The User Experience of Learning the Basic Skills of the Game
Previously, I wrote about the Discovery Phase (Phase I) of the 4 Experience Phases of a Player’s Journey. In this article, we’ll look into Onboarding, which is the second phase of a player’s journey.
Onboarding is about teaching users the rules and tools to play the game. Onboarding starts as soon as the user signs up, and ends when the users have mastered the fundamental skills needed to play the game and achieve the early stage win-states.
In the Discovery phase, the goal is to create motivation towards trying out your product through clever marketing and messaging. Generally, there are combinations of of Curiosity and Unpredictability (Core Drive #7), Epic Meaning & Calling (Core Drive #1), and perhaps Social Influence & Relatedness (Core Drive #5) if you want things to become more viral.
Onboarding, like the Discovery Phase, generally retains a weak form of Unpredictability & Curiosity (Core Drive #6), and it is the Gamification designer’s job to install other Core drives into the user experience.
Objective of the Onboarding Phase
When a user first joins, she generally just feels curious about the product. Depending on how well the Gamification designed the Discovery Phase, users could come because they just read about it somewhere (Core Drive 7), their friends told them to do so (Core Drive 5), its for a good cause (Core drive 1), their boss made them use the product (core drive 8) or because of high exclusivity (Core Drive 6).
No matter why the user decided to join the service, the most important Core Drive in the Onboarding Phase is mainly making players feel a sense of Development & Accomplishment(Core Drive #2). You want to make users FEEL smart and competent with lots of instruction, interaction, Empowerment and feedback reinforcements (Core Drive #3).
Far too often, Onboarding experiences for products feel confusing, too hands off, or too complex. This results in the user feeling stupid.
If your user feels stupid during Onboarding, then you’ll be fighting an uphill battle along with the user (think Google+).
This is why games deploy techniques such as the interactive step-by-step tutorials, the “glowing choice,” and early stage Win-States to reinforce Developement & Accomplishment in the Onboarding Phase.