Onboarding

I’m banging away on what I guess you could call the second sprint of PeakZebra blocks (except that it’s just me, so it’s a pretty thin scrum), but it’s hard to work on applications like CRM (built from blocks) without thinking about onboarding.

Onboarding is an enormous opportunity for WordPress, just because so many (including the core team) do it poorly or, more often, not at all.

If you are brand new to it and load a fresh install of WordPress on that hosting account you just signed up for, you’re almost certainly about to be royally confused. There have been a couple of slight improvements in the 6.3 release that just came out, but basically you end up looking at the admin back end, perhaps without even knowing that there is such a thing, and if you find your way to a view of the front end, you’ll be wondering how you accidentally loaded a “blog about philosophy” when you were trying to load a blank WordPress site.

If you survive this onboarding (designed to weed out the folks with no grit), dealing with new plugins can be rough, too. Most of them just load and then wait around for you to find the configuration page and do something. Some of them are clever enough to go ahead and jump to that page, but you may have very little idea what you’re supposed to do at that point and what effect different settings will have on your site.

Yes, there’s lots of documentation, but the prevalent experience in the computer and internet world these days includes at least a little in situ onboarding. There are surprisingly few tools for this in the WordPress space.

Now, I’m as big an offender as any, at least so far. But I want to work on making it easy to get rolling with the fairly large set of blocks I’m putting out into the world.

And it occurred to me, maybe each of the primary blocks should be capable of creating a popup that can be customized to provide an onboarding experience. There are a few key variables in the PZ block system that are essentially persistent (for a session) global variables, so why not have one that tells the block to do the onboarding thing.

I haven’t built this into blocks or given it a test to see if it really provides anything useful, but I think I’m going to try to sneak at least a small test of the concept into the current, um, sprint. I’m letting all the scrum members know about it right now.