TNW 2015: Samuel Hulick — Onboarding flows ...

TNW 2015: Samuel Hulick — Onboarding flows matter. As a product owner you should care.

Here’s a given fact: 50% of new users (of an average product) never log back in after the first visit, and only 15% of users actually convert to real usage. To target this percentage in order to activate new users, the user on-boarding flow is very important. At The Next Web 2015 aFrogleap was inspired by the talk of Samuel Hulick who is a UX designer from Portland with a focus on onboarding flows.

What is Onboarding? Onboarding is the flow or customer journey that gets the user up and running with your product. Often it’s been offered as a tutorial overlay on a screen that explains a lot of stuff at the same time which interrupts the user flow. Users are tend to skip these helping guides, because they think it’s not really useful at that moment and they just want to begin with what they were looking for. You all know the slideshow of new features or tips that come by after an update of with a first release. Users swipe these screens away as fast as they swipe potential dates away in Tinder.


A key recommendation from Samuel is to help the user to do the ‘first next thing’ when the user lands on a screen and is ready to move forward. Take the user by the hand and for example guide him/her through the steps of signing up or loggin in. A great example of a tooltip with a call to action — and not only a reminder — is created by business communication tool Slack. They created the Slackbot which guides you step by step through setting up your profile. Slackbot actually feels like you are interacting with a human who is very helpful ☺. This gives the user the feeling that a relationship is created through the experience.

Slack: Slackbot message to introduce yourself step by step.

Another important learning is to give the user insights in the actual value of the product before you ask them to create an account or convert to a payment. This creates two benefits. First of all it avoids frustrations or hold ups for users. The second benefit is that users are actually knowing and maybe even feeling the value for which they need to do an effort or pay. You create value of the product for the user, because they simply are better informed. After this introduction the users are more likely to create an account or convert.

A great way to get into this mindset of creating a user experience that creates the right effort vs. value experience for users it to hold onto the following mantra: “Start your designing where the user starts using”.

Another example of a product that focusses more on what the user’s experience is Basecamp, which provides the user with a ‘to-do checklist’ of the steps to take in order to get the most out of the Basecamp experience. Empty states need to be ‘warming and welcoming’ after on boarding. Nothing is as annoying as arriving in an experience that is empty. Think about an empty twitter feed, or Spotify without any lists, friends or tips. Help the user by taking the first actions to get the dashboard filled. Don’t just say “You have no chats/friends”, but give suggestions what to do next or what to check out.

Everybody is looking at the progress checkers on LinkedIn to see if they can do something that creates a better future experience. After you did finish a step and you progress it is important to positively reinforce the user that they have progressed. This will improve the relationship the user has with your product and will make it more likely that they preceive the step as an increase of value.