When a user first opens your website or your mobile app they have subconsciously given you just minutes, maybe even only seconds, to sway them into using your service. That means these brief moments have to matter. The user experience (UX) in this brief encounter is key to everything else that will happen for your user and your business from there on in.
Here I am going to explain the three most common pitfalls of the 'onboarding' experience of many digital products. I will use mobile apps for my main examples, as on mobile it is even more conspicuous how important these first steps are.
Why Am I Here?
This is particularly common in mobile. Businesses think that the time between downloading and then opening the app, the user will remember the core functionalities and what that app is going to do to make their life better, easier, cooler. In relaity, the likelihood is that the customer has lots of other things going on and when they open the app they need a pretty attractive reminder of why they are there. Many apps have a tendency to open with a staid sign up screen and that's it. Customers want to know why they are going to bother giving you even a button press of their time and details.
Here are some examples of well done landing screens and pages:
Give me Something Useful, Quickly
It can be tempting to try and obtain all the info your company desires from your customer at the get go. No user finds it appealing to spend their precious time filling out endless fields of personal details. If you really must have a registration flow before your user can get going, implement a Twitter, FB, Linkedin or Google sign up (whichever matches your demographic best) to allow it to be as speedy as possible. If you truly need more details than this, get them later once your customer is already happily devoted to your app or website.
Do consider ways to delay registration until the customer is getting something of value at that stage. The Hotel Tonight app does a great job of this.
Once I choose a hotel to book, the app asks me for my details. Awesome! I am ready to give my details now, as I actually want to use a service of value to me. How would I have felt if the app has asked me for my details on the first screen or before I had seen the choice of hotels? Less tempting right?
It is common that your service requires your customer to add their own content, whether it be friends, followers, music, articles, bookings and more. Remember, the first time they come to these pages, they need to be seduced into adding their own content and making the product feel as rich as you know it can be. An empty vacuous screen does nothing to coax your customer to put in this effort. Spend some time on your 'empty' pages (empty data sets), make them informative AND delightful.
There is some important food for thought here to ensure a well thought out user journey through the onboarding process. This is a challenging UX area, so use all the UX resources you have available to do this well.Don't lose your customers before the start line.