Poor Onboarding Experience

The first few days are critical.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is everything that happens from the moment someone signs up to the moment when they are a successful "healthy" customer. All of the little baby steps are part of the onboarding process.

Generally to become successful customers people will have to achieve a certain level of familiarity:

  • They'll have to know what the features are.
  • They'll have to understand how to navigate, and where those features are.
  • They'll have to feel confident that they can accomplish their goals when using your app.
  • They'll have to feel like they're getting enough value out of your app.
  • Ideally they'll "love" your app, look forward to using it, and be so excited that they tell people about it.

Why is it Important?

If your app is very simple (like an email app) most people who signup might be very familiar with what your app does when they start. The reality is that almost no modern (web)app is that simple. Even Gmail has a ton of features that aren’t obvious when you first sign up. That's part of what makes a modern app so appealing -- that fact that we're trying to solve hard problems very easily. This usually means that our app does things differently than most other apps, and that's the rub: Most users have to be taught how to use your app. Ugh.

Why is Onboarding so Hard?

  • People just want it to work perfectly for them on the first try. Most people looking for a solution are looking for something so easy that any learning curve is frustrating.
  • People don't want to read.
  • People don't want to watch videos.
  • People don't want to ask for help.
  • People weren't sold on your product before they signed up.

Different Forms of Onboarding


In addition to the welcome/signup email you can send a series of emails meant to get people comfortable with your app. The purpose of the emails can be:

  • Informing users about features.
  • Inform/remind users to complete tasks such as: filling out an account profile or completing a first task (i.e., upload a logo, invite a member, send an invoice). These things probably correspond to your KPIs.
  • Making users feel comfortable with asking for help. This could include introducing your support team, showing most asked questions (and answers), or simply saying “hello” and asking if they need any help.

In app walk throughs


The purpose of a wizard is to take a bunch things that have to be done to configure your app and break them up into easy to do steps. Once completed the customer should be ready to use your app. One of the best wizards I've every seen is Digit.

You can also use wizards to explain how to do certain tasks.

Nag reminders

These are could be anything from a big red bar at the top of the screen to Intercom to a notifications page with a list of items to do to a progress bar that shows what percentage has been completed.

Further Reading

How to Improve Conversions with Explainer Videos
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