effective Tinycards deck.

With the following advice, you’ll know everything you need to make sure your next Tinycards deck is the most popular deck around.

What topics do users look for?

In order to make sure our users have the best experience possible, we like to keep our fingers on the pulse of what users search for so we can help provide even more useful content.

Since Tinycards went live, our users have searched for languages above anything else. All of our top 15 queries were languages, with French in first place and Esperanto in 15th.

In fact, every Duolingo language course was included in searches on Tinycards – including Emoji (this year’s April Fool’s Joke), which came in just after Norwegian and just before Thai. However, Tinycards seems to be a bit more popular for some languages over others. Compare the top rankings for Duolingo languages vs. Tinycards searches:

Popular language courses on Duolingo vs. Tinycards

Filter out the languages, though, and you’ll see that users learn more than just languages on Tinycards. At #26 in our queries, there’s history, at #28 there’s math, at #31 music, and at #34 anatomy.

Our fans are also nerds, just like we are: they’ve looked up everything from High Valyrian (try our new course!) and Minecraft to Star Trek and Hamilton. We’ve even got some dedicated content creators you can follow, like BB-8Awakens and Pensieve, who post impressive decks about Star Wars and Harry Potter, respectively!

We’ve also noticed that our course launches have an impact on Tinycards use: when Duolingo’s Japanese course was released on May 18, searches for "Japanese" spiked by 21% – and that’s not counting users who navigated directly to a deck through their favorites list!

Some languages, though, have better decks than others – decks on Korean are favorited by users 58% of the time, while for Turkish decks this number is almost 85%! So if you’re looking to make some popular Tinycards content, start where the need for good decks is most dire.

How do users find their decks?

Demo of the autocomplete feature

Now we know what users look for, but how do they actually go about searching? Previously, the easiest two ways were to follow interesting people or to search for decks. This summer we developed features to make decks more accessible to users.

For instance, we now help you out while you’re typing with autocomplete. Not only do we use top searches, but we’ve also seeded it with the titles of our most successful decks of all time. So if you’re looking for the "Famous Impressionists" deck, just typing “fam” should be enough to get you there.

Fuzzy search includes similar search results

We also recognize that typing can be a bit challenging, especially if you’re on a little mobile screen. The Tinycards site is designed to be responsive, so users on phones and tablets get just as awesome of an experience as desktop users do. So if somehow you manage to mistype "Spanish" as “Spanosh,” we now make sure that you can still get to your intended deck, ASAP.

But what if you don’t know what you want? Taking our cues from places like Netflix and Facebook, we decided it might be nice to give you customized recommendations for decks we think you might enjoy! If you’ve studied a bunch of art and German decks, maybe you’ll like "The Art of Europe"? Or maybe you studied “Famous Inventions” and “Wonders of the World” – you seem like the kind of person who’d like “Famous Conquerors”. (We only make recommendations for users who’ve been active on Tinycards in the past two weeks, so if you’re missing recommendations, maybe that’ll be an incentive for you to study up on your decks!)

But if you really fall flat, and can’t find any deck you want to study, remember: you can always create your own!

What makes a good deck?

When no search results are found, Tinycards prompts users to create their own decks.

Hopefully, this blog post has inspired you to make some decks on Tinycards. But let’s admit, we all like fame, fortune, and glory – so what can you do to ensure that your deck gets seen and studied by as many Tinycardsians (Tinycarduinos? Tinycaardvarks?) as possible?

Here are four simple tips you can follow:

1. Give your deck a good cover image!

When users encounter your deck in the trending carousel, their "People You Follow" list, or a search result, this is the first thing they see! On the deck creation page, you can search the Internet or upload your own image, so regardless of your skill level, you can make a pretty deck.

2. Use images in your cards!

We’ve all heard the cliche "a picture is worth a thousand words", but did you know that the science exists to back it up? Over half of our currently trending decks incorporate pictures in some way: some awesome ones include “Education Around the World” and “International Desserts” (yum)! Try emulating these decks if you want a deck that’s easy to learn, fun, and memorable.

3. Consider using text-to-speech (TTS) and choosing appropriate question types.

When you create a deck, click the little settings icon icon to access deck settings. For language decks, consider adding audio so users can get practice listening! For decks with cards that have long answers (for instance, biography decks), maybe turn off typing questions – we know from experience that it can be a bit frustrating to type out a 20-word phrase by hand.

4. Add a suitable number of cards to your deck.

Though 17% of decks on Tinycards have 6 or fewer cards, only 5% of trending decks do. Think this is a coincidence? Think again! Users like to feel a sense of accomplishment, so try to make your deck long enough to really teach something.

Keep these tips in mind, and you might just be on your way to flashcard fame.