A while back I tried signing up for Noom (a weight loss / behavior change app with a massive marketing engine behind it) and they ask a million questions trying to give an impression of “we’re learning all these things about you so the AI can customize the crap out of your weight loss plan”.
I’m obviously cynical (just mildly!) in the case of Noom but it drives home a realization I’ve gradually come to about Beeminder. We used to think we needed to ruthlessly remove friction in the goal creation UI. At one point we even let you start creating a goal before you’d signed up. That was a terrible idea. I now, weirdly, believe that friction in goal creation is almost a good thing. Adding questions and settings and whatnot to goal creation helps users learn more about how Beeminder works and it creates a feeling of investment in the goal they’re creating. Obviously we don’t want to add gratuitous friction (as I cynically suspect Noom is doing) but, for example, any setting we think you ought to think about (like the deadline, perhaps) when you’re creating a goal, we shouldn’t hesitate to add it as a step in creating a goal.
Another example of friction I’d like to add is having the user not only choose their goal units but choose how to abbreviate them and pluralize them (it sounds dumb I know, but I’ve got something spec’d out that I think will actually be nice!) so Beeminder can tell you things like “-.1kg needed by midnight” in a more useful way. (Related improvements along those lines are currently in the works, btw; codename: safesum.) That process should also help educate users about the concept of a metric to be minded. Obvious things for us but it’s surprising how many people do things like trying to put their goal value in the rate field or whatever. Slowing everything down, asking for one thing at a time and explaining it all along the way could help. I think we can even do that in a way that adds value for power users and doesn’t meaningfully slow them down either.