Don’t be a robot, be a friend.

Some useful shit about onboarding.


There’s alot that needs to be considered when designing an onboarding experience that works for your product. Theres also alot of content out there telling you how to design your onboarding experience. Like wayy too much, and I’m about to add more to it #yolo. Anyways, we all got shit to do, so here’s a few principles that can be applied to your product.

Reduce friction as much as possible

The whole purpose of an onboarding flow is to get someone to a point where they are receiving meaningful value from your product. Look at what you’re asking a from a person each step of the way. And question “Do we reaally need this info right now? Does it offer immediate value to them?”. We all have limited focus and attention when trying out and setting up apps. And honestly no one really gives a fuck about your product, they got other shit to do.

As builders of products we have to compete against the other things a person could be doing. It’s just a fact of modern life, if a person doesn’t see value in the things you are asking from them, they are probs gonna go do one of the 56 other things they could be doing.

Try these things:

  • Reducing what your asking from a user to the bare minimum required. Defer the additional content to another time when you can offer relevant value in return for a person’s efforts.
  • Explain to the user why you are asking them to do annoying shit. Think from their perspective. “Access my location, hell no creep! Oh it’s so you can suggest ice cream shops in my area, OK then!”

Tell users what to expect

People don’t like not knowing how much time and energy they have to invest. It’s seriously annoying but so damn easy to fix. Just be a polite dude and tell a brother how long it’s going to take. So this means tell them how many steps there are in the setup flow, how many tasks on that getting started list. “How long is this thing going to take?” is a question everyone is asking when trying something new. You’re asking someone to invest their time and energy into your product. Be damn sure you tell them how far in the process they are.

There is also a little brain hack you can do to try to help push people along. Basically, if you think you’ve already started doing something, you’re more likely to finish it. This is called Endowed Progress. You can leverage this to your advantage an artificially create this effect. The trick is called Artificial Advancement. If you have a setup to-do list in your onboarding, add a couple of items at the very start of it that are already marked as done. Yeah no shit add some extra stuff to make it longer but tick them off… it doesn’t make sense at first right? But the human brain is weird, so fuck it, just roll with it k.

Try these things:

  • Break long setup flows into smaller steps, communicate to the user what these steps are.
  • Add time stamps next to video clips, its much easier to invest into a clip when you know how long it’s going to take. “How long will it take to watch that Getting Started video? Oh 20 seconds, ain’t no thang”.
  • Use artificial advancement to motivate users to finish a set of tasks.

Be human

It’s 2016 guys. Products should deeply consider a user’s emotional needs, not just functional needs. We are building tools for people. We like it when people say good morning to us at the beginning of the work day, we like it when people respect our time and we hate it when people punish us for messing up. Apps should be like our polite, helpful friends that everybody wants to hang out with.

Try these things:

  • Personalise your product in little ways. Refer to a user by their name, remember the info they have given you. See if you can tailor to their individual needs.
  • Reward your customers for doing things for you. Don’t be a robot, be a friend.

Theres alot of other shit that we could cover, thats for another day. Ultimately this post is just about being more considerate to your users. Be polite, be helpful and respect their time. They will thank you for it.