Microsoft Excel first run experience

Summary (screens follow)

The good bits

  • Instead of aggressively prompting someone to take a tutorial, or putting someone into a tutorial mode right away, Excel first opens with a “create new file” screen. This is an empty state that gives new users clear next steps: They can choose to create their first file from scratch, create from a template, or explore a sample “tutorial” file
  • The sample tutorial file is a normal Excel document that uses the app’s underlying design to provide education. For example, the “steps” of the tutorial are spread out across different sheets, with the tabs at the bottom of the screen highlighting the topic of each step. Within each sheet, the cells teach the user how to perform certain actions, with examples already implemented that they can play with.  It’s something that is always available to revisit in the app, and lets a new user learn at their own pace. At the end of the tutorial, there is a next step that encourages the user to leave feedback about the tutorial.
  • The app relies more on responsive hints and pop-ups instead of proactive, educational interruptions. For example, displaying a first-time hint that autosave is on and what it does the first time the user switches the autosave toggle in the upper left of the interface. This is less disruptive to the user’s workflow yet gives them the information they need. 

To be improved

  • The first run experience in this case also included downloading and installing Microsoft office. Unfortunately this flow included 3 consent screens and a “What’s new in Excel” screen that slowed down the process (and assumed I was an existing user that had used some previous version of Excel in the past). 
  • Some of the writing on the app’s responsive educational moments can be more confusing than helpful. For example, an informational popup appears if the user presses on a feature (like “Ideas”) that requires the user to turn on Office connected experiences. It’s attempting to get the user to turn the feature on, but the wording is very vague about what connected experiences are: “Use Office connected experiences. To enable this experience, change your privacy preferences.” The focus on privacy preferences makes it more confusing, because it’s not clear why those would be associated with a feature like “Ideas” and “connected experiences.”