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Ever wondered why you fall in love with some apps and just don't click with others? Chances are that the app you fell in love with had a very good plan.
The 3 Step Plan
TO MARRYING YOUR USERS
8 min read
I said to myself
as I tapped the big BATTLE button,
“Just one last time…”
And leaped into another 3 minute match
at arena number three.
A sweet sensation spread across my body
as my troops gained success...
And a stroke of dopamine kicked in when I knocked
down my opponent’s tower...
Phone goes BZZZZZZZzzzt, and dies.
At first I was furious, losing the match over
then I looked at the time.
It was 2:15 AM
and apparently I’d been playing
for an hour and a half straight.
My name is Dori Adar.
I’m a game/product designer,
and I have an unhealthy relationship
with a game that has
taken over my life.
We all have relationships
with our games and apps.
We share our lives
We goof around
We spend our most
intimate moments with
While others we prefer
to play after a long day
And sometimes, we feel like we’ve found
the love of our lives...
Only to completely deny it 3 weeks later.
How come we fall in love with some apps,
And just don’t click with others?
While there’s no definite answer to this question -
After analyzing many games and apps,
a clear pattern emerges.
The 3 Step Plan
TO MARRYING YOUR USERs
THE FIRST DATE
The first encounter with the user
is a true make or break.
Lose the user there and she’s gone forever.
That’s why ONBOARDING
is such a hot UX topic nowadays.
The problem is that onboarding new users to
applications is becoming harder and harder.
Users’ attention spans are at an all time low.
People are quick to judge and resent the slightest
(Give an Android to an iPhone user
to see a perfect example of this...)
So how can we onboard new, impatient users?
Show them MAGIC, as fast as you can.
Let’s see some magical examples.
This is the first page of MSQRD,
a fun face-filter app.
1 second after launching the app,
the user looks like a damn monkey.
Time to Magic: 1 second
Magic is all about experience.
It can’t be explained.
But what if you are working on a slightly less silly
app? Can you still be quick to “make magic”?
Duolingo’s 1st screen
Duolingo’s 2nd screen
Choose a language
Duolingo’s 3rd screen
Teaching the ropes - how to use
Duolingo’s 4th screen
The first exercise.
Wow! I wrote my first
sentence in German!
Time To Magic: 60 seconds
If indeed magic was experienced during the first
date, the app would then shift to the next phase:
After the first date,
the app must call the user.
But it should never beg.
The smart app will have good excuses for calling
users back. Here’s Duolingo again:
During the onboarding,
the app will ask the
users to choose a daily
This step is un-
When users get a notification the next day
calling them back to the app,
The chances of return are higher.
After all, they set a goal.
And if they do not comply after a few notifications,
Duolingo will literally break up with them.
Some apps, notably games, will persuade users to
come back through curiosity.
I like to call this “The delayed feedback” method.
Let’s take a look at Clash Royale.
Win a wooden chest
When users win a match in Clash
Royale, they get a treasure chest
as a reward.
However when they try to open it,
they discover that they must wait
15 seconds to discover what’s
15 seconds is not a long time.
Just enough to make sure that when the user has left the app,
She immediately gets a notification,
bringing her back to the game.
Everybody loves a surprising reward -
Be it a message, friend request,
or chest full of goodies.
Later on, as the relationship shifts from the “Pursuit”
to the “Going Steady” stage,
Time increments of the rewards change,
adjusting themselves to the user’s routine.
Check in every 3 hours during the day.
Tap the 8 hours golden chest before going to sleep,
and have it ready by morning.
During the “Going Steady” stage,
the app will be incorporated in the user’s routine.
The user will check in every hour or so to see what
rewards the app has in store for her.
The reward over time mechanic is known as the
“Core Game Loop”
A typical session in Clash Royale begins with a
surprising reward that was won hours ago,
and is only now available.
Users then proceed to the actual fighting,
in which they will win some more treasures.
Remember, it takes time to open a chest,
so the session will usually stop there...
Only to begin again when the chest is available.
Let’s see the same loop in action in the popular
dating app, Tinder.
In Tinder, users browse through people's pictures,
swiping left to pass on them, and right to like them.
If both parties like each other, it’s a match.
This is how a typical Tinder session begins.
A match, a very surprising reward.
Users then proceed to swipe left or right on people’s
And those actions, in time,
would yield more matches.
Notice how both loops always begin
with a pleasant surprise right at the
start of the session.
This creates the notion
that checking into the app is a good thing.
In case you were
wondering why FB
sessions now start
with reminding users
of their photos from
now you know...
Facebook, too, wants its users to start off their
sessions with a nice surprise.
Clash Royale, the game I was addicted to, executes
these 3 steps very well.
Nothing short of magical. I quickly discovered how
much fun the game’s combat system is.
Pretty intense. “Come back” notifications follow
treasure chests that are now ready to be opened.
Backed by a solid core game loop that offers
surprising rewards every 3-8 hours.
I would recommend you to take this game for a spin
and see if it works magic on you as well.
You might fall in love.
For more insights on games and product design,
check me out on www.doriadar.com
And don’t forget to spread the word
AND SHARE THIS DECK!