IFTTT for Android first time user experience

IFTTT allows users to create “If This, Then That” combinations that allow them to use one service or device to trigger actions via other services or devices. A complete trigger/action set is called a recipe.

The good bits:

  • After the intro tour, IFTTT suggests a sample recipe that will send the user a daily email digest of more recipes. This is an interesting way to open up a second communication channel with the user, to get them fresh and free samples, while avoiding sounding like a pushy newsletter signup.
  • Also after the intro tour, the app does not take the user to an empty slate or ask them to create their own IFTTT from scratch. Instead, it provides a pre-populated timeline of items that the user has unlocked, with each point on the timeline serving as browse path for exploring various recipes.  The app emphasizes existing recipes over brand new ones to help users learn how they work.

To be improved:

  • The intro tour is lengthy and provides no skip action. The 2nd, 3rd and 5th panels are the most helpful because they represent how actual recipes look in-app, but the rest are abstract.
  • The intro tour and starting timeline may come across as daunting and foreign to new users because they introduce lot of product-centric language very quickly (for example, recipes, channels, and the concept of unlocking channels). Instead, these areas should focus on demonstrating the power of recipes/channels before diving into their nomenclature. If the app presented the 5th intro tour panel or a sample IFTTT earlier on, the new user could more easily see what he can do with the product and why he should care. Once the value is established the app could dive into the structure of things. 
  • The app forces signup before a user can explore any recipes. It’s not made very clear why an IFTTT account is even necessary, since each channel requires a separate login.
  • I would challenge the makers of IFTTT to provide recipes a user can try or create before potentially deterring him with a sign-in prompt. Make it a fun and interactive introductory experience to pique the user’s curiosity. The daily email recipe, for example, could be done without an IFTTT account if the app leveraged the account tied to the user’s phone. 

Android Wear / Gear Live first time user experience

The above images represent the setup experience for a Gear Live Android Wear smart watch. 

The good bits:

  • The phone drives much of the device setup so that the user does not have to read instructions on the watch screen. This proves particularly helpful with the Gear Live, because its screen kept going to sleep every 3 seconds. Although not necessary to reference, the printed device manual also repeats many of the setup instructions.
  • There is no intro tour on the phone. There is only a “Make your watch smart” screen, after which a user is immediately taken to the setup flow.
  • In the case of this particular watch, pairing was successful on the first try. However, based on experiences with past devices, it is possible that there could be issues with bluetooth pairing during the initial setup.
  • The watch provides a user-guided tutorial with embedded free samples to demonstrate Android Wear functionality. This is helpful because the watch does not have a lot of space to provide help text, and gives users without any notifications lined up something to play with. The tutorial appears immediately after pairing and takes the user through a few typical card behaviors. Confirmations and prompts move at the user’s pace. The messaging in each step is casual and progressive, moving from phrases like “Easy, right?” to “Keep swiping” to “And again for actions” and finally “Got it.”  Now, since I did not have notifications in queue at the time I was using the tutorial, I am not certain whether I would have been forced to finish it before interacting with a true notification.
  • Additionally, the user can manually trigger and explore free sample cards via the phone app. The user can pick one of many sample cards to be sent to the watch for further exploration. This helps build a user’s knowledge about different card types and gives him something to enjoy if he doesn’t yet have his own content, but doesn’t force him to go through each and every one.

To be improved:

  • The watch forces the user to pair with a phone before it provides any functionality. It won’t even display the time. That the “watch” couldn’t even show the time until paired was a disappointment for me because I initially didn’t have a phone that could run Android Wear (which I did not discover until trying to install it). 
  • There is a double confirmation for access to user data.  There was a prompt when downloading the Android Wear app from the Play Store, and a prompt on the phone’s “Make your watch smart” screen. I’m not clear what would have happened had I selected “No thanks” on the latter. 
  • The “Make your watch smart” screen is overly verbose with hard-to-read text paragraphs, which confuses its purpose. Is the goal of this screen to explain what user data will be shared (as per the prompt at the bottom) or to illustrate key features? I’d recommend this screen be revisited to shorten and focus these paragraphs.
  • While the initial device pairing was painless, my watch did randomly restart and begin updating its software without first informing me. It even failed partway through and rebooted into recovery mode. If this needs to happen after pairing, it should be communicated before the update starts (especially to give the user the opportunity to charge his watch). 
  • The printed setup manual showed screenshots from Android Wear that no longer seemed relevant to the current software.

Google’s “Cardboard” First Time User Experience.

Cardboard has both a physical and a digital component. It is a piece of cardboard (complete with lenses and NFC) that folds into the shape of VR goggles, and a person’s phone is dropped in to provide the digital side of the experience. The person then downloads the Cardboard app which runs VR-optimized experiences such as Google Earth, Street View and more. 

The good bits:

  • Cardboard provides both physical instructions and digital instructions on how to assemble the goggles. There are steps numbered on various tabs of the cardboard pieces, and a series of images provided on the website and in the Cardboard app.
  • By visiting the website or downloading the app first (access to both is printed on the outside of the physical Cardboard component as a URL and QR code) a person can see an animation that shows how the flat piece of cardboard builds up from its beginning state to its end state. There is also more information about what it is used for.
  • Once the user has assembled Cardboard and placed their Android phone into its slot, the included NFC sticker on the box tells the phone to go into “Cardboard mode”. At this point, instructions begin appearing on the screen and the user simply puts on the goggles to use them. The instructions teach the user how to return to a main menu (by tilting Cardboard) and how to select menu items (by pulling and releasing a magnet mechanism on the left side).
  • Cardboard provides free samples. Google likely realizes that people don’t already have 3D-ready content on their devices, so the company has provided sample content like a Google Street View playthrough. Kudos to Google for not falling prey to the typical intro-tour approach, instead taking users immediately to the sample content they can experience.

To be improved:

  • The printed instructions for assembling Cardboard do not provide clear next steps for a new user. While the numbering system (put tab 1 into the corresponding tab 1, for example) is meant to provide in-context instructions, and the illustration at the top to show the end state, this is not a familiar device to most people. Therefore, it’s not going to be intuitive how one can progress from step 1 to step 6—for example, there were moments when I wondered if I should be detaching parts of Cardboard to get it to bend in the odd directions suggested by conflicting tab angles. What would be clearer to the user is a series of stepped illustrations of how the device should look at the end of each step (which the website/app animations do well, but I am sure not everyone downloads those first).
  • Although the website animation is helpful, a user may not realize how to run it completely from beginning to end. There are no visible controls. Instead, the animation is scrubbed as the user scrolls down the page. Unfortunately, if a user scrolls very quickly (which many do) all they will see is a quick jump from the first state to the end state, missing the steps in between.

Video of Beatwave’s introductory tutorial. For a full review of the onboarding experience, see the full post.

Beatwave iPhone app first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Beatwave offers the new user a simple choice upon launch of the app. She can choose to jump right into the product, or view a rich media tutorial. The tutorial is not forced by default.
  • The tutorial, while presented in slideshow format, is more contextually demonstrative than typical product intros. (See the video post above to view the tutorial in action). Beatwave starts by introducing the basics of the app’s composer grid, using animations of the app’s interface paired with sound to show how to create different notes and then combine notes using multiple layers. The sound works well as a mental anchor for the lesson.
  • The tutorial is broken up into logical sections and paced by the user, instead of forcing the user to watch a long video or try to understand static screenshots.
  • During the tutorial, the user always has the option of dismissing it via the “X” at the top left of the screen.
  • The user can call up the tutorial again—including additional tutorials— from the settings screen once she is in the app.
  • The app provides the user with sample demos so that she doesn’t have to start with a blank slate.  

To be improved:

  • Most of the tutorial is helpful, but there are a few confusing panels at the end. While the first few panels are focused on extremely simple tasks that have accompanying sound to help anchor the lesson—the creation of notes on a grid, or low notes vs. high notes—the final panels are silent and briefly introduce a user to complex and custom menus that are more difficult to learn. Additionally, these more complex panels appear after 7 others, which encroaches on the typical 5-7 items that a person can store in short term memory.
  • I assume that the team also felt this way, as there is a hint that pops up over the menu control when a user gets into the main app.
  • Because the tutorial represented the UI in a realistic scale, there were many moments when I thought I needed to tap or do something on the screen to try one of the tasks the app was describing. Perhaps Beatwave could consider making some of these more interactive (this might help, especially, when it comes to the lessons regarding the custom menus or layers).
  • The tutorial does not have any form of signposting; there should be some indication of how many more lessons remain. 

FIFA iPad app first time user experience

The good bits:

  • The app does not force a user to create any sort of accountit is focused on fans who are likely eager to start catching up on stats.
  • The app has a simple 1-step setup moment at app launch, where the user selects his country.
  • After the user selects his country, the app displays a settings panel to clearly show him which game alerts he can receive. Since the app is focused on fans, this is a key customization point to ensure fans get what they need out of it.
  • There are also additional mini-games in the experience that contain their own micro-onboarding sequences. These make clever use of gesture animations to demonstrate how a user should play the game.

To be improved:

  • The 4-panel product tour is fairly superficial (it highlights the most desirable features of the interface, but this raises a question about why those would otherwise be so difficult to find). There is also no option for users to skip the intro until the last panel. If the app is dealing with eager fans, this could slow them down.
  • I’m not certain if the extra confirmation dialog asking if I was “sure” I wanted to choose USA was done in jest, but it did give me pause and created a jarring moment during such a simple, non-destructive setup action.

Hulu Plus for Android First Time User Experience

The good bits:

  • Hulu allows new users to browse and search its content titles before signing up. This gives a new user a sense of the product’s offerings before he commits to an account.
  •  A new user can also sign up for a 1-week trial membership to watch titles for free.  

To be improved:

  • Due to the number of choices on the intro screen, it can be difficult to decide which choice is the “right” one. Because browsing the content ultimately leads to a prompt to try the product, I wonder if it could be combined with the trial membership prompt. Perhaps they could join into a “Try it now” action that takes users to the content list with the large trial membership call-to-action button.
  • Although browsing Hulu’s TV & movies is a great step, there does not appear to be a way to preview the content. If a user tries to play any of the titles, he is met with the prompt to sign up or try the 1 week membership. Very quickly, users are pushed from browsing right back into information request mode, which feels a little jarring.
  • "Try 1 Week Free" involves a 3-step sign-up form. The user not only needs to commit his name, email and birth year (or Facebook login credentials), but also his credit card information. Providing a credit card up front risks distracting a customer with concerns about things like cancellation policies, instead of focusing them on getting through the trial membership sign-up. Hulu does not provide any quick-look information to reassure users about their policies (instead, they have to crack open the terms of use link).

Mailbox for Android First Time User Experience

The good bits:

  • Mailbox has a very concise intro, skipping the typical multi-panel product tour. The first screen is a simple splash that auto-scrolls after a delay to bring the user as quickly as possible to an actionable state (a prompt to log in to DropBox).
  • If pre-authorized to the user’s Gmail account, no additional login prompt is needed. All the subsequent tutorial messaging uses “Gmail” words (I’m curious if the app swaps those words out with “Exchange” if the user signs in with a non-Gmail account).
  • After signing in, Mailbox presents a welcome screen as a lead-in to tutorial content (“Get Started”). A user can choose to skip out by tapping the “x” icon.
  • If the user taps the “Get Started” button, she is presented with a unique type of user-guided tutorial. At first, it seems that she is viewing static slides not too dissimilar from the 2nd slideshow of Google Sheets. Actually, each panel presents an interactive illustration of a sample inbox. The slides progress if the user completes the specified action on the sample illustration. Each action covers one of the four main product features. This is an interesting take on the user-guided tutorial because it allows the user to play with the app’s features with dummy content, without accidentally deleting her own mail items.
  • This user-guided tutorial can be dismissed at any time, and also can serve as a diversion while accounts are being synced. 

To be improved:

  • It’s unfortunate that the forced Dropbox sign-in prompt appears before the sample tutorial. The user-guided instruction could be leveraged to help upsell new users on creating an account.
  • The wireframe style of the illustrations can make it difficult to realize that they are interactive.  The bold headlines on each panel garner the most attention, but are title-cased and seem to be speaking about a feature in general. It’s only if the user reads to the last line (“Try [feature]”) that they understand that the instruction applies to that specific moment.
  • There are 5 icons at the top of the user-guided tutorial to indicate what feature is being covered. These don’t appear to be interactive (I was trying at points to tap one to go back to a previous step) and they also don’t work well as a progress indicator because they don’t highlight from left-to-right.

Google Sheets on Android First Time User Experience

In my previous post, I looked at the onboarding experience for Google Sheets on iPhone. This is a look at the setup for Google Sheets on Android. 

The good bits:

  • Because Android leverages single sign-on for Google apps, a user who has signed into his Google Account on the phone will not see a prompt to sign in. 
  • There was no second slideshow in this experience. The only tour is the initial 4-screen intro tour. This greatly reduces the time to entry and gets a user to spreadsheets more quickly.
  • The button for “Go to sheets” is a clear way for users to skip the slideshow and jump into the product.

To be improved:

  • While it is good that the Android experience does not push the user through two consecutive slideshow flows, this means an Android user does not get the detailed instruction that was presented in the second slideshow on the iPhone version. I would recommend that Google find some way to provide this instruction inline after the user enters the app.
  • I’d also question whether the first slideshow is even necessary, since it seems the second one (which is arguably more helpful) was deemed unnecessary.

Google Sheets on iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • While the app does require a user to log in, it will create an account shortcut if the user has already signed in to Google on the device. This cuts down on unnecessary re-entering of email and password credentials.
  • The user can skip the first product slideshow using the “Get started” button.

To be improved:

  • Sheets for iPhone uses 2 product tour slideshows sandwiched around the sign-in prompt. The first 4-panel slideshow is focused on high-level features, whereas the second 3-panel slideshow provides detailed instruction. The problem with this approach is that it front-loads a lot of information that the user needs to maintain even before he is in the context of the app. This heavy cognitive load can result in a large portion of the information being forgotten. Interestingly, the second slideshow does not provide a way for the user to skip ahead.
  • The second slideshow creates a jarring repetition and a possible confusion point. At this stage the user has tapped a “Get started” button, signed in, and answered a prompt for sending feedback. At this point he may truly be expecting to “get started” with his documents. Instead, he is shown another slideshow. He may even think it is a duplicate of the first one. In either case, he may quickly scroll ahead and ignore the information so he can get on with his work. A better approach might be to show this content if it appears the user has trouble in the app, or integrate it more as inline help content.
  • Sheets forces the user to log in, and provides no way for someone to create or try out content without tethering the app to their Google account. I understand this is the approach Google takes across the board, but it would be interesting for them to allow users to create content without an account, or even set up a default account until they sync to a different one. 
  • There is no way to recall the contents of the second slideshow.