Notes on Scott Belsky’s Crafting the First Mile of Product

(from Scott’s 6/21/16 post on medium.com, link here)

Over time, product leaders can become more focused on a small group of existing power users than on widening the group of new users and their “first mile” (onboarding) experience of the software

This top-of-the-funnel experience is often slighted out of haste to initially release the software and never gets updated or iterated to match the evolving user base

Users onboarding want to know:

  • Why they’re there
  • What they can accomplish
  • What to do next. They don’t need to know everything at this point, too much to remember!

Optimize your onboarding for the first 15 second of Laziness, Vanity and Selfishness:

  • Lazy in the sense that user don’t have time / don’t want  to invest in learning your software
  • Vain in that they want to look good quickly using your product
  • Selfish in that users are looking for immediate benefits at this point—not the big picture potential and purpose of service! Offer immediate utility first and build to long term promise

Don’t explain how to use the product

  • Show how to use it via tool tips, mini-animations etc
  • Better yet, do something proactively for the user that will help them feel successful from the start. The devil’s in the defaults

Provide a method for ego analytics

  • In Instagram, it’s the pop up indicator with the number of hearts you see on launch

Make sure empty states are engaging and informative

If you decide vary from widely adopted terminology and functionality, make sure the benefits and unique values of your variation outweigh the expense of making people learn them

For a product with aggressive growth aspirations, Scott believes 30%+ of your energy should be devoted to the first mile

Remember that new types of new users are real source of growth and keep re-investing in first mile activities that satisfy the new folks

The failure to continuously and vigorously focus on the first mile is often what allows products to become bloating with complex features over time

About Scott (from his post): 

Scott Belsky

Investor @Benchmark; Entrepreneur/Founder @Behance (acq by @Adobe), @99U, Author of Making Ideas Happen http://scottbelsky.com

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