I was home last night…

…digging through psychology books for a new UX case study and—

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—I realized the principle I was looking for was somewhere in "Thinking Fast And Slow."

So I opened the book…

…but unfortunately—

—I realized the principle I was looking for was somewhere in one of my favorite classics:
"Thinking Fast And Slow."

So I opened the book…

…but unfortunately—

Hmm… wasn't there a popular app for book summaries?

—that book is a dense brick.

And I didn't have the time to reread the entire thing…

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Let's see… {tap}

Hmm… wasn't there a popular app for book summaries?

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solid ratings!

…I think that's the one!



15 min is perfect. Plus—

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I was excited to try Blinkist, but…

…that's when something weird happened—

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waaaait a minute…

What kind of "personalization" would justify—

—having a book summary app track everything I do on my phone?

I'm not gonna lie—


Plus, I haven't even seen the book summary I'm looking for yet…

No thanks! {tap}

—that's really creepy.

Respect > Data

You wouldn't greet a stranger on the street and ask for the keys to their house.

This prompt is the digital equivalent.

Build trust before you ask for data.
And explain clearly why you need it.

What's even scarier with this particular prompt is that according to research1, many apps still track you even if you explicitly ask them not to.

1Your Data & Privacy, Washington Post (2022)
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Ahhh… now that's interesting…

Let's give it a chance{tap}

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—Blinkist promised me a 15-min book summary just moments ago.

It would have been a lot smoother to just—

Imposing a new daily habit without any explanation is intense.

Especially considering that—

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Progressive disclosure

Users are less overwhelmed if they're exposed to complex features later.1

Your new users have a specific goal in mind when they discover your app (see jobs-to-be-done framework).2

Your role is to identify your new users' hopes and pains quickly, and align your experience with their needs—not the other way around.

1Progressive Disclosure, Psychology of Design (2021)
2JTBD Forces Diagram, JTBD.info (2017)

ask me what I want to accomplish*!


* Based on the top 3 reasons to read book summaries according to research and user interviews from The Economist.

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Anyways, let's try this…


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…interesting! But—

1. Refresh my memory and better apply what I've read…

2. Be more efficient with the time I can spend reading.


—my goal is not to
"read more than most people."

It's instead to…

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Wow, that's a lot of hours saved!

who wants to read
48 hours per week?!

I'm all about saving time, but this benefit would be more evident with—

Wait, hold up…

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—something like this!


That way, the comparison is anchored to my goal (and not an unreachable amount of reading time every week).

Framing & Anchoring

The way you present information affects how users interpret and decide.

The same facts presented in two different ways can lead to different outcomes or decisions from people.1

It's best to frame your experience around the core value of your product, or else you risk wasting users' brain cycles.

Similarly, anchoring the status quo as very time-consuming helps users see the value of your product or feature.2

1The Framing Effect, UXDesign (2019)
2Anchoring Bias, Psychology of Design (2021)
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But let's move on… {tap}

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Weren't all the previous steps—

whatever… {tap}

—focused on books?

It seems too late to ask now.

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Definitely these three!

I'm stoked to discover interesting psychology books along the way…


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I mean… sure, that's technically related to psychology but—

—it's still weird
because if you search:


…you quickly find—

Personalization Expectations

Asking questions creates expectations.

If you give your users the impression that you'll customize an experience based on their inputs, not delivering on that expectation can quickly backfire.

Personalization is an excellent way to improve activation and retention.1

But personalization done wrong is worse than no personalization at all.

1Growth.Design, Airbnb Personalization Case Study (2019)

—a clear top 5.

I'm surprised their algorithm didn't start with those sure bets

Hopefully, the next suggestion will be better?



—Oprah's book on trauma is definitely not what I'm looking for.

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no thanks.

"Sex & Relationships"? …

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I went through more unrelated recommendations until…

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Alas… my taps were futile…


Ugh… I probably need to finish the onboarding first



Side note: I never noticed the small "Skip" option here.

So my brain ignored it for the rest of the onboarding…


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I quickly sorted the rest…

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Whew!… at least I found "Thinking Fast & Slow" and saved it.

Alright, now let's see this library of book summa—

Endowment Effect

Users value something more if they feel it's theirs, including digital experiences.1

In this case, knowing that my book summary was waiting for me in my "Library" made me stick around until the very end (as you'll soon see).

This principle—combined with good personalization—can encourage your users to complete your onboarding.

1Endowment Effect, Psychology of Design (2019)

Speaking of which… where's that "Saved Library"?

Probably in the next step?

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Three problems here…

  1. What's a "Blink"?
  2. What's a "Shortcast"?
  3. I haven't seen the app yet, so it's hard for me to imagine "handy features".

…no thanks! {tap}

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…can I just…

…get my summary…


Psych Framework

Every user interaction will either add or subtract Psych, depending on the effort required and the alignment with goals.

The sum of these interactions determines how likely your users are to take action.

For example, Blinkist wasted my psych with a series of optional questions that provided very little value in return.1

But, there are also ways to psych up your users. We show you a step-by-step framework with tons of examples in our product psychology course.

1Behavioral Economics, Expected Utility


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The impact of Transparency

Blinkist ran an interesting trial paywall experiment on this screen. It led to:

  • 23% more trial signups
  • 55% fewer customer complaints
  • Higher trial retention (and revenues)

We analyzed the psychology behind that AB test in a separate case study.

Would you like to see it? (it's free)

Yes, I want the paywall
experiment case study

Hmm… I should have expected this paywall.

It's tough because—

—on the one hand, I'm probably one click away from my book summary.

But on the other hand…

…I'm exhausted.

Plus, I don't want to forget to cancel this trial and be charged.

Oh wait…! That's actually very nice.

Alright then… last try!

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As the page was loading for this last step

…I was naively expecting something like—

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But instead—


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—I hit a wall of recommendations…


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…and I gave up.

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Now to be fair… I found
my summary the next day.

And Blinkist turned out to be a great app (I recommend it).

But this shows why onboardings can be tricky, and how psychology (and the Psych Framework) can help.

To help you do this, here's—

Oh and one last thing

—a mini checklist to spark some discussions with your team.


⚡️ You found the secret slides!

…what was your #1 takeaway from this case study?

Hey! Since you got this far, can you tell me…

Drop a comment.
I reply to everyone

Well done.

You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #034:
"Blinkist's Onboarding"