Studying onboarding strategies from the biggest consumer apps.

Image for post
Image for post
Image containing the title and logos from featured companies

The onboarding sequence has defaulted to become the go-to spot for Dribbble designers to flex their UI muscles. And usually, that happens with an utter disregard for the effects that the five-ish screens that sit pre-launch can have on a product.

Onboarding isn’t something that should be left in the dust. It’s no secret that effective onboarding can drive growth and retention, even Facebook attributes it to be a major factor in their rise to 1 Billion users. But, Facebook’s success is just the tip of the iceberg.

Major consumer apps all utilize a blend of experience, information, and conversion tactics that set users up for long-term product success. …

Managing your habits is stressful, trying to start a new one is even harder. Tangerine makes this easy, helping you manage your habits stress free.

A gif showing completing a habit with confetti.

As I said, Tangerine is a habit app. But what makes it different?

Its simplicity.

Tangerine takes pride in being simple above all else. Their app is designed to do two main things:

  1. Manage your habits
  2. Recap your day

By focusing on these two experiences, Tangerine can easily provide a seamless journey from habit creation, to completion. But also including a space for reflection. SO, let’s dive in.

First things first, onboarding. Simple, clean illustrations, concise descriptions, and a relaxed font.

Tangerine does a great job of setting the tone. Managing habits shouldn’t be high-pressure and this app reminds you of that. …

The disruptive email client has been making waves across tech, but does the design live up to the hype?

So unless you’ve been living under a rock the past month, you’ve most definitely heard of Hey. They don’t need much of an intro, but the team at Basecamp has put a lot of time and effort into their visionary new email client. If it is anything like Basecamp, there’s no doubt it will find success.

Hey is built on the idea that current email solutions don’t solve basic problems. DHH and Jason want Hey to change that. They’ve added innovative features never before seen in email, far too many to touch on in this thread.

Image for post
Image for post
three phone mocks with pre-sign in HEY screens

As always, I need to start with onboarding. The HEY onboarding pre-sign up is nothing special, it’s simple and gets the job done. Where it shines is within the app. Users are taken through guided onboarding for your first few emails, with extensive help on setting everything up to use. …

Design is all about finding balance, and we could all learn from Zenly on how to do that.

Image for post
Image for post
“The Zenly Experience” with a phone mockup

So first, what is Zenly? Essentially, it’s a better way to keep track of your friends & family. You can view location, send messages, and a ton of other cool things. The team at Zenly went above & beyond with their added features, so let’s take a look.

Image for post
Image for post
three phone mockups of a the zenly onboarding

The first experience with Zenly is the onboarding flow. Now, I am a HUGE believer that onboarding is one of the most important features of an app. Zenly’s was so simple, but enjoyable I honestly didnt want it to end. …

Image for post
Image for post
A giant header image with a phone mockup and title text

View the live site here!

Wedge is a SaaS startup in the HR Tech space and recently just completed its latest investment round. With that said, Wedge is focused on two things, growth and customer retention.

While that is where the company is focusing its effort, their previous digital experience told a different story.

Project Overview

As the sole designer on the Wedge team, I led the efforts across various product design roles, this spring my pitch to redesign the previous website was finally accepted.

My Role: UX Research, UX Design, Web design, User testing
My Team: Trevor Ploucha, Rob Kish, Patrick McCarren — copywriting, strategy, and development. …

It takes too long to create new playlists, finding new music is a struggle, and Spotify’s playlists are too generic… here is your solution.

Image for post
Image for post
An image of phone mockups, with the text: “Designing a Playlist Generator for the future of Curating Music”

Have you ever struggled to find new music to add to a playlist — or struggled to create a new playlist at all?

Enter Otterr… a playlist generator designed to make finding new music, creating new playlists, and keeping up with your friends — all a breeze.

Project Overview

Otterr was originally a student project. Given to me with a few simple, but challenging tasks:

  • Find a problem prevalent within your social circle
  • Create an app that is the solution
  • Create a Business model to ensure your products profitability and long term financial success

With the tasks in place, the constraints were…

I made a lot of mistakes. Hopefully, this helps you not do the same.

A computer on desk showcasing a product, with a phone mug, notepad around it
A computer on desk showcasing a product, with a phone mug, notepad around it
Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

When I started designing websites years ago, I couldn’t wait to call myself I web designer. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to build a website from scratch and make it look awesome.

I was 18 at the time & had no idea what this thing called “UX” was. I would have 30-minute meetings with clients and use that snippet of information to build websites. I thought the best websites got done the fastest and looked the best.

I didn’t know what usability was, or any of these other fancy UX terms. I wanted to build things that looked cool. …

Affinity maps are a pillar way to organize UX research, but are you doing them right?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

If you’re in UX or want to be, you’re familiar with the concept of affinity maps. But far too often, people care about color-coding their sticky notes & making them look nice for a portfolio.

This needs to change.

Here is the idea behind affinity maps:

Generate snippets of data, put them on sticky notes, organize them by topic, and create big picture findings.

While that may sound easy, a lot gets lost in the process.

If you’re looking for an article on what an affinity map is, try these:

We often forget product experiences can live outside of the phone or computer, here’s one great experience often overlooked.

A fancy car view from inside the front seat
A fancy car view from inside the front seat
Photo by Bram Van Oost on Unsplash

When you think user experience or UX, you think about the web. Whether it’s mobile, desktop, or tablet, the web is considered as being the house of all great UX.

But we’re wrong. And in my opinion, the best user experience is, wait for it…

…in the car.

What? The car? I know what you’re thinking, “My car’s dashboard is terrible, the interface experience is outdated!” And you’re right. But I’m getting more specific.

Enter Apple CarPlay. (Sorry, Android users)

The Problem

Before we get into CarPlay, let’s talk about the problem it solves.

Car dashboards & interfaces are beyond outdated. They are brutal. Navigating the radio, personal media, & navigation is confusing. You don’t know whether to use the buttons on the screen, or the physical buttons right below it. …

Across digital & physical products, the smallest viable audience is what the biggest brands used to grow, maybe you should too.

E.g., A grid of iphones, ipads, and watch bands
E.g., A grid of iphones, ipads, and watch bands
Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

When launching a new product or drafting up your strategy, it’s easy to try & appeal to everyone. But, in 99% of cases, appealing to everyone doesn’t work.

Heck, even Apple doesn’t market to everyone.

The biggest brands in the world are actually niched down. Think of Nike, Starbucks, or Whole Foods. These brands have specific markets they are target hard.

Facebook, college students at select universities.

Starbucks, people who want a good experience while drinking great coffee.

Whole Foods, people who want to eat healthy and help the community.

All three of these brands could use their high price point as a strategy, but instead, they all go a step further. …


Josh Nelson

21 yr old Product Designer. Masters of Information Student @ WSU. Student Athlete. Passionate about designing effortless digital experiences.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store