August 10, 2016

Let’s Talk About:

Designing the Beginning

You never get a second chance at a first impression, and yet Julie Zhou points out that “pretty much any time we design something new, we start at the middle.” The middle feels safe. The middle is where users are more likely to understand the context and goals of an experience. We assume that this is where they'll interact in the way we want them to interact and where they’ll find the value we intended to create.

Whether you call it the first-time user experience or onboarding, thinking about the beginning of a user’s journey is an exciting and scary prospect. As designers, we have to understand users’ goals, what they need to learn, and how they might go about exploring.

The onboarding experience is certainly an intimidating one when you’re the person responsible for its creation, but a positive first time user experience is the difference between someone making it to “the middle” or abandoning your site and app before they get to the good stuff. Below are some thoughts on why the first time user experience should be more than an afterthought, and how you can go about approaching this integral part of the user journey.

First-time User Experiences

Community Thoughts on Designing the Beginning...

  1. 1. Design The Beginning “Design your beginning early, and make sure your value prop sings, your messaging is spring-water clear, and you have a well-charted path that beckons your main character to embark, to take a leap of faith that the journey will be worth it, and that at the end they’ll end up somewhere better than they were before.”
  2. 2. Beyond onboarding: ramping up your users from novice to expert “Onboarding is just the first date. If someone installs your app or registers on your site, you’re not guaranteed a long term relationship — far from it... So, what happens after onboarding is crucially important, and keeping a user actively involved in a long term relationship is much harder than impressing them on a first date."
  3. 3. An Intro to User Onboarding, Part 1 Looking for a high-level introduction to onboarding? This article introduces some basic patterns used to create onboarding experiences and shares examples from apps you know and love.
  4. 4. The Risky Business of Onboarding “Introducing potential new users to a product can be tricky. Visitors are just passing by, only willing to interact if they can immediately see a new product’s value. And even if they do sign up, they may not come back. It’s not enough simply to capture an email address—you have to thoughtfully design a process that gets and holds attention, turning new visits into repeated engagement.”

Washington, DC Metro
105 West Broad Street
4th Floor
Falls Church, VA 22046

Durham, NC
309 E. Chapel Hill Street
4th Floor
Durham, NC 27701

Boulder, CO
1002 Walnut St.
3rd Floor
Boulder, CO 80302

Chattanooga, TN
1404 Cowart St.
Chattanooga, TN 37408