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Initial User Experience Suggestions...

Hey All,

I'm getting ready to release a new app (a bill manager app for Windows) and I'm pounding pretty hard on the initial user experience (Golden Hour) right now.

I've made sure the user doesn't just get dropped into an empty (no data) main screen. I've made the UI as "pretty" and modern as I can, and I'm working on a first run walkthrough.

Any other general suggestions (or links to suggestions) regarding the initial user experience?

Thanks,
Bret
Bret Reece Send private email
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
 
 
Some of the things I hate in software...

- Pop-up welcome windows with a "show this every time the app starts" check box that I have to untick.

- "Tip-of the day" boxes.

- "Would you like to run the app at at startup" boxes.

- Pop-up "Would you like to join our mailing list" boxes.

- Pop-up "I see you have been using it for a while, please tell us what you think" boxes

Anything like that just gets my goat.

A simple, one-off welcome screen is fine. Also, more subtle things like "click here to start" arrows and (unobtrusive) interactive walkthroughs are nice. But only in small measure - the app should quickly get out of my face.
Nick Moore Send private email
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
 
 
>I'm getting ready to release a new app (a bill manager app for Windows) and I'm pounding pretty hard on the initial user experience (Golden Hour) right now.

Is that the term?  "Golden hour"?    Huh.

> I've made sure the user doesn't just get dropped into an empty (no data) main screen.

How?  What do they encounter?

> I've made the UI as "pretty" and modern as I can, and I'm working on a first run walkthrough.

Pretty and modern = native widgets?  I'm curious. 

> Any other general suggestions (or links to suggestions) regarding the initial user experience?

Splash screen if loading is more than 1-2 seconds?  I can't think of anything else.
Racky Send private email
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
 
 
"Welcome" page with useful links (tutorial, what's new, etc). Like modern IDEs do. Once it's closed  it never displayed again unless user chooses to.
Maksym Sherbinin Send private email
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
 
 
"the app should quickly get out of my face"
Can't argue with that.  Your list is pretty close to my top 5 hates. 

"A simple, one-off welcome screen is fine"
As long as it closes itself in about the time it takes me to find the "X" or OK button to close it manually.  I was going to say the splash screen is a lost art, but really what happened was someone decided a splash screen wasn't just for giving the user something to look at while program settings are being loaded.  So now we have these insulting dialogs that have to be clicked through in order to see the initial screen.  QuickBooks is a prime example.

I would like to see an obvious one-click path to a comprehensive and intelligent help system, on every screen.  At a minimum have that button go to simple instructions on how to exit the program without losing whatever you've input and reverting all the user settings back to what they were before the user started monkeying around with them.
Howard Ness Send private email
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
 
 
>Any other general suggestions (or links to suggestions) regarding the initial user experience?

Have you sat and watched someone (preferably in your target market) actually try to use it? There is no substitute for that. You can do it remotely by screen share (e.g. skype) if you can't do it in person. Just sit there in complete silence. Don't help them. It can be a very painful experience, but it is always very enlightening.

See also:
http://successfulsoftware.net/2008/01/29/seeing-your-software-through-your-customers-eyes/
Andy Brice Send private email
Friday, February 15, 2013
 
 
Doing usability testing is a good way to tell how people are going to react to your UI. A couple good books on usability testing I've read are User Interface Design by Soren Lausen and Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
Jason Swett Send private email
Friday, February 15, 2013
 
 
The formal usability stuff is overkill, you don't need it to find the major problems.

Joel's Hallway Usability Testing is one easy way - grab the next person that walks by and have them try to do stuff on your design, while offering them no assistance.

I find it even more helpful to have people who don't know anything about the task take a look too - these people will diagnose problems in navigation, logging in, and so forth.
Scott Send private email
Friday, February 15, 2013
 
 
Very important is not to prompt or tutor them. If they can't log in, redesign the login until they can, and only then proceed. Might have to have another tester by that point as the first one left.
Scott Send private email
Friday, February 15, 2013
 
 

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