On SaaS UX: designing a great onboarding experience

7 min read
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Designing a great onboarding experience

7 min read

Imaging waking up. Not in your bed but in the cockpit of a 787 Dreamliner. There are a million buttons, handles, and blinking lights. You have no idea what to do. Yet, there are 400 people behind you waiting to get the thing up in the air. Oh, and landing it would be nice as well. This is how your users feel when first launching your application for the first time. Maybe we exaggerated slightly, but still.

It happens way too often, that UX designers forget that they have conducted research, mapped user-flows, and tested interfaces while your users have not. A freshly registered user might not know how everything works or where to find what they need, even if it seems clear to the designer or product team.

Users need onboarding.

What is User Onboarding?

First and foremost, the goal of onboarding is to show or experience the value of a product asap.

User onboarding is a planned series of interactions that help the user ease into your product. Onboarding can be really simple, or very comprehensive. Sometimes a simple greeting will do, in other cases, a tutorial will be needed. So long as you’re providing your users with an on-ramp to the benefits of your product, you’re setting them up for success. Or better put, you’re setting up yourself for success.

A great onboarding experience provides users with what they need to get what they need out of a product. And thus does wonders for your retentive capabilities.

Why is User Onboarding so important?

On average, nearly 25% of users will stop using an application after using it just once. First impressions can be tough. So, just as you don’t try to get the phone number of that hottie at the bar by quoting Star Wars, you want to get this right. It is essential to give your users the right-sized onboarding experience for your product. It is quite likely that the users stopped using an application because they didn’t see the value from the app and weren’t immediately convinced.

When a user makes the effort of downloading or starts using your application, they want to get something out of it. Once they open the app, it’s crucial they feel rewarded for their effort right away. Otherwise, they might try another app. And, can you blame them? Great onboarding can be paramount for your NDR. Implementing new features to your product is great, but if people don’t know how to use them, they’re of no use to anyone.

A great onboarding experience makes sure that your users understand that value that you can deliver, and how much of an impact you can make on their lives. Simply put, a great onboarding makes sure that users keep using your product. And retention is the best growth strategy.

Best practices for a great user onboarding in a SaaS-product.

Make sure new users see the onboarding

Every new user must be able to go through the onboarding flow to help introduce them to the experience and show them how to get the most value out of the application. Also, if the user doesn’t want to go through the process, it must be possible to dismiss the process swiftly.

Use illustrations and movement

Visual content has a much greater impact than text. Make sure to use recognizable illustrations that enable the user to instantly associate the feature to what it does.

Keep your copy short and sweet

The copy of your onboarding must be concise. It’s of the utmost importance that the copy is easy to understand and that every single word is useful. If users don’t get the message they’re very likely to leave. Keep it simple.

Show the progress

A user must be able to see where they are in the onboarding process. By showing users their progress, they know they’re near the end and will likely stay to complete the process.

Keep it consistent

Keep your onboarding visually consistent so your users already feel familiar with the UI, copy, and brand. You want to build on the visual elements you’ve built your application on.

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