We join online communities for a number of reasons. But when you or someone you care for is afflicted by a rare chronic illness, your reasons may be the need for educational information, lifestyle tips and/or support from people just like you.
After noticing that growth and engagement were stagnate, year over year, an online community for people living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) brought me in to identify opportunities for growth, user experience hurdles, and friction preventing current and potential users from engaging in or joining the community.
Going through the registration process numerous times, from the perspective of our main target demographic (mothers of young patients), allowed me to quickly identify red flags such as: an extensive, frustrating process and multiple dead ends.
I also solicited the help of a few research subjects (friends and peers who are active forum users) to validate my assumptions by going through the same process and recording their thoughts and feelings during each step.
Hearing from numerous members of the community, ranging from new members to moderators, via survey, Slack, and conference calls also provided great insight in understanding the primary pain points preventing current members from actively engaging in discussions, and communicating with one another.
The current registration flow had two major dead ends. The first: returning users whose email addresses were recognized received an error and were taken back to the registration screen (see A below).
The other dead end was the mandatory password reset process (see B below), which required newly registered users to create a new password right after the registration confirmation step (during which they were required to create a username and password), without being informed of this unusual step, or receiving any guidance through the process. This step stalled all research subjects, resulting in frustration and them abandoning the process altogether. For users who were able to understand that they needed to reset their password (which they created three steps prior) there were five more hurdles for them to get over (see C below) before finally being able to log in.
To solve the returning user error, we simply guided them to the Login flow, where they would be able to login or recover their password, if lost. We also made sure to communicate to them that the reason they were taken to this screen was because their email address matched a current account holder’s.
We also opted to remove the password reset step and log users in directly from the registration confirmation email.
As you can see below, by streamlining the registration process we removed two majors hurdles and drastically reduced the number of steps required to successfully register.
Based on the research conducted, replying to a discussion was just as extensive and tedious a process as registering. New users were required to register in order to reply, which meant going through the nightmare described above.
Current members, after logging in, were required to remember the steps taken to find the discussion they wanted to reply to (see A below), and, once there, after clicking on reply, they found themselves being asked to join the group the discussion belonged to, and find their way back to the discussion again (see B below).
We decided to take users back to the discussion they were on after they’ve successfully registered or logged in. Yes, that simple.
Once in, members were also treated to a revamped forum. We rethought and redesigned the entire experience, facilitating the process of users connecting with each other, creating content and finding the content relevant to them.