Reuse the welcome screen as a notification system.
Allow cancellation of these notes. Color code them according to their need to be dealt with. An error is red, a note or caution is yellow.
Get users to the Next page (or next thing). Get people off of the home page and into re site as quickly as possible.
Whether it is updating their profile, adding information about themselves or clicking on a new piece of content, people won’t know to click through to do something unless you present it to them. And when you do, they’ll be happy to have the direction. Often they won’t even notice it; they’ll simply click on it.
Twitter’s homepage provides all of these things and does then well. Not only does it use the homepage as an alert box, but it provides a blank empty space for the user to add data every time they open it: also, all data on the page is new, meaning there’s always something new and different to see.
Facebook functions in exactLy the same way. Both systems place ultimate value on displaying data of others before the user’s own data. For instance, onemust click three times to look at their own data on Facebook, and once onTwitter (clicking on one’s username will pull up only their tweets). With so much content available, it no longer becomes a choice whether one will participate or not, but rather what one will participate with. That same amount of choice is present to the user, no matter where they are on the website. A click on Twitter almost always shows more content choices. Even the settings page invites toggling and updating. On Facebook, every click has multiple options arise: more people’s updates – more advertisemets and images, and even chat. Even the privacy settings require a 30 minute commitment, all leading the user to spend even more time on the site.
Give them a new thing to update every time they log in and they will eventually get around to it: it took me a year to completely fill out my linkedin profile, but it did it…eventually. And the interface waited for me the entire time. Often a user might fill out all of the information just to get the notifications to go away.
Offer a prize upon completing a start up task. Dropbox gives an extra 250 megs for completing the introduction to Dropbox.
The Mozilla Foundation and Foursquare are similar in that they both have leaderboards that display top ranking referrers or users. The rewards are often intangible. They are often points, not karma, not ‘squiggles’. Points are points. They do not need to be called anything other than that. The idea of points has worked out for hundreds of years. Points are points. They allow one to run a game. Their name does not get in the way of gameplay. Just call points points and get over it. Don’t be inventive.
The welcome screen can also be used as a guide for a three step process that the user does not have to complete during one sign-in session. Having 3 steps that stay in the dashboard or homepage allows the user to immediately know what they need to do when they log in on subsequent sessions.
If the user must set up storage for the system to be able to work, then the first step of the dashboard should be to set up storage. Once storage is set up, that notification should disappear and be replaced with a new one, or, if it is part of a list, it should be crossed out and or grayed, illuminating the next step in the process.