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I'm on the starting side of a six month UX engagement and it's a contractor's dream - a complete tear down of the old messaging, including the public facing website. One of the big things that we have to consider though, is how to present the product. The project details aren't all that relevant to the big picture here, so I won't bore you with them.

What's relevant is that we need to create a product walkthrough. Most people won't even engage in a conversation until they've seen (and often touched) the product under consideration.

It's easy to think "Hey, I can just give people a video, or an interactive video (Interlude Treehouse), then call it a day." Because - yeah - those are super engaging once clicked. The problem, of course, is the old adage that there are two types of users: Those who might watch a video, and those who will never ever watch a video. Let's call them the active guest and the passive guest.

As established, there are many ways to engage the active guest. They're easy to funnel and fun to design for. They're also incredibly rare compared to the passive guest, who loves to skew your bounce rates north of 80%. Clearly, we need a way to engage the other side if a web presence is going to convert new traffic at meaningful rates, especially if the product is disruptive.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of best practices outlined for how to deal with the engagement of a passive guest.

What can we convince them to do? Will they scan a gallery? Will they mouse over to see captions there? Would they prefer a scrolling/parallax style tour? We know that sliders are awful and we know that automatically animating the page will switch off this user's brain. But how much do we know about switching it on?

I'm curious how some other UX professionals out there have handled the challenge of building a product walkthrough that engages and educates a user who is unwilling to click a video. What experiences have you had? What examples can you point me to?

I'm a sponge today, please pour some water on me.

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I think you're right to think about users who won't be interested in watching an intro video, as quite a bit of research suggests most users don't watch them, and even onboarding should be considered a last resort (Saks, A.M. (1994). Moderating effects of self-efficacy for the relationship between training method and anxiety and stress reductions of newcomers. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15, 639–654. ) - in other words, the product should be so intuitive as to not require separate training and instead provide a learn-as-you-go experience, in an ideal world.

“If you frontload your tutorial and teach the player everything at the beginning,” Extra Credits says in “Tutorials 101,” “they’ll be overwhelmed with information and undersupplied with engagement.” (see: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/04/22/rethinking-mobile-tutorials-which-patterns-really-work/)

The bottom line is that the specific techniques that are right for you will depend on the specific context of your product, if indeed you really need it in the first place (see: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/11/mobile-onboarding-beginners-guide/ for good ideas on techniques).

One website that you may find useful is the following, which does excellent breakdowns and analyses of popular services and products: http://www.useronboard.com

  • +1 And must say test, test, test. Ask your users and watch their behaviours using analytics. Also be sure to ask people who haven't used your product before. – Stephen Keable Nov 24 '14 at 9:04
  • Awesome answer. I'll review the resources and comment in more detail. Part of what's going on is that this thing has to be running in time for CES (1/6) so I'm on a really accelerated timeline. We can iterate more after, but the initial "shippable product" is up in like... two sprints. – Imperative Nov 24 '14 at 20:04

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