Improving the New User Experience

In order to determine exactly what the initial user experience is really like, I set out to document the process. I only really saw this once a few years ago and I was already familiar with the system's internals at the time so I doubt that I paid very much attention.

Upon clicking the link in the first email received from Scrum Alliance—the “Welcome CSM”—the new user is presented with this page:

I immediately see some simple ways to improve this:

After showing that the password was successfully updated (I'm not trying to show all the error-paths like when the entried didn't match), we explain that the link won't work again and that they can now proceed to the login page (and they will be taken there in 10 seconds if they don't click the link themselves).

Yeah, this isn't the Kentio login page because I'm running on my local development environment. (If you hadn't already noticed that from the big orange banner at the top.)

Since I faked a student in a CSM course, my Welcome page tells me to "Take csm Test in …" and so I select "English" …

… and get this nice little warning (at least in Safari which I used for this process, but I normally use Chrome).

(and, oops!, it really goes to and creates an ftimer username there)

When I closed the testing site, naturally, I'm sent back to production because there's no way for to know that I'm just testing.

Since my original tab is still open (remember the warning about a new tab?), I try refreshing it:

OK, so I have to fake a passing test result being posted against my local environment …

$ curl -D - "http://localhost:3000/test_results/^3%25)_out_of_35_maximum_points&testtakenscore3=(a_score_of_66^0%25_or_greater_is_needed_to_pass_this_test)&takenuserscore=33&takenmaxscore=35&takenpassscore=66&takenispass=1§ionSummary1=general2|roles2|meetings2|artifacts2§ionSummary2=7|21|4|3§ionSummary3=7|20|4|2"
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff
Content-Type: text/html
Cache-Control: no-cache
X-Request-Id: 85863354-d5d3-49c8-a0e5-4322e23bf9c0
X-Runtime: 1.836625
Connection: close
Server: thin

And locally process the background jobs that get created (which includes sending of email).

$ rails jobs:workoff
[Worker(host:Rob-MacMini.local pid:97969)] Starting job worker
[Worker(host:Rob-MacMini.local pid:97969)] Job ActiveJob::QueueAdapters::DelayedJobAdapter::JobWrapper (id=114815) (queue=mailers) RUNNING
[Worker(host:Rob-MacMini.local pid:97969)] Job ActiveJob::QueueAdapters::DelayedJobAdapter::JobWrapper (id=114815) (queue=mailers) COMPLETED after 2.2407
[Worker(host:Rob-MacMini.local pid:97969)] 1 jobs processed at 0.4292 j/s, 0 failed
[Worker(host:Rob-MacMini.local pid:97969)] No more jobs available. Exiting

So now I can check my email!

Since my helpfully puts this email in the same pseudo-thread as my "real" email from years ago, I can see that the formatting is pretty crappy. (Yes, that's my techincal opinion about it.)

Now logging in after I've "passed" the test and received my Congratulations CSM email, I am presented with the Certified ScrumMaster Agreement (I've read it several times before, so …)

The short paragraph of text is a bit strange, but it does seem to tell me to find the "Settings" menu and ther will be a "Certification Dashboard" link there.

I accept the license agreement and am again welcomed to the Scrum Alliance.

Note that there's also a link to "Continue to Certification Dashboard" that might not even be recognized as a link. Up to this point in the new user's experience with the Scrum Alliance web site, clickable things have looked like rectangular, colored areas. Well, except for the Safari dialog box that did have those plain, blue "Cancel" and "OK" choices. The "link" reads more like an instruction than an action. At the very least, this link should be formatted as a normal web link (i.e., underlined and blue) or placed as a large, colored rectangle after the text.

But a new user never actually goes to their Dashboard!
Perhaps the "Wecome" page previously should instead explain that the next step is to complete one's address so it isn't so startling. Is this turning people away from the site? Even the message is a bit misleading as the "Personal Data" tab is already the selected one and does not need to be clicked.

So, after completing my address information, surely I'll get to see my Dashboard, right?
What?! This still isn't my Dashboard? It's my Profile? I don't even know that that is! (And, of course, in production this would be presented from Kentico.)

Finally, I manually find that "Settings" menu and click my "Certification Dashboard". (I've lowered my screenshot a bit in order to capture the full page between the header and footer.)

If what Steven says is true—that no one even reads the messaging on the early pages—then the experience is certainly worse that it would appear from my walkthrough above. The question becomes what should we do to really improve the experience? Given that there is an effort already underway to redesign the Dashboard (and have it presented via Kentico rather than Rails), any implementation steps should take that into account. Along with the observations interspersed above, here are my thoughts.

Restructure the Create New Password (aka, "Reset Password") page
At least as I've shown above, but I'm open to additional suggestions.
Fix the formatting of the "Congratulations CSM" email ASAP
While there is also an outstanding card to overhaul the email template system, the existing email template contents need to be post-processed for manual line breaks so that the final email has lines of a reasonable length.
Use the "Welcome" page to explain the next two steps
  1. Complete your profile to include at least your physical address which is only used internally by the Scrum Alliance.
  2. You'll go to your Public Profile after making the updates OR make the next step after a profile edit be the Dashboard
It would probably also be a good idea to explain that future logins will go directly to the Dashboard (which they haven't yet seen of course). In any case, a detailed inset image of the "Settings" nav menu would be better than simply having the description of that "Certification Dashboard" link. The "Continue to Certification Dashboard" ought to be relocated after the text and be styled in a colored rectangle as all previous action links have been presented. (It might not be a bad idea to present an abbreviated style guide to explain where the UI departs from standard web conventions like the lack of underlining on links.)