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Your new product just launched. Congratulations! There’s just one problem. As you start tracking user data, you’ve noticed a significant dip in user retention. A good chunk of users aren’t even making it to your core offerings. 

Essentially, users who download your app are likely not to use it beyond those first 24 hours. More specifically, the average app will lose 73% of potential users within 1 day, and roughly 90% within the first week.

How can you provide an experience that is informative, intuitive, and turns new users into long-time customers? That’s where user onboarding comes in.

What Is User Onboarding? 

User onboarding describes the steps a user goes through when trying out your product and service. It should provide first-time users with a streamlined experience that not only validates your product’s value, it teaches them how to effectively use your platform. 

A great onboarding experience is seamless: it points out and briefly demonstrates core functions, notes where advanced users can dig into the details, and only lasts as long as it needs to. 

It’s also ubiquitous, as onboarding expert Samuel Hulick notes, “Onboarding is the only part of a product that every single user will experience.”  It needs to be easy to navigate while also immediately explaining your product offerings. 

What Does Good Onboarding Look Like?

User onboarding is the process that shows users what your product is. It’s the first time new users will experience what you have to offer in terms of user experience and product offering, so it’s critical to get this right. Otherwise, you risk losing them as customers for good. 

Ideally, user onboarding is so seamless users don’t realize they’re going through it. It’s intuitive, useful, and once users are done, they leave with no follow up questions or unanswered concerns. 

At its core, good onboarding:

  • Helps users get to the product’s value early into the experience while also offering guidance.
  • Plays an important role for both users and organizations.
  • Is measured and adjusted with hypotheses and assumptions tested against data and metrics, evolving over time.
  • Uses the appropriate pattern for the desired path and initial user outcome.
  • Leverages out-of-app cues sparingly, and in a focused way.

User Onboarding Benefits 

It’s not only users that can benefit from your onboarding process, though. Insights from your onboarding can allow internal teams to revise your approach and improve the new user experience even more.

Immediate user benefits include: 

  • Providing contextual guidance
  • Ensuring product fit/alignment
  • Guaranteeing user satisfaction

A good user onboarding provides benefits within a closed loop: improving the users’ experience benefits the org—and vice versa. Throughout it all, don’t forget who your target audience is, what their habits tend to be, or what they’ll be most likely to interact with. Your end users are the main priority first and foremost. It’s all well and good to make the process optimized for back-end simplicity, but it’s crucial that onboarding steps are logical to new users. 

Like many aspects of a product launch, user onboarding is an iterative process that can be redesigned, reconfigured, and improved at any time. If you’re seeing a steep drop-off in activity at specific points in the onboarding process, or your customer support team is receiving the same feedback from users confused with certain aspects of your app, it may be time to see exactly what is and isn’t working.

This is why heavy user testing is so critical. There’s no better way to receive first-hand feedback on workflows, design, and copy and guarantee your updates will make sense to users.

All this to say, the better your onboarding experience, the more likely it is that new users will make it to your core services and keep coming back.  

Find The Onboarding Experience that Works for Your Users

Think of onboarding somewhat akin to a video game tutorial. Different genres offer different tutorial lengths, highlight different unique experiences, and go in-depth on different aspects of game mechanics. Just make sure the onboarding pattern you chose makes sense for your industry and target audience. 

Brainstorm with your team about how you might leverage the unique strengths of your product and team to make a top-class onboarding experience that keeps users informed and excited to return.  

New to designing a solid user onboarding experience? Or looking for tips on how to improve yours? Don’t fret. Even experienced teams can have a tough time understanding exactly what their audience is looking for. That’s where experience like ADK comes in.