Getting It Right the First Time: How We Built the Chris Onboarding Process

We want the first time you use Chris to be easy — and special. Here’s how we’re making that happen.

Please note that the screenshots in this blog are very much works in progress, and display support for some services that will not be available on launch.

It’s a design truism that good design makes things easy. When you first buy a product, you don’t want to have to read a huge instruction manual and scan through complex diagrams or multiple pages of 8-point text just to find the on switch. You want to get started straight away, with as little difficulty as possible.

In recent years, designers have placed first-time user experience at the center of the user product journey. If a customer or user can’t immediately see the value of a product, they’re less likely to continue to use it. And the first interaction is often where they make this decision — even subconsciously. Even if they continue to use the product after a difficult set up process, the seeds of dissatisfaction are sown early.

On the other hand, getting it right and getting users set up straight away can lead to great satisfaction: someone who has recently bought a product is likely to have a high level of excitement about using it. A good onboarding experience keeps this experience rolling, and the chances of the user making the product a part of their life are highly increased.

With Chris, creating a valuable and smooth onboarding process is a more challenging than for other products. We like to think that Chris is a unique product and this means it has several issues to consider at the same time. Chris combines voice, gestures and a glanceable display, and also needs to be fitted safely and seamlessly into the car.

With software products users have learnt, usually over the course of many years, how to interact through their hardware devices. They know how to use a keyboard and mouse, or they know how to swipe on their smartphone screen.

With Chris, we need to make sure users understand which gestures do what, how to make Chris listen, which voice commands work best — and that they have to wait for the beep before making commands.

None of these things are difficult to understand in themselves, and they’re incredibly easy once the user is aware of what’s expected of them. But it’s vital that we get them to this stage as soon as possible so they can start enjoying Chris.

We’re still developing our our onboarding flow, taking on valuable user-testing data and feedback. But we wanted to share with you how we’re working and what we’re thinking about.

With all this in mind, what needs to happen by the end of our onboarding process?

  • Chris needs to be connected to the car, via Bluetooth or FM
  • Audio needs to be configured and connected, and to work well
  • Chris needs to be installed in the car in the right way
  • Users need to be taught how to use hand gestures
  • Users need to understand how to use the voice control and understand what they can say
  • Users need to understand what Chris can do

The way we’ve chosen to guide users through the first-time use process is by using a step-by-step pathway in the Chris app rather than by providing a big instruction manual (although we will be including a small printed instruction booklet). We’re also considering adding elements of gamification to the process, so make the steps more fun.

Many of the most important steps involve getting permissions to access data on the user’s smartphone, and we will provide brief explanations of why these are necessary at every step.

For example, in order for users to be able to start using Chris to make calls and texts right away, Chris needs to access the contacts on the user’s smartphone. So we display this screen and ask for permission to access contacts:

The Chris app asks for these permissions for contacts, use of the microphone and access to location, phone, reminders and other apps, and also prompts you to connect your smartphone with Chris via Bluetooth.

Because we want Chris users to be in control of their data, we also want to offer options for this while explaining what we’re doing. For example, we can greatly improve the Chris experience by using data to improve speech recognition, but it’s important that we’re up front about this.

The user also requires an account so that we can store their preferences for ease-of-use after the initial set-up process. These details will be the same for the app and for the website.

After this quick set-up is complete, we can move on to the fun stuff.

User commands

As mentioned, although Chris is easy to use, there are a few new aspects required to get the most out of the device. Therefore, we’ve provided some tutorial screens in the set-up process to help users experience how useful Chris can be right away, without the pain of experimentation.

For example, here’s a basic list of commands that users can make to get them started:

It’s also vital that users get to grips with the gestures as soon as possible, so we’ve included guidance and instructions:

Perhaps the most important part of this process is to make sure Chris is installed in the car correctly, whether this is by Bluetooth or FM. The app needs to make this as easy as possible.

After this, the user is ready to go!

We’re still finalizing exactly what the first-time-use flow will look like, but we hope this has given you a taste of what we’re thinking about, and that we’re putting a lot of work into making sure your first experience with Chris is a quick and easy start to your journey with the world’s first digital co-driver.

Do you have any further questions? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch on Twitter or Facebook, or leave us a comment on this blog.

Sam Diamond is responsible for Social and Story at German Autolabs.

He likes football, reading and running, and is passionate about making driving smarter.