Onboarding Users is Underrated

Maybe you’ve heard of My6Sense (@my6sense), a newish mobile service that observes your Google Reader habits and serves up content that should interest you.

If you read Louis Gray’s blog (@louisgray), you likely have, since he joined My6Sense last year.

Anyway, Rich (@rmanalan) reminded me of My6Sense, which had gone on my list of apps I’m interested to try (with Quora and others) when I get a chance.

I never made it past the sign up because the onboarding experience needs work. First off, you can’t sign up at the website; you can only do it via their mobile apps. I suppose this makes sense, since My6Sense targets the mobile experience, but it’s convoluted.

Here’s why. I use 1Password to manage all my passwords and create strong ones. I’m not alone either; pretty much every early adopter uses (or should use) some type of password store. It’s just too obvious why that makes sense (ahem, Gawker).

Since I can’t sign up for My6Sense in a browser (not even a mobile one), I can’t generate a strong password.

Having downloaded the Android app, I was able to reach a sign up page, where I’m forced to create a new set of credentials. No Facebook Connect, no Twitter OAuth. Also, the help text says my password must be at least five characters, which doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence about their commitment to security.

I need that confidence too, if I’m going to let My6Sense crawl my Google Reader feeds. I assume they’re connecting to Google, so I have to trust them with my Google credentials.

So, I’m left with a combination of annoyance, at the complexity of using my password store to sign up, and uneasiness, at the prospect of trusting My6Sense with my credentials.

Frankly, if Louis weren’t vouching for them, I’d be gone in a heartbeat, never to return.

This is why onboarding is so critical. The process needs to be easy and intuitive, as well as trustworthy.

I’m reminded of How to Design for the 15 Minutes from SXSW last year, presented by Rob Goodlatte  (@rsg) of Facebook and Daniel Burka (@dburka) formerly of Digg, which has a lot of useful tips for successful onboarding.

Louis, if you’re reading, please accept the humble feedback of a would-be user.




  1. Thanks for the feedback. Let me pass this through. You are not the only one who perceives it this way. We are using Twitter OAuth, of course. It’s a matter of presenting this in the right way and it requires work on our side.

  2. Sure, you’re using Twitter OAuth once I already have a My6Sense account bc you must to pull a Twitter feed 🙂 Since you have that already in place, it seems logical that I could login to My6Sense with my Twitter creds instead of creating a new set.

    It’s becoming less common to see new apps requiring site-specific accounts vs. using FB Connect and Twitter, with a side of OpenID or Google possibly. I get that you probably have legacy accounts, but this seems like the way to go.

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