Behavioral product strategist and gamification designer. This is my public hypertext notebook, sharing my thinking in motion at various stages of development.



GuidedTrack is a simple low-code application that allows you to make surveys, experiments, web applications, online courses, signup forms, and more. Spark WaveSpark Wave
Link to the main website

Spark Wave is a Startup Foundry run by Spencer Greenberg that applies social science, strategic thinking, and iterative experimentation to create socially beneficial software companies from scratch.

Our main operations include building products and conducting social science research to support those products. I serve as a behavioral product strategist for them, enabling the leaders of each of the portfolio products to incorporate intentional behavioral influence int...
built GuidedTrack so that it could build advanced studies and rapidly prototype, and is making the software available more broadly.

Alternative study platforms like Qualtrics and Typeform required so much clicking and dragging that they were tedious and took forever to build. Additionally, it was difficult to package the study itself as an intervention to deploy more broadly.

If you want to change the flow of a survey or experiment, how could drag and drop possibly be faster than typing, or cut and paste? Especially if you're moving multiple pieces of content at once? Most people write out their questionnaires in a Google Doc first anyway… could people type out just a few more words to turn that into the survey or experiment itself?

At this point, GuidedTrack has powered hundreds of online studies. Additionally, it has allowed us to build every program that you see on Clearer Thinking, enabling people to apply behavioral science research to their own lives.

Building applications in traditional programming languages would have been lengthy and expensive. We would have needed to hire a ton of programmers! What if we could build a programming language that was so easy to learn that subject matter experts with no prior coding experience could create applications? What if the language was so efficient that software engineers could pick up GuidedTrack and build whole applications in an afternoon?

Some web apps built using GuidedTrack include: UpLiftUpLift
This page is primarily to collect linked references.

UpLift is an app that delivers cognitive behavioral therapy to people with depression through interactive sessions and tools.

, Mind EaseMind Ease
This page is primarily to collect linked references

Mind Ease is an app that offers evidence-based anxiety and stress relief in 10 minutes or less.

, and OpenMindOpenMind
This page is primarily to collect linked references

"OpenMind is a psychology-based educational platform designed to depolarize campuses, companies, organizations, and communities. OpenMind helps people foster intellectual humility and mutual understanding, while equipping them with essential skills to engage constructively across differences."

The team is led by Jonathan Haidt and Caroline Mehl. Caroline had this to say about building OpenMind in GuidedTrack:

"GuidedTrack is a transformat...
. Subject matter experts in cognitive behavioral therapy and productive political conversations over divisive subjects were able to easily write interactive content and package it into apps.

GuidedTrack has been in development and serious use for years. Anyone can use it at this point, but we haven't made any marketing pushes to formally launch it. One of the big things that is holding us back is that we haven't yet implemented a well thought out approach to onboarding.

Needless to say, when Spencer Greenberg first tasked me with developing a plan for the onboarding of GuidedTrack, I knew that it would be a big project. Most apps do one thing very well, but GuidedTrack is literally a programming language. It's inherently flexible! We have a wide variety of distinct personas using GuidedTrack with varying degrees of technical background. People well versed in my digital garden may recognize this as The hard problem of onboarding horizontal productsThe hard problem of onboarding horizontal products
In order to successfully onboard a Horizontal product, we need to deliver an experience that is initially meaningful to groups of people who understand and care about different things.

There are individual differences between new users in their initial user goals and People start using an app with different prior skill levels. This makes it difficult to Speak to the user with a shared vocabulary because there is no single user group to speak to. The Upfront onboarding needs to teach the user...

However, I was excited. This was an opportunity for me to work on a genuinely challenging onboarding problem for a horizontal product, which I have wanted to do for years. Designing a smooth learning curve. What could be more challenging than teaching people to code? Eventually, I would come to realize that the best approach to improving its onboarding would come through the concept of Learnable programmingLearnable programming
When people want to learn to code from scratch, they might search for an online code academy. Through a series of lessons, they would teach you the ins and outs of a language and of your developer tools. If you're bought into this way of teaching people how to code, you might try to learn better pedagogical technique.

Learnable programming asks a different question. How might we design developer tools and programming languages so coding is inherently easier to learn? How might we change the ...

I started my Initial Research on GuidedTrackInitial Research on GuidedTrack
If you do not know what GuidedTrack is, I highly recommend reading the GuidedTrack page first, where I have background info.

First, I wanted to look at what was already there

We have help documentation, a location for people to ask questions to support, and a few sample programs made in GuidedTrack so people can learn through observation.

The hard problem of onboarding horizontal products

First, I looked at the project through my lenses to see if anything immediately stood out as relevant...
. This eventually turned into the Onboarding Plan as Presented to GuidedTrack on 10-20-20Onboarding Plan as Presented to GuidedTrack on 10-20-20
Note - GuidedTrack gave me permission to share a plan for onboarding that I wrote for them late October. At this point, we had been working together for a few months and this is an iteration on plans we were already working on. Certain aspects have been updated (which I mark with UPDATE) and certain aspects have been added (not in this post, will likely come in future posts), but we're implementing most of this. This post was originally written for the GuidedTrack team, so it assumes some kno...