Most websites are terrible at user onboarding. Especially the social ones. There’s a lot of great services out there that are just hard to get into.
Twitter suffers from a uniquely virulent variant of user onboarding issues - when explained to a non-early adopter/innovator, that person says “Why would I want that?” And then you have to explain that it’s cool and really fun, despite doing nothing that sounds cool nor fun. But really, once you get into it, it’s fun.
Here, we can watch Kevin Spacey attempt to explain Twitter to David Letterman.
Dick Costolo, Twitter’s COO, even admits that Twitter sucks at user onboarding :
“It’s no secret that when you sign up for Twitter, you fly into this cliff and catch fire. If you’re a brave soul and climb back up the cliff, you can look over and see the vistas beyond, you might be able to figure out how to use it. So we’ve got this onboarding challenge…”
- Dick Costolo at the Real-Time Crunch Up (TechCrunch was kind enough to give me a free ticket to that event.)
As both Costolo and Letterman have figured out, Twitter doesn’t make sense when it’s first explained to you. It just doesn’t.
But then you start to use it, connect with it, express yourself with it, and some magic starts to happen.
Immediately, new users (who I will henceforth refer to as “nusers”) figure out that they can earn badges. Then, they understand that they can become mayor of places. Nusers can also integrate their social feeds on day one.
Soon after that, a nuser will try to check in somewhere and find it isn’t on the map. Then, the nuser will then add the place.
The game teaches you to use the social network. The social network encourages you to play the game. And all around, users are delighted.
(Don’t worry, loyal readers, we will return to Foursquare in a future post, and what I think they should do given the recent entry of Yelp into their space.)
Conclusion: Be kind to your users – teach them how to use your service effectively.
How did you learn to use FourSquare? Leave a comment….