Top 5 Best Practices to Create a Great User Onboarding Experience

Read on to know what you need to do to create an amazing user onboarding experience.

User Onboarding Experience

Stellar user experience is key to stand out from the competition in 2020, and it all starts the moment users sign up for your product.

User onboarding is a crucial part of product strategy. When done well, user onboarding can help increase user activation, engagement, and retention. And yet, so many new startups tend to overlook user onboarding, which leads to a vicious cycle of:

  • Spending a fortune on user acquisition
  • Delivering a rocky start (in terms of UX) to the ones acquired
  • Eventually losing those users to a competitor
  • Repeat

You don’t want your startup to onboard that hamster wheel, of course. So, you better get your user onboarding right.

But first, what is user onboarding, exactly?

Before we dive into these best practices, let’s quickly recap what user onboarding actually is. According to OptinMonster, “User onboarding is the process of actively guiding users to find new value in your product or service.”

Think of it as a small conversion funnel between acquiring new users and turning them into highly engaged ones. Or, in other words, consider user onboarding as a bridge between new signups and happily paying loyal users.

Now, without further ado, here’s what you need to do to create an amazing user onboarding experience:

1. Show value right away

Before you even sign up for a product, the very first thing you want is to know what’s in it for you, right?

Most people view user onboarding as just showing users how to use your product once they sign up. While that’s all well and good, to be truly successful and surpass your competition, you have to think of how you can add value to users before the actual sign-up.

Demonstrate value immediately by illustrating why they need to use your product. This means giving users an impressive value proposition: a simple, precise description of what makes your product unique. It’s about selling the benefits, not features.

Potential users shouldn’t have to guess or even think to understand your product. They should be able to understand what you have to offer and why they can’t miss it in a matter of seconds.

“Aha! I totally get it. And I totally need it.” This aha moment is what you want your users to feel as quickly as possible. For that, consider providing a free trial without account creation. Include testimonials and highly relevant screenshot GIFs. Ultimately, do whatever it takes to remove friction from using your product.

2. Keep it crisp

The actual process of user onboarding should be completable within seconds or minutes. Your goal is to help users quickly get started with your product, not to make them experts.

The longer the onboarding process, the lower the likelihood of the user completing it. Creating too many steps will likely make users leave with disappointment. So, focus on designing an onboarding flow that is short and clear.

Make your user onboarding process extremely selective. Narrow the whole process to only a handful of screens or popups that comprise just one key message. Limit the amount of information only to what is really necessary to know in order to get started.

Of course, if your product is a bit complicated, this is easier said than done. In that case, consider breaking your user onboarding process into multiple phases. Use one phase for the initial onboarding and other phases later, only when they are needed.

3. Gamify the process

Regardless of how short you make it, the user onboarding process can still be tedious to many users. They may still be likely to either skip it or leave in the middle of it. This is where gamification and making things interactive can help.

You see, users seek gratification. And “games” provide just that. Gamifying dull onboarding by adding fun elements like progress bars and checklists will make the process more engaging and appealing for your users. As a result, more users will finish it.

Badges and bonuses can spice things up. You can unlock some special features or award badges to users who successfully complete each step in the process, or if they finish it. For instance, Dropbox grants users more free storage space if they finish the user onboarding process.

And with onboarding platforms like Whatfix, designing interactive user onboarding tours is easier than ever.

4. Celebrate small victories

Learning or working with new software can be tough for many users, especially the ones that aren’t very tech-savvy. And so, it is a good idea to show appreciation for each step the user completes.

Because users are, in fact, putting some time and effort to go through the onboarding process. Show that their work is purposeful and not a waste of time and energy. Reveal the “human”, emotional side of your product by celebrating each finished step with the user.

5. Allow users to skip it altogether

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how useful and exciting you design your user onboarding process to be. If users want to skip it, they should always have the option to do so. Never force your users to finish the onboarding process in order to start using the product.

Every individual has their own way of learning. Some prefer to read guides, some wish to watch videos or navigate through interactive tutorials, while others prefer to learn on the go.

Forcing users to go through the onboarding process may lead to churn as not everyone has the patience to oblige. So, always let the users decide whether they want to go through the onboarding, skip it, or even access it later (from the Settings or Help section) if they feel the need.

Over to you

User onboarding is your chance to form a solid first impression on newly signed-up users. Commit to an intuitive and useful user onboarding to see the results for yourself.

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Article Author Details

Gaurav Belani

Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing and loves to read and write about education technology, AI, machine learning, data science, and other emerging technologies. Connect with him on Linkedin and Twitter @belanigaurav