The Tension in a Good FUX

I think the title says it all, don't you?

a geek trapped in a cool guy's body presents an article by Jason Kemp 2016-09-21

You are on some company’s website, interested in their product. It’s packed with features you need. The screenshots look fabulous: So many gradients! You make the decision to download the trial. You click download on the menu, navigate to the download page. There’s a form with 10 text boxes to fill out. You close the browser tab.

This is often the case for enterprise software: they want to vet you right away to see if you’re a good candidate to go after. It could mean martini lunches and golf trips for the sales guys, while the developers work extra hard back at the office getting that TPS report cover letter generator feature working. Sigh, you can probably tell which group I was in.

Conversely, I’m sure you’ve been asked to just enter just your email address. Then follow-up emails start showing up with subjects like, Dear Neonballs, how is your software going or Hey studmuffin86, having trouble getting started?. These are amusing in their clumsiness: you’re likely not going to use that software either.

These are analogous to the First User Experience (FUX) of an app.

If the onboarding is long and convoluted, people will just stop halfway through; conversely, slam a login/signup screen in their faces first thing, they won’t sign up.

I’ve noticed the latter in many health and fitness apps. I find it presumptuous on the app maker, but I don’t have their numbers. I usually just close the app right away. Good thing Kapowski has no accounts to speak of—well, for this version \.

So what makes a good FUX?

A good maxim for any good user experience is: don’t waste the user’s time. Those fancy loading screens? Spend the time perfecting caching on the server and client instead, so you don’t need a fancy loading screen. Also, just use a spinner. No one cares about your loading screen.

Netflix has a great user experience: Pick the profile. Tap once more, you’re watching a show. They realize no one gives a shit about Netflix, the brand; people want to watch their show. Netflix doesn’t waste my time.

Every website that’s all parallax and stock photos? Where it’s not obvious what’s a link? Pretty, but wasting time.

Within your app, don’t waste their time with anything that doesn’t serve the purpose of using the app. Keep animation short and subtle, don’t use too much colour in the chrome. Make it fast and obvious.

Remember my analogy last time about a big splash versus ripples in the water?

The first time is wildly different than every other time a user opens your app.

The first time, they don’t know what’s going on; it’s all new.

A good FUX is slower paced than the app, but not too slow; it’s prettier than the app, but not too pretty. A good FUX informs but doesn’t drone on. And, also, it doesn’t waste the user’s time. What’s truly important to know or configure in your app? That goes in the onboarding flow. For everything else, pick sensible defaults.

Apps require a pithy phrase to describe their value. It’s always good to return to that when in doubt.

We’ll go through the Kapowski FUX next time.