2013-04-18

How Facebook Design Researchers Evaluate The First-Time User Experience

In a previous story, we talked to Foursquare's head of data and search about how to collect data from users without friction. We sat down with Facebook UX Researcher Marco De Sa to learn his thoughts on enticing first-time users.



It’s perhaps the most critical step in user adoption: the First-Time User Experience, or FTUE. The FTUE takes many forms: It can be the initial setup screen requesting users enter information that will help make their experience better, or the overlays describing what buttons do. Make your app's first impression positive, and you've won a repeat user. Add too much cognitive load and you'll turn them away.

In a previous story, we talked to Foursquare's head of data and search about how to collect data from users without friction. We sat down with Facebook UX Researcher Marco De Sa to learn his thoughts on enticing first-time users. You can read the rest of this interview here.

What are you looking for in a first time user experience?

I worked quite a bit on the new user experience. We tried to understand: What were the gestures that people got right away, gestures that really didn't need any explanation? What were the things that weren't as clear, where we have to to assist people for the first experience so that they could start using it right away? For the first user experience, we feel like most of the gestures, most of the interactions are pretty obvious and pretty intuitive. We did a lot of tests and people were, finding out what to do and exploring the app or the product very quickly without any hiccups and it was pretty easy and intuitive to use. Still, we thought that for people who haven't been using an Android phone, for instance, or are new to a smartphone trying to provide some instruction and knowledge to use Facebook Home with ease would be still a good idea. So, we did do some research. We tried to understand what were the things that wouldn't be as clear for some users. We experimented with a few prototypes of the first user experience, new user experience and we ended up with what we have now, which we feel is like the best. One of the things that is very important is to make it in a way that it's not intrusive, that it doesn't break up the first impression and experience that you have, which is something so surprising and so cool. [To test it] I intercepted people walking around [Facebook] campus. I showed them and got their first impressions on looking at Facebook Home, how they'd react, what they expected that they could do over the content that they were seeing and that was the way we got to understand how people would learn, what were the difficulties that they would find trying to use it for the first time. We actually saw some patterns emerge and some of those things coming across over different approaches kind of were the ones that we had to prioritize.


Need advice on creating a killer first-time user experience? We’re tracking the best ideas in this ongoing story: The First-Time User Experience: What Developers Need To Know.


[Image: Flickr user Viktor Rosenfeld]