Why you should let your users dive in at the deep end

Recently I posted an article rant about how user onboarding shouldn’t be seen as ‘handholding’, and how it’s an important factor in ensuring that your users know how to use your system and aren’t left feeling lost at sea.

However, it can sometimes be better to let your users dive in at the deep end. Anyone who has had to install their system from scratch can tell you that being onboarded into a system you already know how to use can be a waste of time. It’s slow, potentially patronising and slows you down when you’re trying to set up your new system / recreate your old one (because change is bad!)

We already know that Slack has an awesome onboarding system for a new user, but what about one who already knows how Slack works? Today I started a new job and had to set Slack up on my new shiny machine. I’ve been using Slack already so I didn’t need to be walked through how it works. After putting in my username and selecting a password for my chat, dearest SlackBot started talking to me. Now for a new user, this is great, you get them used to Slack by… using Slack. Genius! But me in my mood of “just get set up so I can start doing something” wasn’t having any of it.

Heavens to Betsy! SlackBot was smart enough to understand that me saying “No” was good enough to stop onboarding me! And just in case it had misread the situation, it gave me the option to start up again should I wish.

This is the marker of distinction between good UX and great UX. Good UX picks up on the standard things we should be doing but forget because we’re not standard users and a lot of the time not even close to being the intended users, great UX takes care of the little things. The empty states, the lack of data connection, the “I don’t want to interact with you” times, and the “this system is my life, I know more than you” times.

Well done Slack.