Designing the First Fifteen Minutes

March 13, 2010 12:30pm
Daniel Burka – Tiny Speck
Rob Goodlatte – Facebook Inc

That user who just signed up is about to bail. And a thousand other people just stopped in but didn’t even bother to register. Your product is great, but your users don’t stay long enough to find that out. The first fifteen minutes of your product are the most important. Learn from the successes, mistakes, and insights of designing new user experiences for products.
Twitter: #designfirst15min

"We design for ourselves first."
This falls flat when designing for new users – we’re only new users one time.

Facebook users started getting to Read Write Web and thought it was the FB login page.

Date before demanding commitment.
Get your users invested before you propose.

Get someone to use your application before making them set up an account – jobspice sets up your resume first, then sends you to create an account.

Indicate that whatever is over that signup wall is worth doing. If you have to go the oldschool route, be very fast at showing where the incentive is. Be sure to know what that incentive is p the ah-ha moment for your product.

Facebook changed their registration system to improve the signups and eliminate every distraction they could have. They push social ah-ha moments. You can suggest friends/photos for other people.

Feedback Cycles
Stolen from video games – Spore, the video game takes you from very simple to more complex, and the rewards become more sophisticated. has a small feedback for each field you fill out that says "good job" when you enter the correct data.

Games handle education really well – questing. We think a quest is just a fun thing to do, but it’s actually a way to sneak instructions into things. Don’t say "go do anything," what kind of anything?  Provide some kind of reward for doing work.

Tumblr signup process is really simple. Give your limited info, then straight into name and how to use it. You use the system, see how it works, and already created content in the span of 60 seconds.

See your new user experience with fresh eyes…
Run through the user experience a dozen times, and get people who have never seen it before and look at it through their eyes. Get newcomers invested right away. Get a user into the car for a test drive right away! Discover your core ah-ha moment in your product and get to it as soon as possible. Small goals go a long way.


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