I am the type of person that gets absolutely livid when I am on a well-designed platform or tool, and my experience gets interrupted.
These interruptions are almost always updates or announcement banners that very often inform about a new feature. And if the design, the copy, or the timing is off, I get so upset that I start spamming the skip button.
Now it just might be me being way too fixated on things and/or my impatience to get things done (tough few years, huh?), but let me tell you:
If it’s bad, then it’s bad.
And today, we are here to talk about how NOT to make it bad.
Even good, so good that people will go, “hey, I want to check that new feature out!”
So, let’s talk about:
- What new feature onboarding is,
- How the new feature onboarding process works,
- Why you need new feature onboarding,
- 7 good (and bad) new feature onboarding examples, and
- How you can create a new feature onboarding flow in a matter of minutes
So without further ado…
What Is New Feature Onboarding?
New feature onboarding is, as the name suggests, a type of onboarding that is designed to introduce users to a newly launched feature on a given software or platform. New feature onboarding can take place in and out of the product, at any point of the user experience, and using various different user onboarding UX elements. While onboarding users to the features at hand, it is important to remember that the user onboarding experience should not disrupt the app experience itself to avoid frustration.
What does the new feature onboarding process look like?
New feature onboarding can be mistaken for different ways of onboarding or simple marketing, but at its core, there are 3 stages of new feature onboarding:
👉 New feature onboarding starts with a new feature announcement (not another word for the term!), which can be an email, blog entry, in-app modal, social media post, and many other things.
👉 Then, if necessary or suitable for all, users are urged to try it out, which is where the new feature training or education comes into play. Using product tours, tooltips, or other onboarding UX patterns, users are properly introduced.
👉 Lastly, users may be asked to answer a new feature survey, which is often the end of onboarding for the specific new feature release. The format, medium, and timing of the survey may vary, but essentially it is always focused on improving the new feature.
So, in short, new feature onboarding is half of the onboarding experience after the initial product onboarding process, where the primary goal is to introduce first-time users to the core functions of the tool.
Now you might be thinking, “huh, is it absolutely necessary then?”
And my answer would be: yes.
It is crucial not only to show users new product features in an organized way but also to do it elegantly and with proper visual design, the right onboarding element, simple steps (if any), and even progress bars.
Let me elaborate.
Why should you onboard users to new features?
New features often equal a better product.
Be it fixing an issue, adding new core features to enhance product experience, or flipping the product with a brand new app and visual design, new feature onboarding is a good thing that deserves to be acknowledged by your users.
Even more importantly, new features mean better ways to utilize your product for the users.
They definitely deserve the attention.
But apart from the obvious reasons, let me give you 3 core benefits of a well-established and well-executed new feature user onboarding flow:
1- Raises feature and product adoption rates
An average user might never even find out about a new feature unless you let them know.
There is quite a simple logic behind the relationship between feature adoption rates and new feature onboarding.
If you do the latter correctly, it will naturally have a positive effect on the former.
👉 Feature adoption rates are connected to product adoption rates, and
👉 The two metrics have a direct impact on churn rate and conversion rate,
a good new feature user onboarding experience is your best friend.
2- Great marketing for an evergreen product
What do a feature onboarding flow or a cool email about a product update and new features say about your product and company?
That you are constantly growing?
That you are looking into ways to improve the product at hand?
That you care that users get to have more and that you care they easily learn how?
All of the above!
Look at how Around does it:
Even just looking at the title, you can see that:
👉 Around is a fun solution; just look at that emoji
👉 Around Updates is a thing that they normally do; that’s why it is the title itself,
👉 You can get value from just reading the title; it gives you an idea of exactly what is new
So, a good new feature user onboarding experience like this also gives a great message to users:
That you are a unique voice in the crowd, you care about what users think, and you are offering constant value through updating your product and your users.
3- Constitutes material for the entire onboarding journey
Lastly, a good new feature user onboarding flow is great material for future use.
After all, a new feature is only a new feature for your current active users.
Any other new user you acquire later on will have to learn about the new feature as a part of the initial product tours.
Creating a good one from the start can only benefit you in the future.
These are the core reasons any digital product, and especially SaaS businesses, should be creating an efficient onboarding experience for their new features.
But if you find taking in all this information meaningless, let me visualize it for you with a few examples.
7 Good (And Not So Good) New Feature Onboarding Examples to Get You Started
You probably know how I feel about a poor new feature experience from the intro of this article.
But I am also an instant fan if I have a positive experience.
So, from announcement to training to survey and more, here are 7 new feature user onboarding examples that I loved and didn’t love as much:
1- New Feature Email Announcement: Notion
Notion’s email product updates are a great example of the starting stage of the new feature onboarding process, new feature announcements.
There are many reasons why the product feature announcement of Notion are always good for the overall new feature onboarding process:
✅ The title teases the updates, which delivers immediate value while also encouraging to learn more,
✅ The email is personalized, using the user’s first name at the very start,
✅ Good copy helps users see this as not a brag post but actually good content to read,
✅ Visuals help understand updates better,
✅ There is a button to actually learn more for interested users
Overall, Notion’s new feature onboarding starts off on the right foot with its announcement email.
2- In-app mobile announcement: Instagram
Instagram is known for its constant updates, some of which offer quite a poor design while some others are really sticky, for example, the reels feature.
Though more often than not, Instagram prefers using intrusive modals on the entire screen when introducing new features – because they are quite short both in terms of copy and steps – we can’t really say that they are doing a bad job.
Especially because Instagram is a mobile app, we can even say that it is doing quite a good job as the onboarding UX elements are rather limited on mobile.
3- In-app new feature education: Moodle
The mobile app for Moodle, a learning platform for universities and other courses, normally keeps its onboarding to a minimum.
Still, they seem to have adopted a more onboarding-friendly approach with their new update:
After introducing a more sophisticated user interface, Moodle shows the users its new features – or rather UI elements – using a 3-step tooltip flow. Though there is no progress indicator, we can still say it’s alright since the number of steps is below average, and the copy is as short as it gets.
Bad flow design, good results.
4- On-spot New Feature Training: ClickUp
Aside from its frequent email updates from a dedicated email address, ClickUp also uses product tours and interactive walkthroughs to enhance new feature user journeys and overall product experience.
While the product walkthrough at hand doesn’t cover the entire process of the new feature user experience, we can see that a contextual onboarding experience is underway.
Just the fact that it is contextual wins ClickUp good product experience points and enhances the chances of higher efficiency in teaching users the new feature.
5- Announcement + Education: TikTok
TikTok is among the apps that come up with something else quite often. Their new auto-generated captions feature not only made the app more accessible but also showed that their onboarding game is not half bad.
6- Immediate Survey: Canva
Canva is a high performer when it comes to contextual onboarding experiences, interactive walkthroughs, and user onboarding processes with great visual design.
The design platform doesn’t disappoint with its user feedback modal window either.
After the users complete a design using new features on its mobile application, Canva prompts a survey modal asking how the user felt during the design process.
7- Announcement + Education + Feedback: Frase
Bringing together the new update announcement, education, and user feedback under one modal window can be risky, but Frase seems to have nailed it.
Frase is a fairly new tool that’s constantly getting better. And as such, they come up with lots and lots of new features and improvements.
The latest update from Frase was a tiny feature addition, shown on a big modal when users log in. The modal talks about the new feature and goes on to educate the users about it.
Normally, this is not a very optimal way of sharing the news as it is pretty intrusive.
But there is a saving grace to it.
Frase puts a teeny tiny feedback section to all its update modals to make sure users feel heard and cared for. And if you are to use a modal for new feature onboarding, this is definitely the best element you can add to it to decrease friction.
Well played, Frase. Well played.
Now that you are familiar with how new feature onboarding works let me take you to the practice zone.
How to Onboard Users to New Features in 3 Steps
You know now how feature onboarding works.
But do you know how to create one?
Or maybe you’re thinking, “that’s the developers job!”
It certainly is.
If you want to keep it in-house, use the precious time of your product teams’ on creating and maintaining it and maybe even having to hire a new developer for the job.
Or you could go no-code with a no-code onboarding tool like UserGuiding.
Let me show you how you can create a functioning in-app new feature onboarding flow using nothing but UserGuiding in under 5 minutes.
1- Create your guide
To start with your new feature onboarding flow, you need to first go to UserGuiding Panel and the Guides page. There, you can create a new guide by clicking the “+ New Guide” button.
After naming your guide and entering your website’s URL, you will be directed to the URL to start editing.
In this case, let’s use Frase’s UI.
2- Add your steps & customize
Once we are at the Frase document I entered as the URL, we can start by clicking the “+ Step” button.
I choose a simple tooltip not to disrupt my hypothetical users’ experience too much.
After picking the area my tooltip will be pointing at, – the actual new feature of Frase, split view – I edit the tooltip. I just changed some of the text properties; I can also change the design and the color, as well as other triggers and mechanisms.
Let’s add one more tooltip!
I repeat the same process but I pick a different area to direct to now.
Once I save my process, and my tooltips are ready, I can preview it.
3- Configure & Publish
Now that I am done with my mini new feature onboarding, I go back to the panel, where I will find my latest guide on the Guides page. I click on my guide and then click on settings to configure certain settings like auto-triggering and container code.
Once I am done, all that’s left is to turn the guide to active and publish changes.
While there are many other details and customization options, as you can see, it is possible to create a working new feature guide with UserGuiding.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. I say you try it for yourself.
To Wrap Up…
New Feature Onboarding can easily fade into the background. Especially if it’s not designed very well and we find ourselves skipping it.
But once you figure out how to create the new feature onboarding flows that will make users go, “let me give this a try!” you know you got it right.
Here’s to hoping you know how to get it right 😎
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Feature Onboarding so crucial?
New feature onboarding can prove to be a great ally to your growth strategy as it is a direct contributor to feature and product adoption, which in turn contributes to retention rates and customer loyalty.
How can you improve Feature Onboarding?
To improve feature onboarding, it is necessary to understand your customers’ desires and frustrations. Once you figure this out, it is on to actually creating an onboarding flow which you can do the hard way with your developers or the easy way using a no-code tool.