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I'm building an iPhone app that shows several introduction screens to the user before presenting the main user interface. This is accomplished once, on first launch. My intention is to make the first impression a smooth one by explaining some of the most important options.

The screens are

Welcome
Terms and Conditions
Set Up Passcode lock
Enable GPS for weather updates
Generate demo data to populate app's screens
Finally, an option to view web manual.

Each screen has a single "action" button (towards the bottom), and a "next/skip" on top. Each screen has a little bit of instructional text on what the option is about.

Two of the screens have 10 second or so operations with the loading indicator. One is mandatory, another one is optional.

I'm wandering, from a user experience stand point, how do users feel about such intro sequences? Are they helpful, or am I over-thinking, and users just want to jump into an app? Which options are absolutely necessary, and which ones can be excluded from such introductions?

Thank you for your thoughts on the subject!

Sample Intro Screen

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1  
My gut says that nobody will read the Web manual until they have tried the app and gotten stuck, so you could move that one to a menu option elsewhere. –  Steve Oct 28 '12 at 9:51
    
Those seem to be less about an intro and more about a setup wizard. Perhaps immediate launch the main screen but have a large 'setup' button. –  DA01 Oct 29 '12 at 1:02
1  
How does a "Terms and Conditions" page give me, as a user, a smooth first impression? –  André Oct 29 '12 at 8:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think Apple's guidelines suggest to minimize the number of those intro screens (preferably not have any), hence users have come to expect not many (if any) startup/setup screens. You should definitely let users get into the app as soon as possible.

From Apple's iOS UX guidelines:

Avoid asking people to supply setup information. Instead, follow these guidelines: Focus your solution on the needs of 80 percent of your users. When you do this, the majority of users do not need to supply settings because your app is already set up to behave the way they expect. If there is functionality that only a handful of people might want, or that most people might want only once, leave it out. Get as much information as possible from other sources. If you can use any of the information people supply in built-in app or device settings, query the system for these values; don’t ask people to enter them again. If you must ask for setup information, prompt people to enter it within your app. Then, as soon as possible, store this information (possibly, in your app’s settings). This way, people aren’t forced to quit your app and open Settings before they get the chance to enjoy your app. If people need to make changes to this information later, they can go to your app’s settings at any time. Delay a login requirement for as long as possible. Ideally, users should be able to navigate through much of your app and use some of its functionality without logging in. When you ask users to log in before they can start using your app, it can make the start-up process seem longer.

(couldn't get the above to format nicely. It's a direct copy from the page linked above so you can go to that page and search for it to see it better formatted.)

And understand that many app users will have gone through the screen shots and descriptions on the apps store or the app website before purchasing.

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+1, especially for mentioning that users likely gone through the description of the app in the app store already. –  greenforest Oct 28 '12 at 13:31

The point to keep in mind in those circumstances is that, yes, the user gets annoyed by unasked stuff when his intention is to start 'playing' with the app.

Your purposes are good, that means that the sequence of screens you are showing is aimed at helping the user and not for commercial goals. But still you are somehow constraining the movements of the user.

That said, what I would try is to reason on each point asking yourself the following questions:

  • does the user really need this information?
  • does the user need it NOW?
  • does the user need it THERE?

Translated in your case we would have:

  • welcome screen: useful for certain users
  • terms and condition: which user action needs to be anticipated by the knowledge of the toc? Can't you delay giving that information in a moment when the user really needs it?
  • gps: where does the user should see the weather updates? Througout all the app? In that case ask immediately
  • passcode: this is something the user doesn't really need immediately. Can't you inform the user about this option in the welcome screen (that's its purpose afterall) or highlight the section containing it in a way that will lead the user to access it? For instance once I've put a badge with an exclamation mark on a navigation bar button to gently make the user notice and be curious about that part of the app
  • demo data: can't you just generate them and let the user know with a label put somewhere that those data are fake? As a user I of course prefer to see something than nothing, usually. Anticipate his choice
  • web manual: I guess that will be important when the user needs help. And a '?' button on those screens where the user might need the manual could suffice

Those are of course just wild guesses, with no actial knowledge of the purpose of your app. But still it's an example about how to apply this if, when and where reasoning.

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Answer to you question is very easy -> there is zero acceptable "intro" screens in iPhone apps.

Design of an app should be as good, that you don't need any explanation to the user. It should be obvious right away after user starts using the app. Any need of adding build in tutorials or intro screens comes out of bad design. Consider redesigning your app.

You also may dispute that several well known apps do this, yes that is true, but you can do it better ;)

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

    
This is why I read UX stack exchange :) I'm not at a point yet where I can make everything super obvious. –  Alex Stone Oct 30 '12 at 16:26
    
@AlexStone best way to learn UX in iOS, is to study native apple ios apps such as mail, phone, calendar, etc. For example, try to create new contact, try to edit it, see what animations are performed, how are cells changed, what happens when you tap cancel, or save, or edit, what happens to the list when you change name, how cells are selected/deselected, etc. This is how I learn design and UX. –  Tankista Nov 1 '12 at 11:54

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