The first-run experience Matt 24 Aug 2005

10 comments Latest by Online casino btdino

Guidebook, a site dedicated to preserving and showcasing GUIs, interviews John Gruber, author of Daring Fireball and critic of the Mac OS X interface. Here he discusses Steve Jobs’ Apple’s emphasis on the first-run experience (a.k.a. the blank slate).

Another aspect of the Mac OS X UI that I think has been tremendously influenced by Jobs is the setup and first-run experience. I think Jobs is keenly aware of the importance of first impressions. Let’s say you buy a new computer and use it for three years. That’s about 1,000 days. Your first-run experience — the experience you encounter the first time you boot the machine after taking it out of the box — therefore constitutes about one-thousandth of your entire experience with the machine. I think that’s the sort of logic that has driven most companies not to put that much effort into designing the first-run UI — it’s only going to happen once, and if it isn’t smooth, so what?

Whereas I think Jobs looks at the first-run experience and thinks, it may only be one-thousandth of a user’s overall experience with the machine, but it’s the most important one-thousandth, because it’s the first one-thousandth, and it sets their expectations and initial impression.

10 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Mathew Patterson 24 Aug 05

Here he discusses Steve Jobs� emphasis on the importance of the first-run experience

Well to be accurate, he discusses what he thinks is probably Steve Jobs’ emphasis…

Megan Holbrook 24 Aug 05

I’d agree that first impressions are incredibly important, not just in the design of a computer but in website design as well. I always wince when the first and only thing I see on a website is a “loading” message.

Making a customer wait around to see the designer’s latest and greatest work while not being able to navigate anywhere else on the site is not a wonderful way to start a relationship with them.

Megan Holbrook 24 Aug 05

So if you make it boot ten seconds faster, you�ve saved a dozen lives. That�s really worth it, don�t you think?�

In that case, don’t you think we should be charging Microsoft with genocide…? ;)

Stephen 24 Aug 05

Well, let�s say you can shave 10 seconds off of the boot time. Multiply that by five million users and thats 50 million seconds, every single day. Over a year, that�s probably dozens of lifetimes. So if you make it boot ten seconds faster, you�ve saved a dozen lives. That�s really worth it, don�t you think?

That’s so meaningless. Surely all increases in computer loading speed that don’t affect functionality are improvements in the experience. Think of all the lives I could have “saved” by never saying superfluous words like “please” and “thank you.”

Bad use of numbers.

Lisa 24 Aug 05

In that case, don�t you think we should be charging Microsoft with genocide�? ;)


I looked at Guidebook and its fun to see the old screen shots, particularly the mac system 7. I remember going ape over that one.

JohnO 24 Aug 05


That is called the “Steve Jobs reality-distortion field”. Read @ (stories from those who made the macintosh)

Mark Sigal 24 Aug 05

Great post, and I would put “first-run” squarely in the bucket of overall out of the box experience. As important as is first impressions upon first launch of the software is achieving some immediate utility, joy, satisfaction or “AHA” moment from the software very quickly. This results when the software is specifically designed to drive the user to be able to do “something” meaningful upon launch.

In simple terms, this can take the form of a tutorial or wizard, but for example, part of the power of a browser for initial users (was) seeing it open to a default page with a bunch of descriptive links that took you out on the web. Part of the beauty of google is being able to type something descriptive without deep analysis and get back relevance and reach.

A side comment is that first-run quickly becomes an edge condition (i.e., it represents less than 1% of the usage scenarios) so good software needs to be able to turn off first run mode very easily.

I think of out of the box experience as the “ignition code” that ignites the user to allocate mindshare to the application in terms of “hiring” it for a particular job.