| On-boarding and user workflow - Gwynnie Bee |


Recently I got to work on improving the user on-boarding experience for Gwynnie Bee (Gbee) through its mobile app.
Here's a brief summary of my experience and learnings.

Why do we even bother about on-boarding

Before even approaching the problem, it's handy to take a step back and see what is user on-boarding all about.
Not in some technical / management jargon but just trying to keep the larger picture in mind.

On-boarding from a user's perspective
- Why : To help me use the app better - When: Whenever I need help; which is usually at the beginning - How : Just show me what and how and I will take care of myself

On-boarding from a product manager's perspective
- Why : To improve user activation, adoption & retention - When: Throughout the customer life-cycle, as required - How : Focus on removing the hurdles in the way of user using the service

Success metrics for on-boarding process

The big picture view is fine to keep on track. But how would you really know even if you had the best on-boarding flow possible?

Decide what you are optimizing for - User activity : Current active users (absolute numbers as well as percentages) - User Engagement : Number and percentages of users by - Different stages of the service discovery funnel (e.g. install / first launch or activation / discovery / registration / billing) - Session length in different features - By frequency of usage - By work-flow right before un-install - Other such metrics, as needed

Take baseline measurements of decided metrics and compare regularly after implementing the new on-boarding flow

An aside about relationship between on-boarding and app workflow

A good on-boarding process should maximize the chances of users progressing through the funnel leading up to the final goals.
But sometimes, the goals set by the product team differs from that of the users.

For example, if the product team wants to maximize user registrations, they may put up a mandatory registration screen right at the beginning of the workflow. But more often than not, a user would want to look around to get a clear idea of the product-value before committing to it by registering.

Such workflow designs should be the exceptions rather than the norm as these are just create friction in the users' way discovering and using your services. You can always try to encourage the user to register but they should not be forced to provide any more details than absolutely mandatory for providing the service intended.

No amount of on-boarding can really offset the friction, such as above, stemming from a poor app workflow.

Back to on-boarding - how to go about it?

The actual ideal process may vary from one product to another. It will also depend on the on-boarding stage you are at or the specific metrics you are trying to optimize.

But there are a few thing to keep in mind: - On-boarding is NOT a one time activity - On-boarding as a process has to be there at the beginning to let the user know - It has to be available contextually whenever there is a new feature to explore - On-boarding does not have to be limited just to the app itself - Welcome message via text / email are vital hooks, in case the user never activates the app after installing - Nudges to an inactive user through app notifications / text / email are all closely related to on-boarding - if not part of the process itself - On-boarding as part of product development needs to be revisited regularly - helps to spot issues in user engagement - also helps in identifying difficult / confusing/ / sub-optimal app workflows

Some of my favorite on-boarding examples (in no particular order) - Allo the game - Workflowy (?)

Further References
You may find the below resources really helpful for a progressively deeper review of the topic: 1. https://www.usertesting.com/blog/user-onboarding-techniques-for-mobile-apps/ 2. https://medium.com/@the_manifest/6-user-onboarding-flows-for-mobile-apps-ef974a330ac1 3. https://www.intercom.com/blog/c-a-r-e-simple-framework-user-onboarding/ 4. https://www.intercom.com/books/onboarding

The case of Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee is essentially a womens' clothing rental with a subscription model.

Current state of the app - the experience

Since the native app development has hardly started, I would not focus on the app specific issues at this stage. But a 30 seconds wait on the splash screen - on any device - is appalling! And this was a recurring wait across multiple launches.

As the app is essentially a wrapper for the website, the rest of the current workflow discussion is based on the website workflow.

Which brings me to the unhandled exceptions such as JS support not available or cross-origin and remote fonts blocked. Gbee's website is guilty of being part of a prevalent culture these days of not handling such situations.

Even in the view of Gbee's target segment - young, fashion conscious women, leaving the exceptional use-cases unhandled based on assumptions about the user is just lazy and irresponsible. It is definitely going on my "JS hall of shame" list
But I digress.

Current workflow

This is a classic case of sub-optimal workflow hindering user experience by trying to increase registration at the cost of wider user-discovery / adoption.

  1. No way to experience the complete flow without actually registering for the service
  2. There is no way to register without subscribing

So, essentially the users are being stopped from discovering the value from the service without agreeing to subscribe.

This underlying workflow needs to be fixed before moving on to create a good on-boarding experience.

What should be the ideal experience + on-boarding workflow

If you are a clothing provider, a user should feel the same or higher level of comfort and joy of shopping when she goes to her favorite store or finds an amazing new one in the real world. Imagine your reaction if your favorite store would not even let you in before you handing over your name, email address, postal address and credit-card details first. Would not remain your favorite for long, would it?

And that goes for all the products / services. Encourage your users to do more, not less.

I am sure I have left out a lot of good points and / or simply might have been wrong about some of them. Please feel free to share your thoughts.