Foursquare for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Foursquare doesn’t try to overload new users with many concepts presented in any intro tour. While it does frontload some information, this information is focused on a single concept—the idea of  frontloaded content or an intro tour. Instead, it focuses the new user on a single concept, which is the use of a person’s tastes and likes to drive recommendations in the app.
  • As part of this introduction, Foursquare lets the new user interact early by offering a selection of tags used to personalize the app to her tastes. 
  • After signing in, there is a brief loading screen that is lightly personalized by showing the first letter of the user’s name.
  • Once in the app, Foursquare leverages as-you-go tooltips to call out portions of the experience that might be of interest. These apply teachings in context, and also can be leveraged as platform for continued learning 

To be improved:

  • Foursquare forces sign-in before a user can view any listings. Although this requirement is deferred until after she selects her “likes”, this means there is a point of interruption before she can see how those likes pay off. It also raises privacy questions before the new user may be sold on the app itself.
  • After signing in, the new user still may not be able to see the results she has been waiting for if her phone’s preferences are not set to allow Foursquare to use her location. Instead, she will see a prompt to change her preferences, be required to manually traverse the Privacy settings tree, and then exit Settings and re-enter the Foursquare app.
  • Although the user-guided tutorial approach to tooltips is better than frontloading this information, some of the tooltips are seemingly obvious, which can detract from how their importance is perceived. For example, the tooltip explaining ratings might be unnecessary.

Adobe Shape CC for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Once a new user signs in to his CC account (more on that in the “to be improved section) the app takes him right into the act of capturing and tracing a sketch via the phone’s camera. Even if the new user doesn’t have a sketch in front of him at this point, he can quickly try it out by seeing how everyday objects, shapes, etc. are traced.
  • The app spends very little time on introductory text, and the ability to jump right into action is omnipresent on both of the two introductory screens. 
  • Although not intended for just the first time user experience, the onscreen outlines that appear over a sketch really do help more than words at illustrating what will be visible in the traced outlines.
  • The controls are simple and focused, which helps the user see an early success.

To be improved:

  • The app forces a new user to sign in or sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud account, which is a point of friction for such a simple and focused that wasn’t forced in other products like Photoshop Express. Perhaps the app could instead suggest a new user sign up for an account if, later, they want to access their tracings on other devices.
  • Although there are two introductory screens in the (thankfully limited) opening intro tour, neither do a good job of clearly illustrating key use cases of the app. The title text (which is likely to be the only text read on this screen) is an abstract line: “Capture Inspiring Shapes.” And there is no supporting imagery to show, for example, a sketch in a sketch book.
  • The user-guided tooltips were helpful, but they can be easily dismissed without being read. Unfortunately, there are no labels on the controls to help refresh a user as to their purpose.
  • It’s not clear to a new user why he cannot share his images; the app clearly restricts access to saved images to Adobe CC, but this isn’t clarified to new users at any point.

FireChat for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • On the bluetooth pairing and location prompts, FireChat leverages the background plane to add further clarity on why these two settings are necessary for the app experience.
  • FireChat allows the new user to start off quickly by seeding a list of topical chats, instead of forcing her to organize one of her own.

To be improved:

  • FireChat frontloads a 7-panel introductory tour that tries to explain different scenarios in which the app might be useful. Instead, the app might consider focusing on just the content seen on panel 1 and panel 6 (which talks about the “Nearby” setting), and let the new user find her own best-use scenario by getting her to quickly choose a topic of interest. 
  • This app forces the new user to sign up before she can get a glimpse of sample FireChats. Perhaps the app could consider an anonymous mode to let guests explore topics.
  • The initial list of FireChat topics seems randomly distributed across political and entertainment topics. 
  • The “Nearby” chat often initially opens to an empty screen. The note “You are the only one here” is dwarfed by the broader note “Chat without Internet Works up to 210 feet.” The app might consider switching the prominence of these two lines so that it’s clearer why this content is empty for the new user. 

Lark for Android first time user experience
Lark is an exercise coaching app that leverages a user’s phone to track their fitness activity and give them tips on how to be more physically fit.

The good bits

  • The app leverages any activity data that is already stored on the new user’s device to provide her with immediate coaching, which gives the first time experience a personal focus
  • The app leverages a conversational format to provide a platform for continued engagement. As time goes on, the app will update its coaching, noting any improvements the user has made to her activity.
  • There are many times when the app gives the user the option to learn more, instead of assuming she wants to view lengthy explanations. This choice makes the app more appealing to learners of different types.

To be improved:

  • Although Lark could provide immediate coaching based simply on activity data from the user’s device, it instead forces the new user to view an intro tour and sign up for an account.
  • The photography is overly abstract in the intro tour and also makes it difficult for users to read the very light text laid on top of it.
  • While the conversational format is initially personable, it can become frustrating because the user can often only reply with a limited set of pre-determined responses. This is contradictory to the chat-like formatting of the coaching interface, and the user may have additional questions beyond just those the app seems willing to answer.
  • The chat-like interface also can cause the new user to lose track of earlier items being explained. For example, when the app asks the new user if she requires an explanation of a chart the resulting explanation quickly pushes that chart off the screen. It might be better to enter a different viewing mode so that the chart, and explanations, can be displayed together.

Lockitron First Time User Experience
Lockitron is a device which can lock and unlock deadbolt locks via remote control, typically a smartphone.

The good bits:

  • Batteries and even a screwdriver are included in the Lockitron hardware box to help ensure that the new owner can get the device up and running as quickly as possible. 
  • The Lockitron mobile app serves as a setup companion while the owner configures the locking device. The process is a setup wizard, but one that is broken apart into relevant chunks so that the user doesn’t have to waste time flipping through the printed manual (even though a manual is included for additional levels of detail).  The wizard content is composed of video clips that auto-play as different conditions are met (such as successful connection to wifi or answering a question about lock orientation). The video also helps set the user’s expectations about what will happen next.
  • The mobile app gives the new user an opportunity to take a photo of his door lock and send it to the Lockitron team to get information on compatibility and setup.
  • The phone app is also used to connect the Lockitron device to the user’s wifi network. The user enters his wifi information on his phone, and the information gets translated to the Lockitron via a series of screen flashes that are read by an optical sensor. This helps reduce potential errors as a new user tries to onboard a new device to his network.

To be improved:

  • Lockitron forces a new user to create an account or sign in before he can proceed with setting up his device. While this might be understandable given the privacy concerns with a door lock, it would still be interesting to explore deferring sign-in so that the first use experience can be focused on getting the device up and running.  The video content could be easily viewed, for example, without needing an account.
  • The video content should use some form of signposting to give the new user an idea of how many steps are involved, as well as more frequent pause points. There are some places where multiple steps are covered quickly, and it’s difficult to complete each on the physical device and view/hold the phone at the same time.
  • A few requirements were missing from the phone setup companion experience. For example, the video doesn’t cover how to position the lock’s C-plate to make it compatible with a particular lock. Although this information is available on Lockitron’s site, it is important to cover during the setup experience because it can have an adverse effect on the success of the remaining steps. While it’s fine to offload the mobile app, which is the product’s primary instruction method, of non-critical instructions, anything that is crucial to achieving the setup goal should be included.

Hyperlapse for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:
• Unlike Instagram’s core app, Hyperlapse does not force the new user to create an account or sign in. The app uses a free sample approach to introduce the new user to Hyperlapse functionality and allows him to save the results directly to his camera reel. It only prompts him to sign up if he attempts to share his work via Instagram.
• The app progressively prompts the user for access to his camera, microphone, and photos at meaningful moments, instead of bombarding him with these prompts at first launch.

To be improved:
• The intro tour seems superfluous, given the app’s focus on letting a new user jump in and try things. It is difficult to read the text or see progress indicators because of background video. The value of the tour is not in describing the app’s features, but in showcasing what Hyperlapses actually are. I might recommend instead, then, that the app encourage new users to explore a gallery of pre-made Hyperlapses and give them the option of creating their own.
• The popover describing the “Record” button might be avoided simply by labeling that button more clearly or using standardized iconography.

Yik Yak for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Yik Yak is one of the few social networking experiences that does not require a new user to create an account to view or share content—it provides immediate exposure as a free sample. As a result, the new user is immediately able to jump into the product, instead of spending his first few moments reading an intro tour or signing up for yet another account with his personal information.
  • The app clearly indicates why it needs a new user’s location data, and shows this reasoning before prompting with the standard iOS location services prompt.

To be improved:

  • This app is an example of why, at times, guided interaction is the best way to handle first time user experiences. While the app does well in letting users jump right into things, it doesn’t provide enough initial help to get the new user started on a successful path. If there are no “Yaks” in the new user’s area (which you can see by the second screen, which appears empty), the user is faced with a completely blank slate. This is a missed opportunity to educate the user on what Yaks are, or how to be the first to create one in his area.

Waze for Android first time user experience

The good bits:

  • For folks familiar with past versions of Waze, the app’s new first run experience has much improved. It used to be that new users needed to watch a video/swipe through an animated intro tour before they could access the map. But now, the new user gets quickly placed into map mode. The videos and feature content are still there, but accessible instead through an introductory message from the map and through it’s help/about section. 
  • The app provides modeless, inline tips for users to read at the bottom of the map screen, instead of interrupting them with modal popovers or an intro tour.

To be improved:

  • As first impressions go, the new user may be put off by the 2 “messy” screens seen on first run. Aside from the sometimes-unpredictable manual location selector (I triggered this despite having location services turned on), the required end user license agreement can come across as especially daunting. The EULA not only raises questions early on about privacy, but gets in the way of that quick entry into map mode. 
  • The introduction to the user’s avatar on first launch via the “Meet your Wazer” popup may be unnecessary, and can certainly be confusing. This is because it appears out of context from what the new user sees next. When she enters the map for the first time, this pink Wazer icon is not shown. Instead, the new user is represented as a blue arrow. There’s no clear link between that “Meet your Wazer” dialog and the user’s actual avatar. The dialog seems to suffer a problem that also plagues intro tours: describing features that are not yet relevant to the new user, which can ultimately confuse instead of inspire.

Beats Music for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Beats Music learns about the user’s music preferences through a highly interactive music taste selector, after he signs up for an account. The explicit customization comes in 2 steps: first, the user selects the music genres he likes and hates; then, he gets to choose specific artists he likes or hates from those genres. The interface for this selection is fluid and more artists can be populated at any time. During the process, the user can clearly see at the top of the screen how many more selections he has to make in order to finish building his taste profile.
  • Thanks to this bit of customization, the new user immediately sees content that is relevant to him. This personal focus helps ensure engagement and attention.
  • The app then introduces the new user to various sections through the use of inline cues and hints.

To be improved:

  • Although Beats advertises a 14 day free trial, it is not truly free. The user still needs to create an account to make use of it. Beats should consider that information is a form of currency, and that it is asking for the new user to entrust the app with his information before he’s been given any value. It is especially misleading that the button labelled “Get started” opens up a panel with icons representing registration options. The app could consider providing the 14 day free trial to those even without an account required, and should make it clear why an account is needed to customize music tastes.