New User Experience

Quora had 100 million monthly unique visitors as of March 2016, up from 80 million at the end of 2015. With this amount of growth, it is important for the company to convert more visitors into happy, retained users.


At Quora, I was able to work on many parts of the product. I was drawn to improving the New User Experience (NUX) in particular, because it was often the target of user criticism. Given its importance, I felt it was not receiving as much attention as it deserved. I started with running many small experiments to understand the space as best I could. Eventually, I fully assumed the responsibility of improving NUX.

The Old NUX

After a new user signs up using their social media account or email address, they have to complete a few more steps before they can read content on Quora.

Follow Topics

In the first screen of our old NUX, we asked users to follow topics so we could collect explicit signal on what the user likes to read. The options had no significance and were arbitrarily selected a few years ago. As the user selects a topic, new options are dynamically added to the very bottom of the list. The user could only continue to the next step once they have followed at least 10 topics.

Add Knows About Topics

The next step was important for collecting signal on the user's experiences and areas of expertise. We needed to learn what kinds of questions we can route to the user based off their self-reported expertise and, if they fill out their topic biography, professional credentials.
When users sign up, they want to read great content right away. Some users felt that Quora was putting unnecessary work between them and the content. However at this point in time, Quora needed explicit signal to serve the most relevant questions to the new users. Therefore, we learned that we needed to keep the step, for now.
I explored the problem further by conducting research via user interviews, workshops, and brainstorms. Although we had to keep the step, it did not mean that our NUX had to be as painful as it was for our users. The research boiled down to two main problems.

Problem 1

Users perceived the product as untrustworthy due to low design quality and product transparency.

Problem 2

Users did not understand why they were forced to do more work to see content when they have already created their accounts.

I took the problems and transformed them into goals and principles to guide the eventual NUX redesign and experiments.

Trust ++

The new experience should present itself as a carefully crafted and transparent product (i.e. beautifully show the value).

Simplicity ++

The new experience should reduce cognitive load to help the user complete the signup process faster and with less effort (e.g., presenting fewer options, simple words).

Retention +

User Signal +

Brand +

Engagement +

User Signal +

Completion +

Our qualitative goals had to be measured using metrics and user feedback. I worked with the project manager to determine which metrics to use as a proxy for measuring success. I designed a new concept to achieve a more trustworthy and simple NUX. We anticipate a big gain in brand, which is often an improvement that takes time to take effect.
Intentionally, the first iterations tried to keep the interface as clean as possible. Over each iteration, it became simpler. Below is an example of one of the iterations. Please contact me if you would like to know more about my process.
After several iterations, the solution used the following elements to create a more trustworthy and simple NUX for Quora.

Clearer Design & Navigation

Users now have a clearer understanding of the signup process

Fewer Choices

Users have to pick from only a few topics at signup

Simpler wording

Users can parse short and concise language faster and with less cognitive load

My NUX Concept