• 04.17.13

When Should Your App Start Collecting User Info?

You don’t need a polished product to start building a thoughtful on-boarding experience. An eye-catching demo with an email sign-up can make the impression you need to garner a valuable list of potential users.

When Should Your App Start Collecting User Info?

For successful on-boarding, it’s vital to find out about your new users. It’s fine to let people start using your app willy-nilly, but you’ll likely regret having no way to announce new features or collect feedback if you don’t at least grab an email address or social handle. But how do you do this without encumbering the first-time app experience?


In fact, you can begin to collect user information before your product has even launched. Poncho, a new weather reporting site out of Betaworks here in New York, uses a playful bit of animation to entice us to sign up for the beta.

A demo was sent to BetaWorks’ Openbeta mailing list, making every recipient a potential Poncho user. It begins with weather animations, followed by subtle indications to scroll down. A visually simple-yet-elegant explanation moves to the foreground, where entrepreneur-in-residence, Paul Murphy, gives an enthusiastic introduction to Poncho. How can we resist?

Poncho is initially only available in NYC. We’ll quickly roll out additional cities in the coming weeks (so please, sign up if you’re not in NYC so we know which cities to launch next). The signup process is intentionally fun, so give it a try through the Openbeta VIP link.

Here is the explanation screen, below.

For more advice on creating a captivating first-time user experience, read back: The First-Time User Experience: What Developers Need To Know.

[Image by psd on Flickr]

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.