The Power of Low-Barrier Engagement for New Users



Like many people in tech, I’m constantly downloading, testing and then deleting new apps. The window for which to engage and hold my attention is slim. That’s why low barrier engagement, the immediate emergence of a new user into an experience that elicits a response or provides value, can be so powerful. Low barrier engagement retains users by immediately hooking in the user on their first visit.

Low barrier engagement is successful if it delivers immediate value, eliminates decision making, and makes a new user want to return. In order to accomplish this, low barrier engagement must:

  1. Provide clear context.
  2. Connect the user to other community members or relevant utility (such as content) immediately
  3. Have a clear next step

Screenshot 2015-03-10 18.46.12Here are a few examples of platforms that have impressively low barriers to engagement:


Assembly is a platform that enables anyone, anywhere to openly collaborate and build real businesses together. While developers make up the majority of the community, anyone can join – marketers, too. Users join Assembly to start and find products to work on. As such, the first page upon signup is a discovery page full of projects targeted specifically to your skills.IMG_5258

While a relevant and targeted onboarding experience, contributing to or starting a project may be a bit intimidating at first. Smartly, Assembly has provided a much more immediate and easy way to engage with others on the platforms via chat. Promoted by an automated chat notification (regardless of whether you’re mentioned or not), new users find themselves in a Slack-like chat room full of current, on-site users who can answer questions, provide encourage and give a taste of the community culture. is quite literally a church online. Regardless of your religious affiliation, their online engagement efforts are impressive. Directly from the landing page, new users can both watch a live sermon or religious programming and join a moderated live chat (without leaving the page or creating an account!) of others also watching. New users can engage with other community members in less than 10 seconds.

Screenshot 2015-03-10 20.10.09


And, of course, there is Tinder. New users create an account using Facebook log-in, which enables identification of potential matches are friends with your Facebook friends. More importantly for engagement purposes, however, new user accounts are immediately generated with current Facebook profile photos, and the the next screen after signup is a match on which to swipe left or right. (No photo necessary, bc I know you know!)

Some other mentionables: Venmo, Meerkat, Vine. Of course, there are some platforms for which it may make more sense to have an intensive onboarding process, such as for security or quality purposes.

What are your other favorite examples of low-barrier engagement? How can time from landing to engagement be shortened for your platform?