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.

Timeful for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • Timely’s intro tour is simple and clearly shows the UI instead of using abstract imagery

To be improved:

  • The forced intro tour doesn’t have a clear skip action; the forward arrow is disabled while animations play.
  •  The app forces a user to create an account before he can move forward. This can be a hard sell for a user who already has a calendar on his phone. The app could consider demoing its capabilities by simply asking to access the calendar first, letting the user try it out before he has to worry about tethering his calendar data to an external account.

SongCloud for iPhone first time user experience

The good bits:

  • SongCloud shows an intro tour but allows users to quickly get started via an omnipresent action at the bottom of the screen
  • There is no prompt to sign up before the new user can start streaming music. The new user can immediately start experiencing the value of the product. This is a great use of the free sample pattern.
  • The initial view of the app is well-focused; instead of a complicated list of stations, it focuses the user on exploring trending music.
  • Sign up prompts are limited to when a user tries to access functionality such as sharing or saving to a playlist.

To be improved:

  • The intro tour in the beginning spends its energy trying to describe UI functionality, when this kind of explanation might be best used in a user guided tour context where hints appear to the user as explores the interface.
  • It would be interesting for SongCloud to add a layer of personalization for the new user by asking her about her music interests before going straight to trending music.