Video: Get People to Your Core Value ASAP

by May 8, 2023

Designers that copy how most mobile apps onboard new users will end up with intro screens, tutorials, and more in their app's first time experience. This two and a half minute clip from my Mind the Gap presentation argues that instead, designers should focus on getting users to their app's core value as soon as possible but not sooner.


Once again... a splash screen, a few permission dialogues, and a tutorial, which is often justified by saying, everybody's doing it. But what does that mean?

Those of you that have worked at a software design company know it's pretty common to kick things off with what's known as a competitive analysis. That is, you look at what other sites or apps are doing for a specific feature, you print them out, put them on the walls, and compare what you see.

In the case of scooter sharing companies, we can look at the onboarding experiences of Jump, Spin, Ofo, Bird, Lime, and we see across most of them that there's an intro tour explaining the service to people. So the result of this competitive analysis is that intro tours are probably a good idea because everybody else has one, right?

But if you actually take the time to test some of these things, like the music service Vevo did, they looked at how people were using their intro tour through user testing and analytics. They found most people were just skipping through the tutorial without reading any of the copy.

So if they're skipping this, what would happen if they just got rid of the tour? Turns out in a 28-day experiment with over 160,000 participants, the total number of people who got into the app increased. Completing the tutorial didn't affect engagement or retention metrics, and more people actually completed sign-up.

You can see similar principles at work in the evolution of several Google products as well. Google Photos, for instance, used to have an intro tour, an animated tour, and an introduction to its Android app.

Following a series of tests, the team ended up with a much reduced experience. Away went the spinning logo, the get started screen, the animated tour, all which were sources of drop-off.

All that was left was a redesigned version of the turn-on auto backup screen, which was overlaid on top of people's photo galleries. This step was critical to getting the value out of Google Photos. It's a service that backs up and makes your photos re-findable easily. Little in the app works without this step, so the team made it the first and only focus of onboarding.

It's a great illustration of the principle of getting people to product value as fast as possible, but not faster.

That is, ask the user for the minimum amount of information you need to get them the most valuable experience. In the case of Google Photos, that's turning on auto backup.