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


The user may have a lack of imagination as to what user goals they can accomplish

The user believes that the app will help them achieve a goal that they actually haveThe user believes that the app will help them achieve a goal that they actually have
This is just good product design and user research. Learn about the user’s goals and how committed they are to achieving them and the product with that in mind.

The intuition for why this leads to voluntary behavior is clear - if people don’t stand to benefit from a task in a way that they care about, then why bother?
, but New users do not yet have the vocabulary to understand the appNew users do not yet have the vocabulary to understand the app
Imagine that you are in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. You're hungry and you need to ask someone on the street where to buy some food. You don’t have the words to say it, but you can probably rub your stomach and people will know where to point you.

If the app has sufficiently unique features or design, then encountering those will be like hearing words from a foreign language. If the features or design are familiar carryovers from other products that people are used t...
. This means they'll often be painfully unaware of all of the goals that they are able to accomplish.

The app must communicate clearly to the user how the app relates to goals that the user already has. This is part of why I recommend products Use a badging system as a method of actionable user researchUse a badging system as a method of actionable user research
If you have a high quality badging/achievements system, then that means you know what the user goals are, you can recognize when those goals are accomplished, and your app notices when the user behavior is bringing the user closer to accomplishing their goal.

The three most important questions to ask of a badging system:

What are the user's goals?
What signals progress to the user/company?
What signals failure along the process of goal achievement?
What signals success to the user/c...
, even if a badging system isn't ultimately implemented.

The user's vocabulary can grow in a few ways (list is not exclusive):

  • User skill level increases over timeUser skill level increases over time
    Imagine that you have just started to use Excel or Photoshop. Both of those apps have an insane amount of functionality, and it would be unreasonable to expect the user to understand what is possible and how to do it immediately. Over time, with continued User Involvement, they will simply grow more comfortable with the app.

    The most successful app adoptions come from a project, because they give the user a reason to increase their skills. As they work on their projects, they'll bump up agai...
    so the user gains a new vocabulary.
  • The app can show the user examples of the goals that they can satisfy that they didn't know they had. This tends to happen best when it comes from the community. Continuous onboarding can come from communityContinuous onboarding can come from community
    I’m still working on this one, leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter @RobertHaisfield if you want to see more on this page!

    See initial thoughts here: