Two weeks ago I launched a closed alpha test for my new app, Wrapped Up. On the list of testers were, of course, my parents who wanted to see what their daughter was working on. Since I believe the app has an appeal to a more mature demographic I was eager to get their feedback. I got this response: “We managed to download the app and I opened the first window but it’s stuck. Oh well, we won’t bother you any more.” It took me a while to understand that the swiping through the intro was completely unclear to them and that this minor setback is enough to discourage use of the application completely.
One of my PM objectives when designing Wrapped Up was to not reinvent the usability wheel. That is, to use familiar UI conventions whenever possible, which, given the simple-ness of my app, was almost everywhere. One of these features was the “warm welcome” sequence of screens that is part of the onboarding process. It seems simple enough: four screens that users can swipe left on to continue which introduce some of the app’s features. Four dots at the bottom indicate progress through the welcome and how many screens there are. I was so sure of this convention that I only looked at a few apps and decided to go ahead with the four dot design.
So my first response to my parents’ troubles was that it’s OK, it’s just one user, everyone understands onboarding happens by swiping left. Yet upon further thinking it was obvious that no, not everyone understands what I believed to be a UI standard and yes, I do want this group as users of my app. So I did some more research, asked for more feedback, and realized that while the progress-dots-only approach was common, it was most often paired with another icon to indicate how to proceed, such as a > chevron. Initially I was so sure of the UI standard for onboarding that I got some confirming evidence and left it at that. I decided to add a chevron to each of the screens in Wrapped Up, along with a DONE button at the end.
Lesson learned. When users take the time to offer feedback, don’t discount it with the this-is-common-and-everyone-does-this rationale. That’s a dangerous trap to fall into. It may be familiar to you, but (say it with me!) you are not the user.