Google continuous onboarding in 2019

In earlier posts we’ve looked at what Google has done to introduce new features and deepen engagement – we call this continuous onboarding. This post is an update that shows the following key characteristics:

  • Google consistently use tips, popups and feature tours.
  • Tips are ALWAYS simple.
  • Tips are ALWAYS contextual
  • Popups and Tips seem to target the user who hasn’t yet used a specific product feature.

Lets dive in…..

Advanced Gmail Features

Gmail is a mature product and after the closure of Google Inbox some of the top features are being imported into the new cleaner Gmail UI. 

  1. “Schedule when to send” – this simple contextual tip explains to the user in one-shot the new functionality. Easy and Done!
  2. Dynamic email – this is more complex and a pretty new feature. The “Learn more” button takes me to a deeper explanation. The “Got it” is what users expect from a popup tip to dismiss it.
  3. Google’s choice of a simple style indicates that they know that the vast majority of the population will understand these little visual elements. They don’t try to be too sexy or clever, this would just distract from the education mission. Google’s tips are consistently in this blue colour.
The calendar tip is not exactly from Gmail but its closely coupled with the gmail UI. In this case the:
  • Again, its simple and contextual to point at the new button that I’d not previously used.
  • The blue colour is in the button but it still echoes the recognition common across their tip UI.
  • The tip has a dimmed background to standout.

Youtube Channel Membership

Wow, this is an interesting new feature in Youtube!

It looks like Youtube are taking on Patreon but I’d have never know unless this tip popped up because generally I just click “SUBSCRIBE” and don’t really notice what else is needed.

Again, despite Youtube being fairly autonomous to Google, the style of tip, placement follows the same style elements:

  • Google tip blue.
  • Title (bold)/Description.
  • Use of “Got it”
  • No use of dismiss or “X” buttons.
  • The blue appears brighter to compete with the intense red of the SUBSCRIBE button.

Google Docs - Word editing.

Google wants to take Microsoft Office’s (once) safe userbase. The new feature introduction of co-existence with Office’s documents is a powerful feature that they want to promote. 

So this popup is not shy about their message – very different to Google’s other low-key feature announcements tips – the popup is a significant announcement. Two things to note:

  1. The blue button will launch the tour below. The text explains what will happen.
  2. The “X” dismiss button is clear.
  3. The user only has 2 possible responses and Google’s analytics will know exactly how each user responded to the prompt. This is how Contextual works – allowing Product Teams to infer different conclusions and behaviours from what buttons the end-user clicks.

Clicking the (yes, you guessed it – blue) button above leads to explain a few key features.

NOTE: they don’t attempt to explain Google Docs. They only explain the NEW Microsoft Office integration features such as Managing Versions, what format and Conversion.

If the top popup was too subtle, sometimes Google also uses their bug splash coachmark to announce the new feature.

The Best Practices

You can guarantee that Google knows that this type of contextual education is a key step in continuous onboarding. The simple takeaways (with complex data backed reasons) are observable in these recent Tips, Tours and Popups in Gmail, Calendar, Youtube and Google Docs.

The Google Best Practices for tips are:

  • targeted at users
  • has a predictable design and colour that won’t confuse users.
  • doesn’t have any flashy colour schemes buttons or widgets that distracts from the education mission
  • doesn’t use more buttons necessary than is needed for the job
  • buttons look like links (presumably to simplify render on a broad range of devices)
  • allow the user to engage with the tip or to easily dismiss
  • their response is captured and measured.

There is also examples in Google Photos, Google Assistant and several other products that also use the blue contextual tip – look out for them the next time you are using their products!

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