Games have some of the best onboarding flows. 'Time-to-fun' is a key metric in game design relevant for all software. As apps that compete for free time, games deliver value quickly & unpack complexity slowly. Thread below on onboarding best practices from games
1/ Time-to-fun is how long it takes a product to deliver value (h/t @ibjade)
Top mobile games have TTF <60secs. Longer TTF = greater risk users churn to social media, netflix etc
High utility apps (ex. email, banking) can have high TTF, but shorter still better. Users are busy!
2/ Take Tencent's @PlayCODMobile (>300M downloads) for example:
Upon opening the app, users enter a name and are immediately parachuted into action. No account set-up, cutscenes, or customization options (revealed later). TTF is measured in seconds
3/ CODM encourages learning by doing
Users learn the controls as they run mission 1, with contextual overlays popping up in real-time. Note each overlay teaches only 1 new button at a time, helping users master an action before a more complex task (run, pick, shoot)
4/ CODM also builds user confidence before ramping up complexity
After bootcamp, your first multiplayer match is against AI bots who ensure that you always win. The game obscures this by naming the bots with the callsigns of offline human players
5/ Over the next few matches, human players are trickled in but there are always enough bots so a player's kill count remains high. This builds the player's confidence and provides a safe space to experiment
Note the match below racked up a whopping 61 kills in ~5mins
6/ Eventually, the player faces off against a full human team of higher skill and loses their first game, but by then the player is 20mins in and fully hooked
Only after the player has had 'fun' does the game reveal its monetization & customization systems
7/ @SlackHQ uses many of the above design principles in onboarding
New users are greeted with a tutorial that immediately delivers the product's core value - messaging a teammate - even before profile set-up. Slack's TTF is <30secs, on par with top mobile games!
8/ Similar to CODM, Slack does a great job of using contextual overlays to visually highlight where users should click next
Most users learn by doing in this way, not by reading lengthy FAQs
9/ What about products that require a lot of upfront training? The email app @Superhuman uses 1:1 onboarding to accelerate TTF
A Superhuman rep helps every new user set up a personalized inbox based on their workflow. Value starts being delivered even during training
10/ And like CODM, much of @Superhuman's complexity is revealed to users as they progress in the app. Keyboard shortcuts are taught using contextual pop-ups and command line suggestions. Over time, users climb the mastery curve to inbox zero
Wrap/ As user acquisition costs rise, good onboarding has become critical to retaining every hard-won user. Time-to-fun is a useful onboarding framework from games with broad applications
Next time, keep TTF in mind and deliver value to users quickly!