User Onboarding – It Is Needed
Congratulations to our winner of the SketchyNotebook packages. If you missed the giveaway from last week, take a minute to check out SketchyNotebooks here. SketchyNotebook fills the multitasking creative’s need for a physical brainstorming space. But this is a new week, and that means A New Giveaway! (Hurraahh!)
User Onboarding and Samuel Hulick
UX 24/7 is super stoked to feature the work of Samuel Hulick. Hulick is the brains and brawn behind UserOnBoard.com, a website devoted to User Onboarding which is, for those of you who do not know, “the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product,” according to Hulick.
First, from a brief tour of Hulick’s website, we see right away that he knows what he’s doing and he is more than willing to provide the proof. His website lists over thirty Teardowns that take us through a screen-shot tour of how websites like BaseCamp or Trello encourage the user to sign up. With each tour, Hulick notes the favorable qualities of the sign-up process and where things could use some work. In Hulick’s own words, “the onboarding process is getting people transitioned from a situation that’s probably frustrating them, because that’s why they’re trying out a new product, to a situation that they’re a lot happier with. Then, they pay you money for that pain relief.” (http://www.kalzumeus.com) He wishes to show SaaS companies how to make that transition easier.
These teardowns are FASCINATING. Hulick points out where the subtlest of mistakes can be a distraction for the user and therefore discourage them from signing up. For example, on page 12 of the Basecamp teardown he mentions how the phrase, “Progress on their Product” is a little vague. This is a perfect example of what can be considered valuable advice: “Be Specific.” Being abstract never helps anyone. These teardowns follow the rules of every civilized creative workshop, “say the nice things first then get down to the critiques,” or “nitpicks,” as Hulick calls them. He relays all his observations with a pleasant tone: “you’re telling me what you’re doing. *Swoons,*” he comments about a loading emoticon to indicate where the user is in the sign up process. I love it. I recommend getting a bowl of popcorn, a glass of wine, and giving these teardowns a read.
He provides theoretical reasons for his critiques as well, according to Patrick McKenzie of kalzumeus.com. “He makes copious screencasts/screenshots of the product during the onboarding phase (…) Sam did public tear-downs about this for various websites, ranging from Gmail and Basecamp, down to no-name websites like mine, and just highlighted, ‘OK, here’s what they’re doing well. Here’s what they’re doing poorly. Here’s what my recommendations would be for doing it better.’”
A Message Board?
There are other ways to sneak a peek into Hulick’s brain. His website provides a comment board for questions to which Hulick promises to respond. About the message boards, Hulick says, “I offer it as a service because I’d like to build up an ongoing conversation about onboarding and doing so via private, one-to-one emails didn’t make sense.”
Another space from which one may gather Hulick’s and other’s sage advice is his podcast, “Successful Users,” which he hosted with Robert Graham. Here, Hulick and Graham answered the question, “What Advice Can You Give to Someone Starting out in the UX field?” I took the liberty of making a quick take-away list (for my benefit) but recommend listening to the episode for the more detailed answers. So here we go (“H” is from Hulick, “G” is from Graham):
- Provide Real Measurable Offerings that really matter to you, the provider (G).
- Read the Book Don’t Make Me Think! By Steve Krug (H)
- Address Each Piece of the App On Its Own (G)
- Plan and Keep Up with Usability Tests (H)
- Read The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman (G)
- Get Started with User Recruiting and Follow Up with User Recruiting (H)
- Hire a Consultant. (G)
- Don’t Just Design Individual Screens, Design a Work Flow. (H)
- Conduct Surveys (G)
- Do An Expectancy Test (H)
“You can’t make anybody do anything (…) just because a screen exists doesn’t cause a mode of behavior.” (Hulick)
So User Onboarding Sounds Great… But… What is the Give Away?
This week UX 24/7 is featuring a PDF copy of The Elements of UserOnboarding, written by Samuel Hulick. “This 130-page Ebook was designed to be the most enjoyable and thorough guide to user adoption the world has ever seen,” As touted by UserOnboard.com. Enjoyable and thorough? I can believe it, especially from a guy who made me physically lol during a Teardown of Netflix. But let’s look inside the book just to see for ourselves…
(poor user onboarding is) a waste of time for the people trying to use your product, and it’s a waste of resources for the people creating & marketing it! It means you’re burning advertising dollars on prospects that would otherwise be a sound investment, and it can lead to low retention rates even for those who do make it through. Factor in the extra support & sales costs to hand-hold an unnecessarily confused user base through your adoption process, as well, and it becomes clear just how much cash you’re bleeding because of it.
So much advice, and y’all haven’t even got the book yet. But this is all to say that Samuel Hulick boasts a wealth of experience and knowledge. The book The Elements of User Onboarding is a valuable resource to anyone looking to start up or improve their app and their potential users’ experience.
Enter the giveaway here.