Jul 24, 2023

User Onboarding: 6 Examples of Success Stories to Inspire you

Thomas Moussafer

Co-founder @ Jimo

Successfully converting a visitor into a user is already a challenge. But if the onboarding experience you give him is disappointing, your efforts can come to nothing. The first moments your user spends on your platform are crucial. So, to make sure you keep your new users, here are 6 examples of successful user onboarding and the keys to a successful experience.

What do you mean by user onboarding? 🤔

The user onboarding process consists of accompanying your users from their very first contact with your software until they are fully operational and feel confident to explore the depths of its functionalities. Think of user onboarding as a series of steps strategically designed to familiarize your users with your tool, gradually and without overwhelming them with information from the outset.

It's a bit like giving them a guided tour of the ship 🚢, showing them the highlights and important features, while avoiding the dark corners and complex mazes.

Here are a few concrete examples of techniques used during user onboarding:

  • Interactive tutorials: this can take the form of clever pop-ups, explanatory videos or practical step-by-step tips to help them feel at ease.

  • Personalized messages: you can send instructions to your users to welcome them on board, thank them for their trust and encourage them to explore further. This shows them that you care about them and are there to support them throughout their journey.

  • Progressive features: start by introducing the essential and easiest-to-use features, then unveil more advanced features as your users gain confidence.

  • Fun incentives: these can be badges, rewards or even little games to make the experience more engaging and entertaining.

Why is user onboarding so important? 🎨🔬

Let’s get real for a second. How many times have you signed up for a new app or service, only to be bombarded with a confusing mess of features? Too many, right? That’s where user onboarding comes in. It’s the magical process that helps new users go from “What the heck is this?” to “I can’t live without this!” 🚀

But wait, is it an art or a science? Well, my friends, it’s both! 🎭🔬

  • On the art side, we’ve got creativity. Imagine you’re painting a masterpiece, but instead of a canvas, it’s the user experience. You’re crafting a journey that’s engaging, intuitive, and downright delightful. 🖌️

  • On the science side, it’s all about data-driven decision-making. We’re talking A/B testing, analytics, and user feedback. It’s like being in a lab, but instead of test tubes, you’ve got data. Lots of data. 📊

But why does this matter? Well, user onboarding is the first impression your product makes. It’s like a first date. You wouldn’t show up without brushing your hair, would you?

So, let’s break it down. The art is about understanding the human side of the equation. What makes users tick? What makes them happy? The science is about taking that understanding and turning it into action. What features do users love? Where do they get stuck?

By combining these two forces, you can create an onboarding experience that not only wows your users but turns them into lifelong customers. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?

Stay tuned as we dive into some epic success stories of SaaS companies that totally nailed it. Spoiler alert: It’s gonna be awesome. 🎉

Let the onboarding games begin!

The Importance of First Impressions 👀

Let’s talk first impressions, folks! You know what they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And boy, is that true in the world of user onboarding! The first user experience is like the opening scene of a blockbuster movie. It’s gotta grab your attention and leave you begging for more.

Why? Because that initial experience sets the tone for everything that follows. It’s the golden ticket to user engagement and retention. Nail it, and you’ve got users sticking around like bees to honey. But botch it, and they’re out faster than you can say “bounce rate.”

So, what’s the secret sauce? It’s simple: Be clear, be helpful, and for Pete’s sake, be interesting!

Personalization in Onboarding 🎯

Now, let’s get personal. No, not that kind of personal. We’re talking personalization in user onboarding. Imagine walking into a party and everyone knows your name. Feels pretty good, right? That’s what personalization feels like to your users.

But it’s not just about names. It’s about making the onboarding experience relevant and engaging for each individual user. Think custom content, tailored recommendations, and settings that make sense.

Why does this matter? Because users don’t want a one-size-fits-all experience. They want something that feels like it was made just for them. 🎁

And guess what? When users feel like you get them, they’re more likely to stick around. It’s like finding your tribe. So, get to know your users, and give them an onboarding experience that’s as unique as they are.

6 examples of SaaS companies that know how to onboard their users 🏆

Hold onto your hats, folks! We’re about to take a whirlwind tour through the hall of fame of SaaS companies that totally crushed it in the user onboarding department. Let’s dive in!

1. Slack: Mastering Communication from the Get-Go 🗨️

Onboarding Excellence

When a new user signs up for Slack, they are greeted with a friendly welcome message. The onboarding process is designed to be interactive, with a series of tooltips guiding the user through the initial setup. Users are encouraged to create a workspace, invite team members, and set up channels. Slack also offers a brief tutorial on how to send messages and mentions, ensuring that users understand the core communication features. The onboarding process is not just informative but also engaging, with a clean and clutter-free interface that reduces cognitive load for new users.

Seamless Communication

Slack’s channels allow teams to organize conversations around topics or projects. The direct messaging feature is perfect for quick questions or more focused conversations. Slack’s search functionality is incredibly powerful, making it easy to find the information you need.

Integrations and Customizations

What sets Slack apart is its ability to integrate with a plethora of other tools. Whether it’s Google Drive, Asana, or GitHub, Slack’s integrations ensure that you can centralize your work within one platform. Additionally, Slack allows for customizations such as creating custom emojis and setting status updates.

Continuous Innovation

Slack continues to innovate with features like Slack Huddles, a lightweight way to have audio conversations with your team. This continuous innovation ensures that Slack stays ahead in the communication game.

2. Duolingo: Gamification and Learning Hand in Hand 🎮

Gamified Learning

Duolingo’s onboarding process is designed to be engaging and interactive. Upon signing up, users are asked to select a language they want to learn. They are then given the option to set daily goals, which helps in keeping them motivated. Users can also take a placement test if they already have some knowledge of the language. The onboarding process is gamified, with users earning XP for completing lessons. Duolingo’s mascot, Duo, is also introduced during onboarding, and it becomes a constant companion, offering encouragement and reminders.

Beyond Language Learning

Duolingo has expanded beyond language learning with features like Duolingo Stories and Podcasts, which offer a more immersive learning experience. The app’s mascot, Duo the Owl, has become iconic and even has its own line of merchandise.

A Global Community

Duolingo has built a global community of learners. The forums allow users to connect, ask questions, and share experiences. This sense of community is a powerful motivator for many users.

3. Canva: Empowering Creativity with Ease 🎨

Intuitive Onboarding

Canva’s onboarding process begins by asking new users what they intend to use Canva for, such as personal, work, student, or teacher. This allows Canva to personalize the onboarding experience. Users are then guided through a brief tutorial that showcases how to create a design using templates, elements, text, and more. Canva also highlights its drag-and-drop functionality, which is central to its ease of use. The onboarding process is visually appealing, mirroring the creative essence of the platform.

Templates and Resources

Canva offers a plethora of templates, images, and fonts. The platform caters to different user segments, from social media marketers to educators. Canva Print allows users to print their designs directly through the platform.

Canva Design School

Canva’s Design School offers tutorials and courses, further empowering users. This educational content helps users to not only use Canva effectively but also to understand the principles of good design.

4. Dropbox: Simplifying Cloud Storage ☁️

Effortless Onboarding

Dropbox’s onboarding process is streamlined and straightforward. New users are taken through a simple tutorial that guides them through the basics of uploading files, creating folders, and sharing files. Dropbox also introduces its desktop app during onboarding, explaining the benefits of syncing files across devices. The onboarding process is designed to be quick and efficient, ensuring that users can start using Dropbox without any hurdles.

Seamless Synchronization

One of Dropbox’s standout features is its seamless file synchronization. Files saved in the Dropbox folder are automatically backed up online and synced across all devices. This ensures that your files are always up to date, regardless of where you access them.

Collaboration and Sharing

Dropbox Paper, a collaborative document-editing service, was a game-changer. It allows teams to work together in real-time, fostering collaboration. Sharing options are robust yet easy to use, with permissions ensuring that users have control over who can access their files.

Security and Reliability

Dropbox has put a strong emphasis on security and reliability. Features like two-factor authentication and file recovery ensure that users’ data is secure and retrievable.

5. Asana: Project Management Made Intuitive 📈

User-Friendly Onboarding

Asana’s onboarding process is interactive and user-friendly. New users are guided through a quick tutorial that introduces the main features such as creating projects, adding tasks, and setting deadlines. During onboarding, users are also introduced to Asana’s different views - list, board, and timeline. Asana also showcases its integration capabilities with other tools during onboarding. The process is designed to be engaging, with visual cues and an intuitive interface.

Views and Customization

Asana offers different views such as list, board, and timeline, catering to various project management styles. Custom fields allow for a high degree of customization, ensuring that Asana can be adapted to a wide range of use cases.

Integrations and Automation

Asana integrates with a plethora of tools like Slack, Google Drive, and GitHub. Its automation features allow for routine tasks to be automated, saving time and reducing the scope for errors.

Celebrations and Positivity

One of Asana’s unique features is “Celebrations.” When users complete tasks, they are treated to animations like flying unicorns. This adds an element of fun and positivity to project management.

6. Mailchimp: Navigating Email Marketing with Confidence 💌

Guided Onboarding

Mailchimp’s onboarding process is a step-by-step guide designed to get users up and running quickly. New users are guided through the process of creating an email list, adding contacts, and setting up their first email campaign. Mailchimp also offers templates during onboarding, showcasing how users can create professional-looking emails without any design experience. The onboarding process also highlights the analytics features, explaining how users can track the performance of their campaigns.

Templates and Analytics

Mailchimp’s templates are not just visually appealing; they are designed to be effective. The analytics and reporting features are robust, allowing users to track open rates, click rates, and more.

Expanding Horizons

Mailchimp has evolved into an all-in-one marketing platform, offering services like landing pages, social media ads, and automation. The introduction of AI-powered tools, like Creative Assistant, has further enhanced its capabilities.

Community and Learning

Mailchimp has fostered a strong community with forums and resources. Its learning resources, including guides and tutorials, help users to get the most out of the platform.

Conclusion: What makes a good user onboarding experience? 🥇

So, what have we learned about user onboarding with these remarkable examples?

First, that onboarding is both an art and a science. It’s about wowing users with an amazing first impression, and then keeping them hooked with a personalized experience.

We’ve also seen how the titans of SaaS have nailed their onboarding, and picked up a few tricks along the way.

So go forth, fellow onboarding warriors, and may your user retention rates reach new heights!

Onward to onboarding glory!


Thomas Moussafer

Co-founder @ Jimo

Co-founder @ Jimo

Co-founder @ Jimo

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