Solving for the Clingy Girlfriend, or Don’t Say Goodbye to Your Users Post Order

August 14th, 2011

When developing your website, the most important thing not to do, but the easiest thing to do is to forget you’re designing for users. And these users are unlikely to be all the same, unless you’re targeting a very specific niche. As you think about developing relationships with your different types of users, it’s important to figure out the different types of users you have and their motivations. It helps me to think of them like girlfriends.

For this post, I’d like to talk about a specific type of user, or a specific type of girlfriend. This is the user that’s been a few times, and they are into it. They love what you’re doing. They’ve professed their love to all their friends. They love it so much that they want to spend more time using your site. This is great, right? Exactly what you wanted. Check. Got this one covered. Let’s go after the users who are less engaged.

Not so fast. A specific type of problem can arrive with these types of users, if you’re lucky enough to get them (and you are lucky to get them). Let’s say your site is designed for “get in, get out” type of use, and it does that well. Well, these users have been there, done that many times. They want more. And you’re not designed for that. They’ve read the About Us page, liked your Facebook page, read your blog, all that. They’re actually thinking to themselves, “I like this site so much. How could I spend more time with it?” Sound familiar? You’ve got yourself a clingy girlfriend.

The problem with these types of users if you’ve designed your site so well for them that they outgrow it too quickly. There are some key ways to keep the engagement high without them over committing and burning out on you though. Coincidentally, many of these tactics are used during the onboarding process for websites/mobile apps, but they are just as, if not more effective, post-order for these types of users specifically. It is helpful to think of it as if you are continuing to onboard these users even though they are most sold on the product, and if there is no additional way to onboard them, you need to invent some. A few key tactics I’d like to describe for this:

“What you can do now” suggestions – Has the user completed an order? Don’t consider the session over. Tell them they can now that they’ve completed whatever the task was they completed. It’s very similar to a quality onboarding process. Some suggestions:

Invite friends
Fill out your profile
Visit your Facebook page
Go to your Twitter account
Read your blog

Great example (post-onboarding): LinkedIn
Status bar suggests other way to complete your profile.

Great example (onboarding): Dropbox
Checklists that are stricken through once completed.

“Post-usage” features – Another way to keep this type of user engaged is to create some sort of mini-experience post order for them or asking them to take a more active role in the site. They should be designed as ways to lose time. Some suggestions:

Games
Asking them to moderate content
Shuffle of non-personalized content
View what others have ordered
View statistics for the site for the day/week/month

Great example (post-onboarding): Quora
No picture. When Quora was inundated with new users, it manual review process for each answer was running way behind. So, for many users that had show good engagement, Quora began asking users to review answers on the sidebar of the home page.

Great example (onboarding): Hunch
Hunch asks random questions to get to know you better. They have thousands of them.

“Did you know/Ideas for next time” suggestions – This can be a great time to educate users on features that are for more advanced users, additional use cases for the site, or even company background. Some suggestions:

Download our mobile app
About us
Related content OR Expose different product category
Advanced feature tutorial
Charities you support

Great example (post-onboarding): Chegg
Chegg asks to plan a tree on your behalf after an order.

Great example (post-onboarding): Qwiki
Qwiki suggests different Qwikis to view after finishing a Qwiki.

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