Aishwarya Ramanathan

User Onboarding 101 - Learn the Art of Perfect Onboarding

When you build an app with several features, guiding your users with an onboarding tutorial will ensure they stick around to appreciate the many features you offer.
Aishwarya Ramanathan

"Where I'll float next?" A feeling we can all identify with. Be it while dealing with life, navigating around a new city or perhaps when figuring out a new app.

As an app developer or designer, there are several ways in which you can make the journey around your app easy for your new users. While you build an app with several features,  guiding your users with an onboarding tutorial will ensure they stick/retain around to appreciate the many features you offer. User onboarding is the art of making users find value within your app right away.

What is User Onboarding?

“User onboarding is a process of improving a person's success with a product or service “

It is also a quick tour or a summary of your app and a subtle way of telling your users what is the essence of the app, and what value you want to show your users in your application in their first time experience. Well, they say “The first impression is the best impression“, this is an instance that proves the saying. Show your users what they expect to see and they are going to stay! Win-win for you by getting them retained and for users who know what they are going to get out of the app.

This is the perfect beginning of your product-led growth.

User Onboarding Vs Product Tour

“ User onboarding and a product tour are not the same “
When you give a sample of the platter and the entire platter, it’s not the same. You’ll be seeing the sample in the entire platter, but you also focus on all the other elements. The same is onboarding and product tours. A product tour is when you explain each and every functionality of all the features in the tool. And onboarding is when you give a glimpse of what a specific feature can give you. Showing a feature that is likely to improve your retention or showing the users the value of the app as soon as they install, it is a smart way to keep your KPI numbers high. No harm right?

Why Users Like Onboarding Walkthroughs

“ Okay, I understand its benefits for me, but what about my users?”
We saw how it benefits you, so now let’s dive into the impact on the ultimate consumers of your app - your users. What does it have for your users when you onboard them? Is there any benefit for them in the first place? Of course yes! Did you know 40 to 60% of free trial users use a product once and never come back? Could be one of the two reasons -

1) Too complex to use the app and they don’t know what to do.

2) They don’t find value from it.

Naturally, you are going to want to solve the issue! (Duh!) and what if there was a single fix for all these issues? Amazing right? User onboarding to the rescue!

User Onboarding Improves First Time User Experience leading to Retention

Users want to know what’s in the app just by looking at it. Even after having an extremely crisp design for the app, if the value of the app and its exciting sparkly features aren’t discovered, it makes the path to retention rocky. That’s when an onboarding walkthrough for a new user gets helpful by showing what’s around in your application. It showcases your application in the way you want it to be portrayed and also tells what the user can do. When you have a niche feature that outshines your product in the market jargon, the best time to do it is when you create an impression for the first time - which will be their first time experience using your product. All you need to be doing is guide them and give a bit of your hand, and that’s it! Once they stand, they’ll start walking and eventually run along all the features of the app.

And that's the first step to product-led growth.

What’s the Process of User Onboarding?

Hmmm, that’s nice to know! So when should I fire my shots ?
There are different screens in your app where you can target users to educate them as to what they can do or what they should be doing. To make things simple, let’s split it into two categories : Before the user is taken to the home screen and Once the user sees the home screen.

Before they reach the home screen :

One way of doing onboarding here is by having banner messages showing what your app stands for when they are at the login page. Having one word or one line descriptions with a minimal gif or an animation would do the job perfectly. “Minimal Content” is the approach that works best for such scenarios. Stuffing users with content all at once when all they want to log into your app is definitely a big NO NO. Taking them through the login screens with less and to the point content helps the user in remembering what they see and won’t overwhelm them too.

Minimalistic User Onboarding Screen

After reaching the home screen :

As soon as they see the home screen, there are a lot of things happening. Banners, buttons, images.. Everything! Highlighting a  feature that shows the value of the app or improves the KPIs you are expecting the user to achieve, makes it easier for the user and you. As a user, I know where the feature is located and what is supposed to do and when I click, I will be taken along the path you would expect me to. And as a product manager, I know that the feature that stands out is also being discovered by the user and they now know what they came to the app for.

Highlighting Important Features Using Behavioral Cues

While you are on the plan to onboard users on their first time on the app, it can get very chaotic when you try to show everything on the screen at the same time. Users can be impatient and might not want to do everything that you say. So disrupting their flow of using the app by creating a lot of feature announcements can irritate them and eventually can lead to a spike in uninstall numbers. In cases like these, a smart solution can be like onboarding users when they use a feature on their will. So in this way, their natural path is also taken into consideration and you get to tell them what to do as well. This is where contextual walkthroughs are really helpful.

How to Create Contextual Walkthroughs?

Where’s my gun? Need to fire my shots!
Introducing ABC47 (like AK47?) - Apxor to shoot .. in real time and contextually, by understanding user behaviour and personas, in your app! Apxor is a product intelligence platform that not just allows you to find out cool stats about your app, but let’s you act and experiment on these cool stats. Sometimes just knowing what can work and what won’t work isn’t sufficient. The ability to test it in real time on your users gives a concrete stand to say that your hypothesis is actually an insight to act upon.  

Apxor has built in edge intelligence lets you create onboarding tutorials screen wise, event wise and even based on the time spent on a specific screen - idle time and active time as well. Isn’t that cool? Well this is just the beginning of a massive personalization package for you to onboard and give your users the best of the best first time and nth time experience by guiding them subtly.

With Apxor you get the best of both worlds. You now know the different places you can target users - in their first time of app experience or while they discover a feature in their natural path. Using contextual walkthroughs, you can achieve launching onboarding tutorials or feature announcements when a feature is clicked on and can redirect them to a new screen.

Welcome Message

Best user onboarding walkthroughs

What are some of the best onboarding walkthroughs? How have successful brands implemented walkthroughs?

Here we have listed 5 best mobile app user onboarding walkthroughs. Similarly, here are some wonderful web walkthroughs listed by Chameleon. These examples give a fair idea of how the onboarding walkthroughs look like and how they help users in understanding the value that the product is providing.

What Will Happen if You Don’t Use Onboarding Tutorials?

What’s the risk that you’ll be taking when you don’t launch onboarding tutorials?
Most of the users don’t even reach the home screen after signing up / sign in or they leave the app without even doing any activity. Giving the users a little push that they need in order to understand the app better, helps in early activation.

Ok, I got it but isn't this a LOT of work?
Apxor provides you with many pre set templates for every user need. Choose one of the templates and customize it to satisfy your context and make your analysis and actions zero code. You got that right, no code at all! These zero code zero load templates are flexible and can be targeted for any context in your app. Your in-app engagement with users gets to the next level with messages you provide, and the ultimate customizable messages are those when they even include details with respect to the user itself! Apxor has a cool feature - Macros, when you can customize the message text with the user name, giving a more personal touch to it.

Easy to use Apxor Dashboard

Use Data Effectively

You can identify user drop off points with Apxor’s Product Intelligence and see where the users are dropping off the most and concrete on specific steps to be more detailed to make sure that they get to the end of the path and reach the conversion event. Better to be data driven than hunch driven, I say!

New users who come to your app are motivated and hungry to make the most out of your app, so ensure that you are making it easier for them to do so. Now you know what to do, where to do, how to do user onboarding for your users. What are you waiting for? Go create the best onboarding experiences your users will ever have!

Also check out about Hubspot's product-led onboarding tricks here.

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