I’ve reviewed your platform on-boarding Intercom. Here is what I’ve found.

As you have pointed out in your book on Starting Up: “Every software has bugs. Aiming for zero bugs is unrealistic, impractical and certainly overly optimistic for something that gives you fast diminishing returns.”

I will try to point out ones that I’ve came across. At the beginning I’ll describe small, not connected bugs and at the end, a bigger picture problem I had and I’ll propose the solution so you can actually see how to approach problems.

Please keep in mind that I do not know if the problems I have described are affecting more people as I don’t have any data. As a new user, I used only my own experience & empathy.

I have also graded all of the issues I have found based on the system you use:

  • How severe is the problem?
  • How many customers does it affect?

Let’s get started.


This is a main call-to-action element across the whole Intercom landing page (with different wording). After filling in my e-mail address I got this screen.

Emoji is not showing up

Severity: LOW
Number of customers affected: Everyone with personal e-mail

It seems that your frontend engine is not parsing the emojis in registration properly. This is not affecting the registration flow and it is shown only to people who have filled in their personal e-mails.

I can’t register

Severity: HIGH
Number of customers affected: Only very few

This is not the major use case but can make one really angry and frustrated. Let’s say I don’t have a work e-mail or my work e-mail is another gmail address. Since first step (typing my e-mail address) and after seeing the ‘Do you have a work e-mail?’ message, I have changed my mind and fill in my another Gmail address. This is what I get after validation (all other fields were filled in properly).

Not even the error message is correct. For not very experienced PC users this might me a breakdown in registration process.


Your on-boarding is awesome. We all know it. However, I have seen two super small issues that are not even worth mentioning (but I will do so) and then I would love to jump to more important, bigger picture connection where I get lost during my starting up with Intercom process.

Does it make sense to create ‘Actions’ menu for only one action?

Severity: LOW
Number of customers affected: Only very few

I understand the point that you don’t want people to skip the process so hiding the ‘skip’ button can be a reasonable design decision.

The docs screenshot is out-dated

Severity: LOW
Number of customers affected: Only very few

I know it’s hard to keep docs up-to-date in the company where you experiment a lot. It’s same at Shopify where I worked previously. Even though this is totally negligible shortcoming the more interesting might be to think about processes behind writing the docs:

  1. How to keep the docs up-to-date with all longer-term changes?
  2. How to setup the communication flow between dev & people making docs?

Messenger Customization

I want to spend most of the time here. This was my priority when I was signing up and I found it hard. I try to explain all the factors that made me feel that it’s hard.

Problem Statement

“Disconnected flow of customizing Intercom Messenger.”

Why is this a problem?

  1. It’s disconnected.

2. Therefore, it takes a longer time to find all of the options.

3. Therefore, users feel dumb and angry.

Jobs to be done

The task I want to accomplish is:

  1. Install Intercom (I have done this without difficulties)
  2. Customize Intercom (I had a hard time)

Exactly like in your setup guide.

Customizing Intercom

A common use-case of customizing Intercom in terms of JTBD would look something like this:

  1. Choose how it will look like (my brand colors, background, etc.)
  2. Customize the welcome message (this is the first message that my users always see)
  3. Add my photo to make messenger more personal
Connection between each of these jobs are not working. Even worse, there are no connections.

This basically means that instead of having one ‘editor’ that can help me done all of the jobs I need to jump through 3 different screens and even worse I have to find all of them.

Problems I came across

During my work progressing through setup guide I got distracted with this message saying me to upload my photo.

After that I got to the screen where I can upload my photo. I have chosen quite random photo with a good faith in today’s online tools that it will enable me to at least crop my avatar from a whole picture. Well, there was no such as a crop function and I ended up with this.

This does not even has a circular shape like every photo in messenger. How can I see the preview of picture as it will be shown on my profile?

Ok. I have finally uploaded the photo (I had cropped it on my computer before). But… How I will get back to where I was? Was it called setup guide? I gotta find it.

After getting back to setup guide the next step was customizing Intercom Messenger.

Following the screenshot I have seen (and the message inside of the Messenger) and my intuition I would expect that after clicking on the text or photo I can customize Messenger as much as possible. But, I couldn’t.

One might argue that it’s written there: “choose a custom color” and “select a wallpaper”. Let’s pretend that I have read carefully. I looked on right menu in hope that I will be able to change that message. Unsuccessfully.

After few minutes of clicking through the interface I finally found it. The thing I was looking for is called Welcome message. This was the thing I wanted to change. (It is the first message that your visitors will see after running your website for the first time)

My confusion comes from two things

  1. I was not familiar with naming and no one guided me to this option
  2. I got confused by information structure

Since this message is related to Messenger. I went through all of the pages under Messenger tab. Nothing. After this guess I tried the messages tab.

Navigation structure in App Settings

Proposed solution

Every problem has more solutions. During exploration phase I’ve done I came up with two solutions.

First solution is to create a links between those pages by a simple text link and a good copy.

Example of messages that can appear within Messenger appearance page and navigate users to customize other aspects of Messenger. (Since English is not my first language it’s harder for me to write high-quality copy. But I’m working on it.)


  • Quick win, easy to implement


  • This is bringing too much of the text to the screen and might cause users distraction from the main task they want to finish.

Second solution might be slightly edited customization interface (and flow and information architecture) that will provide all the essential functionality in the one place. Customizing appearance, uploading your own personal photo & setting up a welcome message in one editor.

Quick sketch of proposed editor. Still lot of opportunities for improvements.

This editor can become a part of the on-boarding process, and add a new functionality and flow to already existing step of customizing Intercom Messenger. The editor will be equally interactive as the one currently in ‘welcome message’ section.

Additionally, Intercom can get rid off the ‘Welcome Message’ settings page. Give the users better preview on how their photo will look like within Messenger. Connect related jobs-to-be-done and make them easier and faster to finish. Oh, and I believe we can use users profile picture from Google Account if they have chosen this option at the beginning.

This solution will require more development and design effort but it will make things a lot easier. Since people do not customize and setup Messenger everyday (I believe it is only after registration and in special occasions) this change won’t affect them that much (assume they don’t even remember the menus. They only know it will be somewhere in the settings) but will help new users start up right away.

I bet that you know about lot of these things I have pointed out in this article. But if you at least like my thinking about your product and my drive, give me an opportunity to work for you during this summer as an intern.

Don’t forget to check this website I’ve crafted for you and let me know your feedback via e-mail.

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