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User onboarding can make or break a product’s success. Great user onboarding sets up users for success from the first interaction. Whereas weak user onboarding creates unnecessary frustration and quick abandonment. That’s why we assembled this list of great onboarding examples that inspire us.
1. Developing an onboarding framework
Setting up users for success ASAP is the sign of good user onboarding but there is a great deal of complexity when guiding first-time users. Great user onboarding needs to follow certain guidelines. Successful products use this framework to a certain degree, maximizing and minimizing the parts that best suit their brand, their business and their users.
Sometimes apps are frustrating and abandoned because they are poorly made. And then there are times where the app wasn’t the right fit for you. This is product misalignment and the biggest perpetrator is bad copy.
Your product’s first impression happens with your ad copy. Making sure it’s setting up the right expectations helps users act faster (and be less confused).
Too often products create an unnecessary amount of steps between their first time users and the core value of their product. In addition to having the steps you need, let users know how long the onboarding will be. This is best done through a progress bar.
Now when I say personalization I don’t mean just having the user’s name greet them in the dashboard. Design an experience that segments your users based on their goals. This is a good near universal rule for user onboarding.
One of the best ways to know if you are having a good user onboarding experience is to measure it. A great metric that is key to track early on, Time To Value (TTV). One of the cornerstones of successful user onboarding is how quickly it delivers value to the user. Rather, how quickly the user recognizes value. Related to TTV are AHA moments. Less of a metric and more of a product terminology, it is important to pair them together. Where TTV measures how long to recognize value, AHA moments is the moment the value is realized.
For more product metrics, click here.
At a certain point, people are going to struggle with your product. Offering some kind of guidance helps users get where they need to go and keeps them on their journey.
Design- Yes, design is a given when discussing products, regardless of user onboarding or not. Specifically , we are talking about the design that helps nudge first time users and guide them to their first few aha moments. The type of design that makes them at ease and helps them take action. This can be done with relevant onboarding questions, hotspots, design wizards and more.
Content– This is a broad term and for good reason. The most effective content is the UX writing in the product experience. This is where you want users to be. The second is emails. Emails highlight and support the brand’s voice outside of the product experience. The third is supporting content, such as FAQ, white papers and blogs.
Customer support– when content doesn’t get the job done, having a team that can walk users through their issues can help in the onboarding phase and other difficult moments.
Trails are an interesting factor in user onboarding. They are there at the very beginning of user onboarding and they also signal an important milestone in user onboarding, where the user is deciding to be a customer.
Note: there is the freemium approach, which is more of a business model than a type of trail.
The part you don’t see directly. I can say with 99.9% certainty that the less friction there is in a user onboarding experience, the more effective collaboration there is behind the scenes. What makes this effective, is having a user onboarding hypothesis. A metric definition of a person who has accomplished the bare minimum to reach the highest statistical chance of product adoption.
2. User onboarding examples
Canva’s user onboarding is clean and straightforward. This is a prime example of segmented user onboarding, right out the gate. The first action (after asking for email, and password) is to ask users their goals via their profession. This helps place them among the templates that are going to be most aligned with their goals. It is only when a user picks a template do they see a series of instructional messages.
Biggest strength: segmented user onboarding and easy instructions
Grammarly’s user onboarding utilizes two key strengths.
1) The establishment of the users’ goals. They make the conscious choice to do this before they’ve placed the user in the product so the user can focus on understanding the product itself.
2) They use hotspots well, pointing out how to quickly navigate between the different features, what the colors mean for each correction suggestion and the grading of the product.
This is a great example of learning by doing.
Strongest point: Establishing goals and then using hotspots to help user understand the color coding, accepting corrections and the key features of the product.
Twitter’s user onboarding is successful for a few key reasons.
1. Everyone knows twitter. They don’t need to explain the product or how to use it as part of their onboarding.
2. Users can take their time or rush right through. Apart from the login screen, no screen is rushed or mandatory. The onboarding flow puts an equal emphasis on personalization (bio and interests) and getting you to follow other users.
Note: these are the screens that are necessary and help deliver the most value for the user.
Strongest point: While this onboarding sequence does have a lot of screens, most of them are skippable. The mandatory following screen has the opportunity to personalize the user’s feed.
Netflix user onboarding has a great rhythm. Three screens to go through, three pieces of data to digest on each screen, with the exception of the last screen.
Whereas Twitter demonstrated a strong brand doesn’t need to explain its product, Netflix takes this one step further: no free trial. Netflix can break the rule of free trials because people don’t need weeks to understand the value the platform provides: entertainment.
Perhaps the best for last, Slack. Slack’s user onboarding is the definition of less is more. The first section of their user onboarding asks four things from its users, two of which are skippable.
- Company/team name
- What your team is working on
- Team member invitation
They don’t need to ask about company size, team size or your department. They only ask for these four pieces of information, to provide context for whomever you communicate with.
In fact, their subheadline reinforces this: “Slack is a messaging app for teams.” Their onboarding takes a Productivity>Personalization approach so people can start communicating.
It isn’t until users are in their slack channel do they realize that they’ve built something, a slack channel. That plus a collaborator is all they needed to get started.
They also have a well defined user onboarding hypothesis
It is easy to remember and share across all departments that might have some interaction or direct impact with the users.
What’s great about these particular products is not only are they great examples to learn from but the more valuable lesson here is the iterations they took to achieve this form. Every single one of these examples started with an onboarding process that was less successful. And as the product and markets evolved, so did the onboarding.