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My team and I are facing an issue regarding the release strategy of our application, that is said to impact the User Experience of our first users.

We are building a content-driven app and our business development team argues, that it will be a problem for our beta-users that there is no content at day 0. Just fyi: The content is generated by users messaging other users, who then respond to the initial message. The whole conversation (message a + message b) gets morphed into a public conversation that is visible for all users, that follow the users who had the conversation. So when we launch the app and invite the first users to our platform, there won't be any public conversations. Visible follower counts on user profiles will be at 0 and the app will overall look kind of empty.

I wonder if you have any guidance for me on how to handle this issue.

  • Should we fake public conversations between fake users, that real users can look at?
  • Should we generate system questions that automatically will be sent to real users arriving on the platform?
  • This is a very complicated issue, and it kind of relies on attracting users that 'seed' to other users. To get that to happen you need to create a reason for people for wanting to commit to the platform. Empty forums are a huge turn-off for new users. You can either fill the forum yourself at first, or risk betting on getting those seed users that are OK with being the first. – Wanda Apr 18 at 9:27
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Empty States

What you're referring to is known in the software world as an "empty state".
It can be just like it sounds: empty. But if you're smart, it becomes a delightful training tool.

The idea is to have a state in your app that detects the absence of content and fill it with something helpful or delightful for the user.

Doing empty right means you're coaching your users through inspiration, learning opportunities, and incremental discovery.

Here's a general repository of apps doing empty well: https://emptystat.es/

Learn from the pros

There are some great real world examples of this you can study right now.

  • Slack
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox

Start up a new account with any of these three services and you'll see how the pros do empty.

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In your situation try to avoid the empty state. If you join an app/community & it’s a ghost town, why would you ever return? As an extension of this, if you have smart coders who can build bots, you can then start to brainstorm how to duplicate such strategies on other platforms where your target audience is currently. Even it was for Reddit before they became the revolutionary powerhouse of truth and justice. The team submitted a ridiculous amount of content under fake user accounts to give the appearance of popularity. This is my personal opinion.

Meanwhile, try to direct a survey towards the real traffic and incentivize the survey participation like offer a 10% discount in exchange for engagements with the app. So within a short while, you will get real traffic too. You can also try gamification.

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This is also referred to as a "null state". Usually in a null/empty state, you want to present the User some actions they can take or encourage them to take these actions.

Google does a good job of this. https://material.io/design/communication/empty-states.html#content

I would also have an onboarding experience before they get to the null state so users aren't clueless on what actions they need to take.

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Just a thought -

A clever strategy can be something like this - When an user is signed up with the application, push a mandatory post in the steps of successful signup which can be like 'Introducing yourself with the community', 'Start a conversation', 'Ask any question'. This mandatory post will be created for every new user for the community. You can remove this mandatory post later when the user-base is enough to not populating any introductory post anymore.

Besides -

This article is a good read

Google made it very clear

You can use Dribbble inspirations

This Toptal article is way good for starting

  • Could you copy and paste some of the relevant text from those articles? – Mayo May 13 at 19:49

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