5 seconds of first-time user experience

Shiran Hirshberg
Jun 20, 2020 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Have you ever considered how your product feels like for new users, in the first 5 seconds after they have finished sign in? I collected here some examples and insights. If you are working on improving the user activation (and surprisingly retention), take several minutes to grab some great insights here.

Albert Einstein reportedly said that if he had an hour to solve a problem, he would spend fifty-five minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.
Ask for More / Alexandra Carter

What is a first-time user experience (FTUE)?

It is the impression users get in the first 5 seconds in the product right after they have finished the registration flow. Of course, 5 seconds is not enough time to see the whole product or to interact with it, the main focus will be always on the main initial page of the product.

Every product has it’s own (positive or negative) experience. Even if users already experienced a similar product before, the experience may be different, with just changing colors or textual messages.

“Have you ever had something that you really loved to use? Something that had a beauty earned by its amazingly beautiful design? While other similar products may have an equally usable and useful design, they just do not have that something extra that sparks a deep emotional chord of affinity”
The UX Book /Rex Hartson and Pardha S. Pyla

Image for post
Image for post
Feedly clean and a fresh new start, with one main call to action, “Add articles”

Why FTUE is so important?

Imagine you have just registered to a social media platform, let’s call it HelloThere. You have previous experience using other similar platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. This knowledge could help you learn faster HelloThere, based on some common patterns you are familiar with.

For example, you want to find a specific friend in the HelloThere platform. Based on your experience you will probably look for the search field or a search icon, somewhere on the top of the main page. But what would happen if it is not there? Your intuition doesn’t work in this case. Meaning that you need to put an effort, have patience, and invest your time to figure this out. And if you do not have one of these three, you will probably abandon the product.

How to design a great FTUE?

New users scan with their eyes the product in the first 5 seconds they see it. They may read a short title, focus on buttons and visual elements, and try to get the feeling and the vibe of the product. Scanning meaning understanding the main structure of the product and gathering an idea of what they can do there.

Here are some ideas about how to improve the experience for new users:

Give the user the choice

Let the user these 5 seconds (or even more) to understand where they landed. I saw a lot of products that ambush new users with overlays (even with steps), tooltips, and animations. To start to engage with the product, it is important to see it first, to understand what the user can do there, to let them scroll a bit, or to click around. Do not start popping things right after the first login. A great way to promote elements is by having hotspots. Then, users have the choice if to explore the product or go through a walkthrough.

Image for post
Image for post
Grammarly onboarding, small hotspot highlight above the button where recommended to click

Help users focus on the main content and actions

Having an overwhelming first-home page is not a good idea. Help your users to understand what they can do by:

  1. Have a clear design structure: There is a common layout that most of the websites and applications use. For example, the menu will mostly appear on top or on the left side on the web, and on mobile as bottom navigation or inside a hamburger menu. Help users to catch these common patterns, will reduce the time to understand what the product is about and what they can do there.
  2. Make clear way to orient: What buttons appear on the menu and the hierarchy of them is important. When users scan the main page in 5 seconds, they will approach the menu and will read these labels, make them clear, short, and to the point.
  3. Relevant content for new users: Promote the main actions you want users to see and to try. There is a limited (mostly short) patient when users will try some features, and in the first 5 seconds, they will try to understand why they want to try next. Bring in from the actions which will be relevant for them.
Image for post
Image for post
Brainly helps users to focus on the main actions right after registration

Offer the next steps

It doesn't matter if the user will interact with your suggestions of the next steps, but just to have the feeling that the flow for new users is clear and organized, that someone puts the effort to think about the most recommended steps.

Image for post
Image for post
Qordoba Get Stated module includes a list of next recommended steps

When it comes to showing recommended actions to new users, it is also important to keep in mind the paradox of choice, when users most likely to take action when there are few choices. In the example above from Qordoba, they checked the first action already, to give a feeling of progress, and there are only 3 more actions to take.

How is it related to retention?

Overcomplicated experience with a crowded main first page could increase the chance users will not interact with the product and would not come back again. A pleasant experience could hook users to use the product more for the first time, and then help them experience the Aha! moment. And for each B2B and B2C products, this is a crucial step.

Optimizing the user journey of new users would be mostly on the main product page, it makes sense to tackle the drop-points there to optimize the flow and all the touchpoints. For example, if the number of users who come back on the second time is 20%, by taking a look at the flow of new users could uncover some reasons, e.g. something in the pages is vague or maybe there is a technical issue. Removing barriers and reduce confusion. I would recommend in this case to test several variations, with different microscopy, visuals, and tasks, to find the best fit.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +754K people. Follow to join our community.

Shiran Hirshberg

Written by

I am passionate about UX design and my work is all about making end-users happy. Take a look on my portfolio: https://sheshiran.webflow.io/

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +754K people. Follow to join our community.

Shiran Hirshberg

Written by

I am passionate about UX design and my work is all about making end-users happy. Take a look on my portfolio: https://sheshiran.webflow.io/

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +754K people. Follow to join our community.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store