2 weeks ago, Christian Oestlien, in his Twitter account, proudly announced that after months of effort, the Twitter team rolled out a new onboarding process for new users of the 2nd most popular social network in the world (based on Alexa rating).
FYI: Check out the old version of Twitter’s mobile app onboarding process
That is what compelled me to write on the topic of onboarding for my very first time. Twitter’s previous signup flow was ok, but they misunderstood their own communication value. But does this one makes it better? Starting to Sign-up for a new account…
It looks like Twitter decided not to address the issue of suggested names. This time I’ll take @12341667777 [sarcasm]. NOTE: This is caused by the presence of numbers in my email address, which is normal for older internet users who like to add their age or year of birth to make their email names unique. For example: Robert_1966@gmail.com
Twitter earns extra UI/UX points with suggestions feature, which automatically changes names in case I’ve entered a custom name which has already been reserved.
We are all set and ready to dive in to the new onboarding wizard. The first step is different from the old blank timeline that had instructions on how to use it. Here we get a lovely welcome and, in my opinion, a not-so-clear description of the service: ”the coolest, most important news, media, sports, TV, conversations and more.”
When I look at any new service, I want a very clear description of the value I’ll get when I sign up – ASAP, and in language I understand. For me, Twitter is an opportunity to easily build professional communities, and get the latest news from people I care about; not just follow brands and celebrities.
The next step shows me some sort of personalized list of interests to choose, which is apparently just randomly sorted. I discovered this by creating two new accounts from two different computers in the office. (Isn’t randomness wonderful <wink>?)
The interests listed above are not my real interests. For this experiment, I’ve chosen “TV”. Adding a ‘None of these’ button at the bottom of the list, the updated onboarding flow would be much easier for the user.
“Suggestions for you”, is what they call the next step in the new sign-up process. Here we see a list of tweets made by accounts selected based on my chosen interests. I see The Family Guy and the famous Homer Simpson. That’s nice. But, where is my neighbor Nate, who is tweeting like crazy about his Game of Thrones experience?
Oh! Now I see the bigger picture, as mentioned on the first splash screen…
Twitter is “a constantly updating stream of the coolest, most important news, media, sports, TV, conversations and more”. So basically, I can only check out celebrities and brands at the start – check cold tweets with tons of retweets, and never get a response to my tweet which mention Johnny Depp and his bad movie performance.
My neighbor, in this kind of environment, becomes ‘conversations and more – which for me is more important than checking out HBO promo tweets or Carmen Electra’s fashion advice written by some unknown freelancers. For me, Twitter is a communication platform, and I’m quite disappointed that Twitter doesn’t understand this.
Congratulations to anyone who actually makes it to the end and chose the “right” people to follow, because in order to get the next selection of suggested people, you need to remove (delete) all of the previously suggested people by clicking the “X” button next to their last tweet. This seems like a trick to exhaust users and force to them to follow accounts which are statistically more likely to keep new users from deleting their accounts. Pretty tricky, Twitter!
After passing 3 Steps of suggestions I finally got in to the amazing world of Twitter. Tutorials on to how to use the web site are no longer available. Now, you are on your own with an empty, unfriendly “Welcome” screen and tweets of your new superstar “friends”.
However, Twitter does motivate you to create your first tweet, which is great (Homer should know that I’m here and ready to talk). It includes a prewritten message and even a hashtag #myfirstTweet. You can even check the effectiveness of this approach by searching for this hashtag.
Epic failure occurred when I discovered that I’m being followed by 4 accounts. How is this possible for a brand new user? I later learned that these were fake accounts that use photos of stunningly beautiful girls as profile pictures… Sure, Twitter does this based on their analysis of tons of data on user behavior. This might help them reduce churn, but I’m sure there are more ethical tactics to accomplish this.
Without a doubt, the new flow looks more effective for Twitter’s shareholders (the company still does not earn a cent)… Putting people in front of big brands and hanging onto them longer will provide a nice background to launch new advertising schemes. This will totally destroy the communication platform that is so loved by millions of internet users. To me, the previous version was more user-focused, with tutorials and how-to’s, instead of forcing you to follow 50+ pre-selected accounts.
In conclusion, I would like to share my top 5 suggestions, which you can implement today in your own onboarding process, thereby increasing the conversion rate of your service.
Create a Welcome screen
Clearly show your honest feeling after a new user joined your family. Personally, I like to see the CEO’s photo on it. Make them feel like they are friends of your friends you’ve never met, but are welcoming them into your house on Thanksgiving Day.
Add one sentence to the sign-up screen which will describe the main value users will get after registering with your service. Think about how users will describe this value in language that they normally use.
Give users instruments to pass your onboarding as quickly as possible – avoid long lists, “too many” clicks. Use searches, and/or synchronize with social accounts, instead.
Be data driven
Sure, Twitter did a lot of analysis of their user data before designing a new onboarding flow, and so do you. Analyze data from power users. Try to understand why they have remained for so long and then use this information. I recommend Kissmetrics and ClickTale for your data collection.
Show value ASAP
This is the onboarding mantra, think of the value and show it… Refer to prewritten tweets and hashtags… that is a good start – but you need to think more deeply: What do your premium users expect from the service, and give that to new users as quickly as possible.
Thank you for reading! Please share your thoughts, leave your comments below or email me at