Oct 24, 2023

Unlock the Secrets: Ethical User Onboarding UX for Maximum Engagement

Raphaël Alexandre

CPO @ Jimo

In the competitive landscape of Tech SaaS companies, the user onboarding process serves as a critical juncture that can significantly influence user retention. While the objective to maximize user engagement is clear, it brings along a set of ethical considerations that are often overlooked. The question that arises is whether your onboarding strategies are merely engaging your users or leading them down a path of addiction. This article aims to dissect this fine line and offer actionable solutions that are specifically tailored for Product Managers. We will delve into the complex interplay between user experience and ethical design and UX, providing a comprehensive guide for navigating this intricate terrain.

The Dilemma: Engagement vs. Addiction

In the Tech SaaS industry, the user onboarding process is far more than an initial phase. The ultimate goal is to achieve the highest levels of user engagement. However, this objective brings forth a complex ethical dilemma: how can one engage users without creating a dependency that borders on addiction?

The ethical considerations in this scenario are far from trivial and require a nuanced approach. User engagement is not merely a metric to be maximized but an indicator of the quality of the user experience your product offers. This experience should be crafted carefully to ensure it aligns with the principles of ethical design. The boundary between engagement and addiction can often become blurred due to the use of gamification elements, incessant notifications, and other aggressive engagement tactics that may compromise ethical design.

To dissect this further, let's consider the following elements:

  • User Engagement: This is the cornerstone of SaaS Product Management. It serves as a key performance indicator that reflects the extent to which users find value in your product.

  • Addiction: This is the unintended consequence of excessive engagement strategies. It occurs when the user becomes so engrossed in the product that it starts to have a negative impact on their well-being.

  • Ethical Considerations: These are the moral principles that should guide your engagement strategies. They serve as the differentiating factor between responsible product management and manipulative tactics.

Ethical design should serve as the foundational principle of your user onboarding process. It should go beyond the mere execution of a product tour or the collection of user feedback through NPS & Surveys. The focus needs to be on creating a user experience that respects the user's autonomy, provides genuine value, and fosters a healthy level of engagement without crossing into the realm of addiction.

Why Ethical Design and UX Matter

Long-Term Benefits of Ethical Design and UX

In the competitive landscape of Tech SaaS, ethical design serves as a long-term investment in your product's success. Ethical design principles, when applied to user onboarding, can significantly enhance user retention and brand loyalty. Users today are increasingly aware of their digital rights and are more likely to engage with products that respect their autonomy, privacy, and overall well-being.

By incorporating ethical design into your onboarding process, you're not only meeting these user expectations but also exceeding them. This creates a strong foundation of trust between the user and your brand, making them more likely to become long-term customers. In a market saturated with similar products and services, ethical considerations can serve as a unique selling proposition that sets your product apart from the rest. This differentiation is invaluable in attracting and retaining a loyal user base, thereby positively impacting your bottom line in the long run.

The Risks of Ignoring Ethical Design

On the flip side, neglecting ethical considerations in your user onboarding process can have severe and far-reaching consequences. While manipulative tactics such as dark patterns or aggressive notifications may boost user engagement metrics in the short term, they are likely to lead to user burnout, dissatisfaction, and ultimately, churn, in the long term.

Moreover, regulatory bodies are becoming increasingly vigilant about unethical practices in digital products, particularly those related to data collection, user consent, and privacy. Falling foul of these regulations can result in hefty fines and legal actions, which are damaging not only financially but also in terms of brand reputation. The cost of ignoring ethical design is high, and the risks are too great to be overlooked.

For Product Managers, understanding the long-term benefits and potential risks associated with ethical design can guide more informed, responsible, and ultimately successful decision-making. By prioritizing ethical design, you're investing in a sustainable and respectful user experience (UX), which is beneficial for both the users and the business.

What Does Ethical Design Look Like in User Onboarding UX?

The Anatomy of Ethical User Onboarding

So, you're sold on the idea that ethical design is crucial. Great! But what does that look like in the nitty-gritty world of user onboarding? Well, it starts with transparency. Imagine you're inviting someone into your home; you'd want to make sure they know where everything is, right? The same principle applies here. Users should know what they're getting into from the get-go. This means clear explanations of each step in the onboarding process, and what kind of data you'll be collecting and why.

But it doesn't stop at transparency. Ethical design also means giving users the reins. Autonomy is key. Let them skip steps if they want to, or opt out of data collection. It's their journey, after all. And speaking of journeys, make sure yours is accessible to everyone, regardless of their tech-savviness or any disabilities they may have. Inclusion isn't just ethical; it's smart business.

The Real-World Application: Ethical Tools and Features

Alright, let's get down to brass tacks. You're a Product Manager, and you've got a toolbox at your disposal. How do you use those tools ethically? For starters, think about features like Product Tours or NPS & Surveys.

A Product Tour should be more than a whirlwind trip through your app's flashiest features. It should be a carefully guided journey that respects the user's time and intelligence. As for surveys and NPS, these should be designed to gather honest, unbiased feedback. And remember, always give users the option to opt out. Their experience, their rules.

In essence, ethical design in user onboarding is about respect. And when you get down to it, delivering that value ethically is the best way to build a product that lasts.

The Jimo Advantage: Tailoring User Experience

In Tech SaaS, Jimo stands out as a platform that places a strong emphasis on ethical design within the user onboarding process. While many platforms focus solely on boosting user engagement metrics, Jimo takes a more holistic approach, addressing the ethical considerations that are often overlooked but are crucial for sustainable user retention.

Jimo's suite of features is designed to provide a balanced and ethical user experience. From Product Tours to NPS & Surveys, each feature is crafted to respect user autonomy, provide genuine value, and foster healthy engagement. Integrating ethical considerations is fundamental to the essence of product management, transcending mere compliance requirements. Ethical thinking should be a basic part of how we manage products, not just a list of rules to follow.

One of the standout features is the customization options that Jimo offers. Unlike one-size-fits-all solutions, Jimo allows Product Managers to tailor the onboarding experience to the unique needs and preferences of their user base. This level of customization not only enhances user engagement but also aligns with ethical design principles by giving users more control over their experience.

How Can Jimo's Product Tours Enhance Ethical Design?

Product Tours are a cornerstone of any effective user onboarding process. However, the way these tours are designed can have a significant impact on the ethicality of the user experience. Jimo's Product Tours are crafted with ethical design principles in mind.

Firstly, transparency is a key element. Users are informed at the outset about the purpose of the tour and what they can expect to learn. This sets the stage for an open and honest interaction, which is a cornerstone of ethical design.

Secondly, Jimo's Product Tours are designed to respect user autonomy. Users have the option to skip steps or exit the tour at any point, giving them control over their experience. This is in stark contrast to manipulative designs that force users through a predetermined path.

Using Jimo's NPS & Surveys for Ethical Feedback Gathering

Feedback is the lifeblood of continuous improvement in product management, but the manner in which this feedback is gathered can raise ethical questions. Jimo's NPS & Surveys feature is designed to collect feedback in an ethical manner.

First and foremost, Jimo ensures transparency in its feedback mechanisms. Users are clearly informed about how their data will be used, fulfilling a key tenet of ethical design.

Secondly, Jimo's surveys are opt-in, respecting the user's right to choose whether or not to participate. This aligns with the principle of user autonomy, which is a critical aspect of ethical design.

Lastly, the questions posed in Jimo's NPS & Surveys are carefully crafted to be unbiased and non-leading, ensuring that the feedback gathered is both genuine and ethically obtained.

By employing these ethical practices in its feedback gathering, Jimo not only adheres to ethical norms but also enhances the quality and reliability of the data collected, thereby making more informed and ethical product management decisions.

Practical Steps for Implementing Ethical Design

The integration of ethical design into the user onboarding process is a complex yet crucial endeavor that requires meticulous planning and execution. This is not a mere add-on but a fundamental aspect that should be deeply embedded in your product management strategy. Here are some elaborate steps to guide you through this intricate process:

  1. Conduct an Ethical Audit: Before you even begin to sketch out your onboarding process, it's imperative to conduct an ethical audit. This involves evaluating the potential ethical implications of your planned features, particularly in terms of user engagement and user retention. The audit should be comprehensive, covering everything from data collection methods to user interface design.

  2. User-Centric Design: The cornerstone of any ethical design is a user-centric approach. This means that the onboarding process should be tailored to meet the specific needs and preferences of your user base. It's not just about what you want to achieve in terms of metrics; it's about what the user needs to derive genuine value from your product.

  3. Transparency and Consent: Transparency is non-negotiable in ethical design. Users should be fully aware of how their data will be used and stored. This is particularly important when incorporating features like NPS & Surveys. Explicit user consent should be obtained, and this process should be as straightforward as possible.

  4. Continuous Monitoring: Ethical considerations are not static; they are dynamic and change over time. Therefore, it's essential to continuously monitor the ethical impact of your onboarding features. This involves regular audits and possibly even third-party evaluations to ensure that you are not inadvertently crossing ethical boundaries.

  5. Legal Compliance: Beyond the moral imperatives, there are also legal considerations. Make sure that your onboarding process is in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. This includes data protection laws and accessibility standards, among others. Non-compliance is not an option; the risks are too great, both in terms of potential legal action and reputational damage.

  6. Feedback Loops: One of the most effective ways to ensure that you are on the right ethical track is to implement robust feedback mechanisms. This could be in the form of specialized ethical surveys, direct user interviews, or even an ethics review board comprising internal and external stakeholders.

Checklist for Ethical Design in User Onboarding

For Product Managers aiming to create an ethically sound onboarding process, a checklist can serve as a valuable tool. Here's a comprehensive list to guide you:

  1. Transparency: Have you clearly communicated the purpose and mechanics of each onboarding step to the user?

  2. User Autonomy: Does your process allow users the freedom to skip steps or opt-out of features they find irrelevant or intrusive?

  3. Informed Consent: Are users provided with complete information about how their data will be used, and is their explicit consent obtained?

  4. Accessibility: Is your onboarding process universally accessible, catering to users with varying levels of technical proficiency and physical abilities?

  5. Value-Driven Engagement: Does your onboarding offer real, tangible value to the user, as opposed to creating a cycle of dependency?

  6. Legal Compliance: Have you conducted a thorough legal review to ensure full compliance with relevant laws and regulations?

  7. Feedback Mechanism: Have you established channels for collecting user feedback specifically related to ethical considerations?

By adhering to this checklist, you can ensure that your user onboarding process is not only effective but also ethically responsible, thereby contributing to long-term user engagement and retention.

Challenges and Solutions in Implementing Ethical Design and UX

Implementing ethical design in user onboarding is a noble goal, but it's not without its challenges. Product Managers often find themselves navigating a complex landscape of ethical dilemmas, technical limitations, and business pressures. Here are some common challenges and practical solutions:

  1. Balancing Metrics and Ethics: One of the most significant challenges is balancing the drive for high user engagement metrics with ethical considerations. The solution lies in long-term thinking; prioritize ethical practices that may not yield immediate results but will build trust and user retention over time.

  2. Resource Constraints: Ethical design often requires additional resources, be it time or manpower, which can be a hurdle for many companies. To overcome this, start small. Implement ethical practices in phases and allocate resources judiciously.

  3. Legal Complexities: Keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of data protection laws and regulations can be daunting. The solution is to consult legal experts and ensure that your onboarding process is always in compliance with the latest laws.

  4. User Feedback: Gathering ethical feedback from users can be challenging, especially when users are not fully aware of the ethical implications of certain features. Educate users about these implications and create transparent channels for them to provide feedback.


In the fast-paced world of Tech SaaS, ethical considerations in user onboarding can often take a backseat to more immediate concerns like user engagement and product metrics. However, as we've explored in this article, ethical design is not just a moral imperative but a business necessity. It has long-term benefits that contribute to sustainable user retention and can protect your company from potential legal pitfalls.

For Product Managers, the call to action is clear: start integrating ethical design principles into your user onboarding process today. Begin with an ethical audit, follow through with a user-centric design approach, and continuously monitor and adjust your strategies to ensure they align with ethical standards. Consult legal experts to stay compliant with laws and regulations, and most importantly, keep the lines of communication open with your users. Your ethical considerations should not be a one-time initiative but a continuous effort that evolves with your product and user base.

By taking these steps, you're not only adhering to ethical principles but also setting your product up for long-term success. Ethical design enhances user retention by building trust and providing genuine value, which in turn positively impacts your bottom line.


Raphaël Alexandre

CPO @ Jimo

CPO @ Jimo

CPO @ Jimo

Share article


Want Insights from Jimo sent straight to your inbox?

Join ever-growing community of 100+ product teams who have harnessed the power of Jimo Insights.

By clicking send, you’ll receive Product Insight updates from Jimo. You always have the choice to unsubscribe from every email you receive.


Want Insights from Jimo sent straight to your inbox?

Join ever-growing community of 100+ product teams who have harnessed the power of Jimo Insights.

By clicking send, you’ll receive Product Insight updates from Jimo. You always have the choice to unsubscribe from every email you receive.


Want Insights from Jimo sent straight to your inbox?

Join ever-growing community of 100+ product teams who have harnessed the power of Jimo Insights.

By clicking send, you’ll receive Product Insight updates from Jimo. You always have the choice to unsubscribe from every email you receive.