BuddyPress welcome screen design ideas

For the BuddyPress 2.2 dev cycle, I decided to spend my time exploring ideas about the experience of a new user after they activate the plugin on their site for the first time. Currently, we redirect the user to a screen listing the new major features of their version of BuddyPress; it’s a mixture of a changelog, and since 2.1, also contains elements of a “getting started” guide.

I think improving the new (site owner) experience is going to be critical for BuddyPress’ growth in 2015. Today I am sharing some screenshots of what I’ve come up with so far, but it looks like my ideas won’t be ready for wider consideration into a release until probably the 2.3 dev cycle — unless you can help. Check out my welcome screen branch on Github.

I researched a few tens of the most popular WordPress plugins (according to the list on WordPress.org), and I was surprised to see so few plugins trying to do something similar; banners across the top of wp-admin were fairly common. WooCommerce stood out because it has a similar post-install screen as to what BuddyPress currently has (we’ve both copied WordPress’ “About WordPress screen!). Automattic’s Jetpack stood out the most with its distinctive design (after you followed a banner to get to it), I suspect only because of that plugin’s requirement to connect to WordPress.com.

This is ripe ground for BuddyPress to develop an innovation lead on in 2015. I can’t propose these changes without the help of a really great designer, or two. I have put in a lot of time and effort to try to come up with a punch design solution for this problem, but it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi I’ve not figured out yet.

7 thoughts on “BuddyPress welcome screen design ideas

  1. Not sure that such redesign is needed. This page is visible by a person only on BuddyPress update (like 4 times a year, hopefully). Taking too many effort into making it a little bit better will not be as notable as spending that time working with the core (like, built-in API 🙂 ).

    The current design is OK, not perfect, but ok. So why spending time on something that already works and not on something else, that still requires efforts to work?

    Just saying.

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    1. I think I’d argue there’s two main reasons, beyond the fact that I personally think this is worthwhile to spend my own time on. 🙂 We haven’t iterated on the design of these screens for about 2 years so it’s nice to revisit it, and (at time of writing), we’ve had ~12,362 downloads of BuddyPress this last week.

      Do I think that will mean 12k new BuddyPress-powered sites opening each week? No, but I’m willing to bet we loose a significant percentage of those potential users because they install the plugin, and then have absolutely no idea what to do first, and get stuck/confused. So they uninstall BuddyPress, and go and search for another plugin, etc.

      The good thing about this theory is that if/when these screens are updated, we can then wait to see if it changes the download numbers (by monitoring future releases after the version with the new screens go out), and talk to people in the community and at WordCamps to get their feedback.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok, such points make sense.

        I would just disagree with this:

        have absolutely no idea what to do first

        They install it already with the knowledge of what it does (readme etc). Plus they are redirected to the current version of About page, which already have some useful information.

        Regarding screens update and monitoring download counter – that should be a minor release with just bug fixes, not 2.3 (but something like 2.2.1) – otherwise the stat data won’t be representative. IMO.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the idea of the banner, like WooCommerce and Jetpack. I feel that it grabs user’s attention the best. However, I believe this method would overwhelm the user if they activated several plugins at the same time, i.e. Banner Whiplash (I’m dubbing the phrase).

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    1. I agree, it doesn’t scale. So I figured a big fancy boldly designed “welcome screen” would be just as memorable (really, just an evolution of what we already have).

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