Are You Normal? A Question at the Heart of an Enduring Onboarding Strategy

By August 2, 2017Case Studies, Ideas

By David Thomas
When I started my career in Quality Assurance, I worked for Michael Fergusson at another company. This was back in 2007 and the idea of Facebook and social media was beginning to take off. At this time, Michael and his team had developed a Facebook app called “Are You Normal?”. It quickly grew to be one of the most popular apps on Facebook at the time, with over one million users.

Are You Normal? tapped into that curiosity we all have to see where we fit in. The app would present you with a simple choice about your preferences. It would then compare your choice with everyone else using the app and tell you how “normal” you are. A similar mechanic is used in the Telltale games, like The Walking Dead. It will tell you something like “You and 42% of players chose not disclose your criminal history to the group.” In this instance, you would be “42% normal”.  
We have come a long way since then. Today, Ayogo uses a similar technique to engage users and onboard them. Our apps have moved from Facebook-based to healthcare applications delivering health outcomes. However, we remain true to our ACUDO model.
Knowing how normal you are can be quite useful in the context of healthcare. Leveraging this curiosity can be an important onboarding strategy. It can help personalize the treatment experience. People with a chronic medical condition can feel isolated and depressed. They want to feel normal. Using a fun data collection strategy can hook the user just like Are You Normal? did.
Social psychologist and Stanford assistant professor Gregory Walton studied the motivational impact of belonging:  “Walton’s earlier studies demonstrated that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don’t feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.” –

Are you normal onboarding

As everyone’s norms are defined by context, culture and social environment, what is normal for one person will not be normal for another. From our psychology to our biome, we are all unique. So knowing about our uniqueness and our ideas about what is “normal” can be critical to onboarding, and key to improving personalization.

Onboarding is only the beginning.

As the emerging world of Artificial Intelligence and Personalized Medicine comes into play we can deepen the personalization effect. Through a series of Are You Normal-style surveys, we can use AI to analyze the data and show patients how their current behaviors and choices are affecting their health. We can also use that data to tailor a self-managed care plan, unique to that individual.
Highlighting users’ similarities to each other may help them feel more comfortable. This is why social applications often have the effect of reassuring users “this is for me”. But recognizing each user’s uniqueness and tailoring the experience is more effective at improving their outcomes. 
Ayogo specializes in making health apps more patient centered. Onboarding strategies such as quizzes can uncover what the user considers unique and what they consider normal. Knowing how people think about themselves helps healthcare organizations improve onboarding.

Read the Case Study of an onboarding strategy: fitting the treatment to diabetes patients.