A few years ago, I decided to go on a cultural vacation with a guided tour for the first time after years of walking myself through.
And it changed my view on cultural vacations completely.
I had been visiting different sites and museums my entire life, solely relying on the information in brochures or the internet.
This time, I had someone who could give me relevant and accurate information, exactly when and where it mattered, and I couldn’t help but think of 2 things:
❓ How much time had I spent trying to figure out things on my own all those years?
❓ How much inaccurate information had I consumed?
By the end of the tour, I knew I would remember everything the tour guide told us.
And I know everyone including myself was thinking:
“This place was really worth it! “
Do you think it would be “really worth it” for the group if we had to see the site without a guide, relying only on the brochure and the random signs scattered around?
You know where I’m going with this, right?
Boring user manuals, one-time UI tips, or hours of walkthrough videos won’t get the job done.
If you want a memorable product experience for your active users, it is your responsibility to
And that’s where a guided tour comes into play.
In this article, I’ll go over:
- What a Guided Website Tour is
- Why You Need to use Guided Tours
- How you can create a Guided Tour
- Best Guided Tour Tools and Software
- 2 Examples of Guided Tours
So let’s start with the basics:
What is a Website Tour?
A website tour, also known as a product tour or a guided tour, is a UX pattern that serves as an interactive walkthrough of your website, web product, or software. This can be a single tour that explains the core functions of your product through multiple interactive modals, or a collection of tours that each focus on different features of your product.
These components are mainly used to help users navigate through your product and get onboard with it, although they are pretty effective in improving engagement rates for websites too.
Either way, the tour essentially reviews the main features of your product to help your users understand how everything works and learn about the value of your product.
So, all, in all, guided tours are extremely helpful in:
👉 Educating your users along their user journeys with a high-touch onboarding experience,
👉 Turning your web product into a self-serve experience
Why your Website or Software needs a Guided Tour
You’re probably here to find out how you can create guided tours, preferably ASAP.
But I’m sure you aren’t convinced about the answer to the penultimate question:
“Do I really need an interactive tour of my website?”
So then, let’s address the ultimate question:
What’s wrong with the traditional methods of user education?
Aren’t support articles and a few demo videos enough to get users educated about the product?
They actually are.
But the problem isn’t the quantity or quality of the guidance you’re going to offer them, it’s:
✅ The accessibility, and
✅ The digestibility of that knowledge and guidance you need to provide.
So, basically, users should have direct access to guidelines for your product and its features, and these guidelines should be easy to digest for them.
And how do the traditional methods miss the mark?
Let’s take a closer look:
👉 Online Manuals: Hard to digest
An online manual is a set of written explanations and instructions you can publish on your website.
Almost like a user manual that comes with physical products, like vacuum cleaners.
Yeah, using a vacuum cleaner isn’t rocket science.
So a user manual in that case is more than enough to satisfy users’ needs…
…But is your web product that easy?
Your website or web product is much more complex than a vacuum cleaner.
Plus, there’s a big chance your users haven’t used a platform similar to yours before.
So, your users will definitely have to learn a lot.
The question is whether you want to teach through pages-long user manuals.
Believe me, it will be both indigestible and inaccessible for those who actually go through the manual.
Then again, a big chunk of your new users are going to skip that online manual and try to figure out your product on their own.
And some of them will get so discouraged that the worst scenario will happen – they’ll churn 💀
Needless to say, manuals are definitely off the list for digestible and accessible product adoption.
👉 Product Walkthrough Videos: Hard to create
Preparing videos that walk users through your product is another way to onboard users.
There are some great uses for videos, like:
✅ Showing off basic features and functions,
✅ Archiving product onboarding tours in a video environment for reference in the future, and
✅ Creating a video series demonstrating the best use cases and best practices with limited functionalities or even key features,
And more, like how Mixpanel does:
Videos are more accessible and digestible than user manuals, and they’re definitely a step up from online manuals.
But they bring their own challenges as well.
👉 First off, a user will have to watch the video, then access the product, and then go back and forth between the video and the product to apply the steps,
👉 Second, when the design and UI elements of your website change (which happens more often than you’d think) you’ll have to completely re-shoot the video to stay up to date,
👉 And lastly, it will be hard to create, costly, and time-consuming for you in the end.
So, videos might be digestible and slightly more accessible than manuals, but in the end, they are hard to keep them that way and scale at the same time 🤷
👉 Training Sessions: Time-consuming, Unsustainable & Costly
One of the more preferred methods of user education is definitely training sessions.
Training demos are especially in common use for enterprise-level users and for businesses working with a number of big contracts rather than smaller accounts.
But the thing is, they can get as indigestible and inaccessible as user manuals or product demo videos.
Here’s an example:
Next Fit, a gym management software, was having trouble with their demo calls.
They were using the calls to educate users, but:
👉 Some users needed more than one person to learn about the product, and it would get harder to teach more than one person and sometimes even at different times, requiring several calls,
👉 Their new feature was way too complex for users to understand through a call, without getting real-life experience,
👉 They needed to hold another call with existing users every time a new feature was launched
They needed a digital adoption platform.
And so they started using UserGuiding’s interactive walkthroughs for user activation and self-serve support.
They managed to reduce the number of onboarding video sessions by 80% and the number of support tickets for the new feature by 50%.
And you can do that (and so much more) too! ⬇️
How Guided Tours are changing the game 💡
Interactivity and gamification have been at the forefront of both design and education trends for the last decade.
And they’re here to stay.
So what if I told you that your users don’t have to leave the product to learn how your product works?
That they could be guided in your product real-time?
Guided tours introduce interactivity and real-time assistance for web products, and are both extremely digestible and accessible for any user profile.
Almost every leading website and product/platform offer interactive educational content.
Can you guess what the primary element they use is?
That’s right: Guided tours!
Interactive product tours are:
✅ Accessible, because they’re built right into your product, so your users don’t have to switch browser tabs to access instructions.
✅ Digestible, because your users are going to learn best by completing tasks in real-time.
✅ Less demanding to create and maintain than user manuals and walkthrough videos, because if you’re using the right method, you’ll be able to create and update content with a few clicks.
Convinced guided tours are a necessity?
But first, let’s start creating website guided tours:
Creating a guided tour is not as simple as creating manuals or videos. (Or is it?)
Since you’re creating a guided tour to improve your users’ experience, you need to take users’ needs and motives into account.
You can do all that in 3 simple steps:
#1 – Design the flow 🎨
The first step, of course, is planning.
You need to understand what your users require during their first experience and plan the steps of your guided tour accordingly.
Here’s how you can do that:
✅ Identify the needs, pain points, and motives of users
You first want to go over your website analytics.
That will reveal some insightful data that you can work with and help you see a clear path in your guided tour project.
Then, it is on to conduct user reviews and getting feedback from users to shape up the data you have at hand.
It is good data, but it needs to really take shape for you to start implementation.
Lastly, you want to record heatmaps and user sessions to get into the heads of the users and really see the behavior.
You want to know what they tell you, but what they actually do (your users might not even realize that they are different) is what needs to be reported.
Gather all that up, and you’re ready to:
✅ Devise and create a path your users can take to reach your product’s core value
It is important to be aware of how your product essentially works.
After that, knowing all the wow! and aha! moments, you will have a path that guides your users directly to a core value.
Some popular products get the gist.
For Slack, it’s their fast communication options.
For ClickUp, it’s the ton of functionalities that help people use their time better,
And for your product, it is whatever your value proposition is.
What matters is to make sure the path you created touch the most important elements of the product to finally make the users understand that value.
✅ Divide this path into guided tour steps and design steps
Once you have the path visualized, you can’t just put it in there and call it a day.
A linear user onboarding process might work wonders for some products, but keeping it contextual is the new way to keep users engaged.
By dividing the path into smaller parts, you give your users the chance to actually adopt your product rather than going through an unhelpful product tour.
With contextual guidance, your product and its value get more memorable.
✅ Hand it over to development (if you’re going in-source)
When all is done and you have designed a user journey you are content with, it is time to get it coded by handing it to your product team or engineering team, depending on your company’s structure.
But of course, there are ways of doing this without any coding skills 👀
Using a free product tour solution like Shepherd.js or a digital adoption platform like UserGuiding, you can create user experiences for simple or complex products with ease.
Let’s take a closer look ⬇️
#2 – Choose a method of development
Now you have to choose a method for developing your guided tour on top of your product.
There are 2 main ways you can do this:
The No-Code Way 🤖
The name says it all.
With this method, you adopt a third-party tool that provides you with simple tools to easily create guided tours and other onboarding elements without any coding.
The In-House Development Way 🧑💻
This can also be called the hard way.
With this method, you hand over your design to the product team and development team, who could potentially already be too busy improving your product or creating new features.
The benefit of this method is that you have complete control over what you will create.
But not on the timeline, or the expenses, sadly 🤷
3) Create (and iterate)
If you’ve chosen to use the in-house development way, you’re actually done.
The product team should take care of it now.
If you’re taking the no-code (and lone wolf) path, you need to go into your user onboarding software to start creating your guided product tours.
Here are some tips:
👉 Make sure the design is as user-friendly as possible,
👉 Ask your colleagues and customers to go over it so you can collect qualitative feedback even before users start interacting with it,
👉 Use data from analytics and insights from user feedback to constantly enhance the content
If you go through each of the steps with your end users’ experiences in mind, you’ll create the optimal guided tour for your product that will produce great results.
But let’s get into a little more detail, shall we?
The Best Website Guided Tour Software – Free & Paid
Although there are many user onboarding tools that enable you to interact with your users within and beyond your product, there is one outstanding product tour software that you can use to create guided tours.
I’ll go over one paid and one free option, which are known to help create outstanding self-guided tours for web products.
And more 🚀
So, without further ado, let’s start with:
No-Code Website Guided Tour Software: UserGuiding
UserGuiding is a no-code user onboarding software that can be used to create the perfect guided tours in a matter of minutes.
It is a third-party subscription-based tool offering:
✅ Interactive guides, product tours, walkthroughs,
✅ Hotspots, tooltips, in-app messages,
✅ User onboarding checklists,
✅ Resource centers,
✅ In-app surveys,
The features are also powered with a wide variety of customization options, built-in analytics for onboarding insights, targeting and user segmentation, and…
All other basic functionalities of a digital adoption tool!
But beyond all that, here’s 3 main reasons why UserGuiding is the one you’re looking for:
1- No coding required
Unlike most other product tour software, UserGuiding doesn’t require any coding or technical knowledge to create, integrate, or update guided tours or any other onboarding element.
This is crucial because:
- You won’t depend on developers to create your onboarding
- Everyone on your team can utilize the product from marketing to customer success.
Here’s what I created in just a few minutes on Youtube:
2- Easy to Use With a Wide Variety of User Onboarding Elements
One of the most important qualities of UserGuiding is that it is as easy to use as it gets.
And it owes some of that ease to its big catalogue of onboarding UX patterns and elements to use including:
- Modals to welcome and inform users
- Tooltips and Hotspots to introduce and highlight features
- Self-guided onboarding checklists to gamify your UX
- Resource Centers for 24/7 self-serve support
3- Affordable Pricing
UserGuiding provides the best pricing plans on the market for the features it offers:
- 14-day free trial (no credit card required)
- Basic Plan: $89/month when billed annually for up to 2,500 MAU
- Professional Plan: $389/month when billed annually for up to 20,000 MAU with unlimited guides
- Corporate Plan: $689+/month when billed annually, customized for each business
Interested? Try it for yourself or talk to one of our experts:
Free & Open Source Guided Tour Software: Shepherd.js
If you don’t have any budget to invest in user onboarding and plenty of developer time on your hands, Shepherd.js is your solution instead of other virtual tour software.
With the help of a developer, you can create a guided tour – but it will be limited to only that.
Customization and the variety of onboarding elements will also be limited, with no available analytics or user segmentation.
But as I’ve said, you’ll have a guided tour for free.
3 Guided Website Tour Examples
Now that we’ve covered all the what/why/how questions and you’re aware of the process and the methods of making a guided tour, let’s see what it should actually look like.
Let’s look at 3 good examples of guided web tours, and I’ll add my insights ⬇️
Evernote is a note-taking app that is available on your mobile devices, your browser, and desktop.
You can easily create to-do lists, take notes, and establish calendars.
Let’s go over their user onboarding process and how they use a guided tour to explain the functions of their product.
As soon as you first log in to the product, a welcome message appears on the screen.
I want to put extra emphasis on the part that says “let’s find out how we can help you in less than a minute”, because it lets users know what exactly they will learn and how long it will take.
It’s important to be transparent to your users, especially during their onboarding:
Remember when we said one size doesn’t fit all?
Evernote is aware of this as well.
They know that each user logs in from a different device and uses the product for different purposes.
Below you can see how they personalize the onboarding process by first asking a few questions, then starting a guided tour of a feature based on the answers that users provide:
They than go over each function in the editor, walking you through the product:
They avoid pushing all guided tours at once, because showing a user all of the product in a single run can quickly become boring.
That’s where an onboarding checklist comes into play.
Evernote doesn’t force users to go through the other guides; rather, it gives them the choice of choosing what they want to create and pushes a guided tour that explains that feature.
Evernote Key Takeaways ✍️
✅ Their messaging in the welcome modal is clear and assuring.
✅ They ask the user what they want to do first, and personalize their experience according to their answer.
✅ They utilize an onboarding checklist to provide users with a sense of progression.
✅ They use recordings inside guided tour steps to showcase features.
Zakeke is a visual product customization tool for e-commerce companies.
It helps merchants and e-commerce owners provide their end-users with customizable products.
They’ve been using UserGuiding to create their guided tours and other onboarding elements, which makes their product much easier to adopt.
Here’s Zakeke’s initial guided product tour, with a GIF on their welcome modal:
What’s great about their welcome tour is that they don’t go over each UI element on each page.
They show their users how to achieve the core value of their product, which is integrating Zakeke with their users’ e-commerce stores.
If the users achieve value, they will be more willing to learn about how they can better use it, but when they start, they just want to solve their problems.
Since they didn’t go through all the features in the initial onboarding tour, they put tooltips and hotspots near their other features, so that curious users can learn more about them if they want to.
Zakeke Key Takeaways ✍️
✅ Their initial product tour goes over the main function of the product, instead of exploring every feature. This way, they reduce TTV.
✅ They utilize hotspots and tooltips for explaining features that were left out of the initial product tour.
CitizenShipper is a shipping marketplace currently available in the US.
They have a platform where shipping service providers or contractors can offer services to people who want to move items or even pets from one location to another.
Since their user base is really diverse, they can’t expect everyone to understand their platform in one go.
So instead they chose to create a guided tour that explains the basic use case of the platform for each persona.
Here’s what their desktop guide looks like:
The same guide is also available to mobile users:
The interactive tour is pretty simple and explanatory, which is why CitizenShipper was able to improve activation rates by 25% with their guided content.
CitizenShipper Key Takeaways ✍️
✅ They keep the onboarding process simple, only teach the users the basic functions of the platform at one go
✅ Their content is available to both mobile web and desktop web users, which covers users from every platform.
To Wrap Up…
A guided tour will help your users understand your product, website, or web app more clearly and quickly.
Adopting a user onboarding tool such as UserGuiding will make life easier when it comes to creating and maintaining guided tours and other onboarding elements.
I hope I was able to help make your website more accessible and digestible for your users!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the #1 software for creating guided tours?
UserGuiding is among the most capable, easy to learn and master, and affordable guided web/product virtual tour software for product, growth, design, and development teams. It is an all-in-one and no-code user onboarding solution that offers much more than just guided tours.
What is a great example of a guided product tour?
Evernote, a note-taking product, provides us with a great example of a guided product tour. They explain each of their features in an interactive way, assisting you as you complete the tasks they’ve assigned you. Check out the article for a visual walkthrough.
Whose responsibility is it to create guided web tours?
Usually, the UX designers map out a journey for user onboarding and determine if it includes guided tours. Should a guided tour be deemed necessary, developers are then also responsible for creating it. But, thanks to no-code tools such as UserGuiding, non-technical staff members can easily design and create guided tours and other onboarding elements.
What is UserGuiding?
UserGuiding is an all-in-one user onboarding solution that can be used to create guided web and product tours. It is a no-code solution so both technical and non-technical team members can utilize it to create engaging automated user onboarding flows.