I was recently asked to take a look at the on-boarding process for the “reminders” section of an app. The reminders section pushes notifications to the user, reminding them of an upcoming event.

A week or so into the project, I realised that our team all had different views on how should use the section, so I took some early concepts into user testing.

The two conflicting hypotheses:

  1. A sparse empty state would encourage completionist behaviour (wanting to fill out the rest of the state)
  2. A empty state with many suggestions would guide users on how best to fill out the empty state


We tested two options:

The objective of the testing was to figure out how our customers wanted to use the section and which elements from each approach would encourage them to their own reminders.

What our customers said

1. “Give us sensible suggestions rather than humourous ones”

For most of the users, this was the first time they had set up a reminder in the app. In an attempt to add a bit of delight, we picked out some of the sillier national days. This actually confused users that hadn’t been in this section before. They had no clue why we were suggesting they add ‘Spoonerism Day’.

2. “Help us cut corners using other apps we already use”

Everyone loves a time-saver. Users asked if we could think about pulling data from their facebook account to form suggested contacts and pre-populate forms.

3. “Show me where to start”

Having more ways to start creating new reminders was useful, but it was also a bit confusing. After testing we went away and thought about what level each entry point should be on. Just because something is a great feature, doesn’t mean it should be visible on the home screen.

4. “Let me customise”

When inputting reminders for the people they really cared about, users wanted a more bespoke experience. Options to set specific reminders around date and time of the reminder were mentioned more than once.

5. “Think of what else we could get from this service”

As much as this section is about reminding people about upcoming events, we also realised there was some room for providing updates. Some holidays like Easter and Eid have a different date every year, and it’s quite useful to know when they are coming up; this section is a great place for it.


The most successful state was the shorter version due to the following reasons:

  1. It was easier to use first time round
  2. The key CTA took up the largest space
  3. Suggestions were sensible, rather than humorous

My conclusion—teach the new behaviour in a simple and direct way and watch your feature grow!

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