We still have many feedback about diaspora* being “too complicated” to join, especially because of its decentralized nature (so having to choose a pod is a step where we possibly loose many new users).
I thought about it a bit, so here are my thoughts, please tell me what you think.
There are many ways new users can join diaspora*: they can be invited by their friends, they can arrive on the home page of a pod, they can click on the “shared from diaspora*” link of facebook or Twitter… But I’m focusing here on the “they arrive on the official website” one. There still is work to do so that people arrive on the official website and not on joindiaspora.com or another pod but I will not cover that topic here.
So the typical flow could be:
- The persons arrive on the official website and discover what diaspora* is
- They are interested about the project and want to register
- They arrive on a page to choose a pod, and choose one
- They register on the chosen pod
- They come back on the pod regularly, they now are diaspora* users!
At each of these steps, visitors can quit and will not become users. It is important to make these steps as easy to cross as possible. It would even be better to reduce the number of the steps. For example, for lazy visitors, we could pick up a pod automatically instead of asking them to choose.
At this point, do you have remarks about the steps? Do you see a different flow?
Step 1: The persons arrive on the official website and discover what diaspora* is
I feel like we could explain more clearly what diaspora* is, why it is like this, and how it works. Currently, the information are divided between the home page and the about page. I have a draft in mind I will try to work on it and share it soon.
Step 2: they are interested about the project and want to register
This can probably be summed up to a bigger button about joining the network. It will be part of my above draft.
Step 3: they arrive on a page to choose a pod, and choose one
Currently the join us button link to a small paragraph on the home page which links to the choose a pod wiki page which itself links to poduptime or the federation which themselves are not very obvious. And we also have the tutorials which explain part of the wiki page but are still linking to it.
I propose to make the
Join us! button links to the tutorials, or to modify the home page (see my coming draft), because at the moment, the button is an anchor and when it’s clicked, the page scroll down but on desktop, it’s not obvious where it is going (as the screen is divided in 3 columns). The text can also be more concise and clearer. I’ll work on it.
And there is obviously the idea of picking a pod for the user, removing the hassle of choosing one. As @waithamai pointed in Add list of known pods to the website, the random select feature of poduti.me has downsides. Picking a pod randomly means maybe picking a friendica one (we can solve that), but also maybe a pod with almost no users so not attractive, or a pod not up to date (we can also solve those points). Then, there is the hardest one: picking a pod which can be trusted, aka well managed, administrated by someone capable, with backups, good uptime etc.
The interesting point is, thanks to @comradesenya, users will soon be able to migrate between pods. That means the initial choice of your pod is not that important anymore as after the discovery phase, users are able to switch or even set up their own pod. So I am wondering (still not sure it is a good idea) if we could have a list of trusted pods where we could redirect the users, probably based on their location. The flow would be the following:
- The visitors want to register, and simply click a “Join” button
- They are located in the USA, the closest trusted pod is diasp.org, they are redirected automatically to the registration page of diasp.org
- They start using diaspora* at diasp.org, discovering many content and users (so creating connections which would have been hard to create on a small pod) without hassles, thanks to a pod greatly administrated and with many users.
- The dhq account or even the podmin account publish (monthly?) reminders about migrating, either by setting up a pod or to a small one
- Some users migrate, they don’t feel they are loosing content as the connection with their contacts are still there (and were easier to create than from a small pod)
- diaspora* still is decentralized!
What do you think? Of course, that would mean a choice about which pods to include in the “trusted” list. Maybe we can start very short, with just diasp.org, geraspora, diasp.eu and framasphere?
Step 4: They register on the chosen pod
The registration itself is already pretty easy. There still are some possible improvements, like not making the email address mandatory for example, but that’s not a priority imo.
Step 5: They come back on the pod regularly, they now are diaspora* users!
Here is an interesting point. Of course, we could do some marketing common callback, like sending an e-mail after 7 days of inactivity like “here is what you missed!” but I feel there are things to do first that are less intrusive. In my opinion we should first focus on the “getting started” experience. I mainly see two points:
- Improve explanations about how diaspora* works. We had hundreds of time the same questions by new users on framasphere, so the podmin account now automatically sends a PM to a new user with the basics of diaspora*. Introduce yourself with a #newHere public message, follow tags to discover content and how to get help (the section, who to contact…). The /getting_started flow already does that, but definitely can be improved (as many users crossed it but still are asking questions).
- Be able to come back! Remembering a pod after choosing it is not obvious. It even gets harder when we picked it automatically for the user! Some of them didn’t even noticed they left the diasporafoundation.org web site. They then try to come back, arrive on joindiaspora.com or a famous pod like that, try to login, fail, and surrender, thinking diaspora* doesn’t work. My suggestion here is quite simple: send an e-mail to the users once they registered. Something pretty simple, welcoming them, remembering their username, and with a link to the pod. That way, they are able to find where they registered, so they can come back.
So, what’s next? I feel like I can work on the improvements of the diasporafoundation website, and probably on the “welcome new user” email. That’s mainly wording and design, maybe @goob will want to give me an hand?
The “automatic pick up of the closest trusted pod” however means some dev work, so not sure I can create a proof of concept alone. So if the idea is well received, maybe someone else can work on it? We first need to discuss if we want it anyway.