1. Vine UX: How Vine Wraps Up New Users

    Vine has an amazing new user experience. Other app developers should take note of what they have done. Leveraging Vine’s UX tactics, others can improve their own apps where it makes sense. Doing so can greatly improve new user retention and engagement, which are fundamental growth drivers.


    Discuss on Hacker News - would love your thoughts.


    Beautiful, elegant App Store presence
    Any app in the App Store follows a conversion funnel. At the top of the funnel is the user’s entrance, which is via app store search in my case. Seizing that moment is essential to getting a user to register for your service. To do this, some apps provide a clear CTA (call-to-action); others make you feel something. Others fall flat with confusing or uninspiring experiences. Vine made me feel something.

    Vine creates an aura
    with its result through various tactics. The powerfully applied and very unique green color is eye-catching. The typography is elegant. The screenshot is both informative and alluring (what a combination). 4 star-rating ensures social proof and is above the bar for any person using app quality as a factor in deciding whether to install. “Vine” is repeated 3 times in this single view. Vine as a concept enveloped me and made me excited to try the app.


    Inject words into images used in the app gallery to drive points home
    Be resourceful despite platform constraints. Vine, as powerful an aura it may be, is a hard concept to convey. The App Store confines Twitter (the maker of Vine) to very limited copy (the name of the app) and a screenshot. How does one communicate the concept of looping video with virtually no text and a flat image?


    But nowhere does Apple require the screenshot to *only* be a screenshot. Twitter cleverly has uploaded an image that includes descriptive text: “See & share beautiful looping videos” in addition to the screenshot. One could argue that the copy is distracting, or the image should be strong enough to render copy unnecessary. That’s fair, but for me, the copy helped.

    When you ask for permission, focus on how it makes their experience better — not the data you’re asking them for

    The words: “<This Application> Would Like to Use Your Current Location” have appeared to frequent app installers countless times. Those words get glossed over because of how many times they have been displayed to a user. We are numb to them the way we are to “Checking this box indicates your agreement to our Terms of Service.”


    So the words immediately after that headline *do* matter. Vine has said: “This allows you to view and tag posts with locations around you.” Admittedly, I don’t know how much control Vine has over this or the headline copy. I also don’t know whether this would have worked on me in 2007 when the iPhone first came out and location services were nascent. Location was still creepy.

    But notice how Vine has used words like “allows you” and “view and tag posts”. It’s about what *you* will be able to do. It’s about experiences like viewing and tagging posts. Your posts. Don’t you want to be able to do everything possible with your posts?

    Also notice how “OK” is default. It’s the more emphasized button. “OK” as a term is passive vs. “Yes”. OK says, “OK I’m all right with it.” That’s easier to get someone to commit to than “Yes, I want this.”

    I don’t love that an alert like this is basically the first thing I get when I open the app. But I also realize that if they don’t get my consent for location now, they are much less likely to get it later. And location is clearly important to them for various reasons - be it a more engaging user experience or for advertising functionality at a later date. Lastly, these permissions alerts are becoming so standard, that it’s not nearly the same as it was to throw a popup ad at someone’s face in the year 2000.

    Hold your new user’s hand, so they don’t let go (if they let go, that’s anti-retention, or losing a user)

    If you just downloaded the app, it’s almost certain that you don’t know how to use the app. They could just launch you into the feed, or perhaps better, the publisher (it works well for Snapchat). Instead, Vine has blended their publisher with a guide.


    Vine wants you to take an action. Assuredly, users who make a post during their initial use of the app are meaningfully more likely to both return to the app and be highly engaged users of the app. While that may be correlational in many cases, I’d imagine that Vine can also increase future behavior by facilitating it here and now.

    Notice the words used here, too. “We can walk you through how to make your first post.” It’s friendly. It’s not forceful (“We can…but we won’t make you do anything you don’t want.”).

    Also, take note of how they have enabled the camera in the background. So, the guide is integrated with the action you will take. It helps make the guide feel more engaging and reduces the likelihood I just close the app and move on. A guide by itself is boring. Imagine reading a plain text recipe in an email. Now imagine crafting a delicious meal, working off of a rich media recipe on an iPad in the middle of a kitchen counter full of all the right ingredients.

    Inevitably I will at least slightly move my hand, so the camera moves and the guide feels responsive. This creates a loop, where I want to do more things and get interface feedback from the app. When something reacts in a novel way to our conventional action, it sparks intrigue and gets us to want more.


    Help people create the most interesting content possible


    If this were 10 seconds of the same view of a park, it would be pretty boring. If it’s 3 seconds of one cool thing, then something totally different, and then yet again something totally different — with rapid transitions and fluid camera movement — it’s a different story.

    Vine pushes users to select a few different scenes when you capture the moment. The video stops after a few seconds and a new message appears. You would have to deliberately disobey the app to be boring, and record more time of the same event. Plus, they even say “Next, find something different”. Through both the mechanics of the app and in-your-face copywriting, Vine gets you to record short snippets of as-interesting-as-possible content.

    By doing so, they’re improving the engagement loop. When someone else views your video, they’re far more likely to watch it, and continue watching it, if it is as engaging as possible. I believe these segmented videos make more engaging content because you record things that are *different*. It would be lower friction to just let people record a single video. But not only would that not provide enough differentiation from existing camera functionality, but it probably would produce less engaging content.

    If your app requires focus or lends itself to interruption, do what you can to encourage people to hang in there


    Imagine the behavior that a person is doing. They are probably spending time with friends. Vine is an interruption to “real life”, frankly. Sure, it’s helping preserve the moment. But it is by definition an interruption. So, them holding their phone and rotating in the middle of a park is sort of a lot to ask of someone. A simple nudge like “Keep holding!” can be just what one needs to hang on for 5 seconds until the video is done when their friends are trying to pull them away back to real life. Sad, I know - but think about how often push notifications and other phone alerts pull us away from our loved ones.

    Push people to share content immediately after creation; delaying distribution vastly reduces the likelihood of that content ever leaving that phone

    As soon as the video is complete, Vine automatically pushes you to their Share screen. There are other alternatives to doing this. The most obvious would be to just end the video and allow the user to review, edit, or otherwise interact with the video just created. But Vine is not Instagram. The value of the content is the content itself — not what you do to it (i.e. filters). If an Instagram photo is not filtered, for example, it doesn’t feel right.


    But with Vine, it’s more about the brief moments that are being shared than any sort of post-production editing someone is going to do to the video on their mobile device. So, not only does pushing someone straight to Share help you get them to distribute the video, you’re not upsetting them by taking them away from an editing screen they would otherwise expect.

    Eliminate all friction to making the first post, which may include default text and pre-selecting where to share the content

    Notice how Vine provides the words for your first post: “My #firstpost on Vine”. They also use language that, if seen by someone else, is enticing and makes one interested in trying out Vine. It is generic text but comes off as fairly authentic. The thing about these default posts is that they begin to appear multiple times in the feeds of early adopters’ friends and friends of friends. Once you see the same thing enough times, with consistent messaging, you can’t help but notice.


    Once you have made your first post, this copy changes to “Add a caption” - enough to motivate you to provide some additional color to the post, but not so heavy that it feels required or discourages you to post.

    Remind people how valuable their content is if they’re on the fence about posting
    There is ample opportunity to abandon posting this Vine. The Share Screen shows a thumbnail of the video, keeping the moment in view even after the video has been recorded. If it looked like some blank or unpersonalized share screen, it would be easy to not feel a connection to the content anymore. Out of sight out of mind. In sight, and they shall share.


    If you want to bring people into an invite funnel inside of the product, can you make inviting FUN?
    I’m not suggesting you trick users. But the reality is that there’s something dirty around words like “Import Your Address Book” or even “Invite”. It reminds users that they’re putting social capital at risk. It also reminds people of all of the privacy fiascos that have happened with web apps through the years.


    But Vine takes a very different approach. “Want to see more? Find people to follow” and colorful skies and air ballons. None of that screams “Invite”. Yet once you click through there are very clear instructions on what to do. The warm and fuzzies may not work so well once you need people to take very specific, technical steps. But if you’re optimizing for the top of the invite funnel this light and fun call to action seems like a smart approach.




    I like what Vine has done here. And I imagine that new user retention supports the impact of a well-designed new user experience.

    What do you think of Vine? What other new user experiences are well done, on mobile or otherwise?

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Jason Shah

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