You may love your onboarding process. It might be a beautiful, well-thought out series of steps meant to make people feel more comfortable and begin their journey as a contributor.

But if I can’t skip it, it’s a mistake.

Last weekend, I found myself on a somewhat well-known social media platform (and online community, of sorts), going through their onboarding. It started off simply enough: with a list of suggested topics I could follow.

Here’s the thing: I virtually never do suggested topics or follow suggested users. I skip. I don’t want to pick suggested topics because suggested topics lead to notifications via the site and email. It clogs my feed and my inbox. I don’t want any of it.

Problem: they forced me to choose. There was no skip button. There was no way to opt out of this process. I tried the back button. I tried going directly to the homepage. I noticed that “step-1” was in the URL of the page I was on, so I tried to manually go to “step-2.” That seemed to allow me to skip it… only it didn’t. Because once I thought I completed the process, it was back to suggested topics.

But no, they didn’t just make me choose 1. I had to choose 3. And then, I could finally continue. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next page was a group of 7 suggested accounts I could follow and a prompt to follow the company Twitter account. All of these were pre-selected and, no, you couldn’t just “uncheck all.”

When I finally completed the process, I realized something: my choices meant nothing. They had automatically followed the 7 suggested accounts on their site and, worse yet, the company Twitter account from my personal Twitter account.

Would you believe that, within a half hour of completing the onboarding, I received an email notification that a new post had been made by one of the suggested accounts they made me follow? Which was exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place!

This is remarkably bad.

I don’t consider myself an expert in onboarding. But as a user, there are two things that are important to me, above all else:

  1. Please do not force me to complete your onboarding process.
  2. Please respect the choices that I make during that process.

That’s about it.