Giving a Helping Hand: How to Create a Pleasant and Convenient Onboarding Process

When we talk about user experiences in the digital world, a user’s first impression is definitely an important parameter. Because of the great abundance of apps and websites on the market, it is extremely important to give users the best experience possible when they first use your product, simply because otherwise they will abandon your product and move to competitors (which in many cases include several options). Therefore, we strive to create a great experience when users first enter and get to know your system — also known as an onboarding experience —  in a way that is most suitable for your users. But how do you do it? That’s exactly why we’re here, to present the way we believe onboarding processes should operate and also to give some examples from projects we’ve done in the past.

Understanding the User

As with any project we work on in the studio, we first sit and listen. We begin by setting up a number of meetings with a potential client’s with the goal of learning a little about their existing (or emerging) product, about the needs in the field that are not being met today, and how in their vision for their system comes to meet these needs. We like to hear in as much detail as possible how clients describe the expected users of their system, and what leads their users to act the way they do. As we introduce ourselves to the world of the client, we are interested in learning anything and everything there is to know about the client’s field, their users, and more.

After a process of understanding and entering this new world, we like to explore what exists within the field not only in Israel but all around the world, and we gather a list of direct and indirect competitors for the product that is taking shape in order to both understand trends in the field as well as understand how to provide a better experience for users.
Selected onboarding screens from a project with Skillset, who specialize in job recruitment. Users must answer several questions such as job scope, education level, and hobbies in order to adjust the system for themselves.

Onboarding and how it fits into the product

Onboarding is the preliminary step to starting work in a system and it a variety of goals, which differ in essence. Below is the range of topics which a typical onboarding will cover:

  1. Welcome and Registration: The onboarding process often begins with a warm welcome message or a guided tour that introduces the platform’s value proposition. New users are asked to register and create an account.
  2. Guided Tour or Tutorial: To help users get started quickly, an interactive guided tour or tutorial introduces the platform’s core features and functionality. This may highlight essential buttons, menus and options, providing a hands-on experience.
  3. Setting up a user profile: Encouraging users to complete their profile helps personalize their experience and may enable personalized recommendations and content.
  4. Contextual help and tooltips: Contextual help and tooltips can provide on-the-spot guidance as users navigate the platform, offering explanations for specific elements and actions.
  5. Sample Data or Dummy Content: On some platforms, using sample data or dummy content allows users to explore and interact with platform features before using their real data.
  6. Progress indicators: For multi-step onboarding processes, progress indicators let users know where they are in the onboarding journey, reducing uncertainty and frustration.
  7. Interactive demos and interactive elements: Interactive elements, such as sliders, buttons or checkboxes, can encourage users to actively participate in the opt-in process, making it more engaging and memorable.
  8. Personalized recommendations: Based on the user’s preferences and interactions during the opt-in process, the platform may offer personalized recommendations or offers tailored to their needs.
  9. Highlight key features: Important features and unique selling points are often highlighted during onboarding to showcase the value and benefits of the platform.
  10. Gather Feedback: The onboarding process is an opportunity to gather user feedback and identify pain points or areas for improvement.
  11. Customer support information: Providing access to customer support channels or FAQs helps users resolve issues they may encounter during an onboarding experience.

This list can be divided into two main aspects – one emphasizes learning the user’s preferences and matching them in the best way for their needs, and the other focuses on teaching users how to operate the system. Not every system will need to perform both steps, and there are systems that will not need an onboarding process at all. Usually, such a process is only characteristic of systems that have many initial settings which are important to set up. Another use case includes teaching users how to navigate and orient a complex system. Just like on a first date when two people meet in a cafe or bar and get to know each other through a conversation that sometimes involves questions and answers, so too is the relationship between the system and its users — a real tango for two.

Preference learning phase

As previously mentioned, not every system will include the phase of learning preferences. At this stage we would like to allow the user to make several choices to adapt the system to their needs by answering a few limited questions. Our ambition is always to give the user questions that are as easy as possible to answer, ones that do not require them to bring information that is not in their possession at a given moment, in order not to delay the process of entering the system. Again, we remind you, we want to make it as easy as possible for the user during their first steps in the system so as not to give them the desire to leave because it is too difficult or tiring to understand what is being asked of them since there is a chance that they will quit in the middle.
We would also like not to burden the user and always show them, by using progress bar or the wizard, how many steps they have left to finish the process. There are cases where we will even increase and reflect the estimated time for the answer.
Selected onboarding screens from Playform — a company in the field of soccer. Users have to answer basic questions such as how many times a week they train, what position they play, and where they want to improve so that the system can adjust itself to the user.
Selected screens from the Synamedia Iris product which deals with television advertising campaigns. You can see a combination of a training checklist, along with the use of tooltips that explain specific components.

System training for users

This step is also not mandatory for every system, and we use it only with very complex systems when we want to help the user by emphasizing the things that are important for them. The process can be influenced by the previous step where we learned a thing or two about the user, and can also be more general for all users of a system. Again – it all depends on the system we are working on.

This step can be performed in a variety of ways – whether it is through creating a checklist of first tasks to be performed (sometimes practical experience is the best way to learn, of course with close training), or through the use of tooltips that highlight specific components and provide a brief explanation of their use. We can of course combine a variety of tools together and create a wider training set. We would like to answer several questions in this phase. For example, does the user have to go through this process only once or is there a need to return to the process in the future to examine it a second time? What are the tasks that are highly prioritized in terms of importance in the system but are the most difficult to understand (to which we would like to provide the most initial answer in our training)? And so on and so forth…

Reference database in the studio

We will reveal a little secret to you here. Because onboarding processes are very similar in nature and involve similar elements in every system we work on, our studio’s UX research team have created a very large database of references from all kinds of worlds of applications, websites and complex systems, and update it once in a while. The purpose of the database is to facilitate our process, and also the process that our customers go through, with the aim of refining together the general direction in which we would like to turn. We will always want to examine a variety of existing solutions on the market in order to check whether they meet the needs of our system. Most of the times we draw inspiration from several sources and create one onboarding process that meets the needs of our specific customers in their specific system. The construction process is done together with the customer, who we show a variety of options and together with them aim to understand what is the right direction for his specific product.

You have to remember – users are used to certain rules of a system, so even in the onboarding process we would like to conventions that are familiar and comfortable to them as much as possible. Of course, we would also like to surprise, to bring our innovative side, but we do it in the right dose and at the right time for the user who is first onboarding into the system.

Selected screens from Synamedia’s SaaS Admin product in the field of television campaigns. You can see the use of a side panel that accompanies the user in performing the first tasks such as uploading data, configuring integrations, and inviting additional members.

Want to hear more about the process? Interested in exploring joint work with us? Contact us

customization, onboarding, אונבורדינג, ברוכים הבאים, הגדרת פרופיל, סיור מודרך, רישום

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