Stonly is a decent platform for user and employee education and/or creating knowledge bases that users can engage with.
But is it really a user onboarding solution with interactive elements?
From my point of view, it’s not.
Compared to the mainstream 3rd party user onboarding platforms such as WalkMe, Appcues, and UserGuiding offers, modals and guides Stonly provide users with are not enough for a complete user onboarding.
I’ll talk about this in a bit.
In this article, I go over why Stonly is not the perfect user onboarding solution for you and 6 alternatives that might be a better fit.
Or let’s start by talking about what Stonly is:
What is Stonly used for?
Stonly is a self-serve support and user education platform that offers engaging and (not so) interactive guides for software products.
It especially started generating more attention after the series A investment of $22M it received in January 2022. It offers a fairly basic solution to educate users and take some lift off the shoulders of the customer support team on a small budget, but it might not be giving you the best bang for your buck.
With Stonly, you can create Help Centers and Knowledge Bases that are much more engaging compared to the traditional ones.
Stonly onboarding offers step-by-step instructional guides that you can add images inside to better illustrate your topic, and the content of these step guides can be optimized based on end-user segment and preferences.
These step interactive guides can also be triggered through tooltips and hotspots for a more hands-on experience.
Of course, you can use these guides to create product tours, that show your users how different UI elements and core functions of your product work. Although it doesn’t actually have the most interactive content, it can be a good choice for small to medium-sized businesses that would prefer free/affordable products.
But the rest of users should be aware of the expensive plans and hidden costs within the product.
Stonly has 4 pricing tiers at the moment:
- Basic(Free Forever) Plan: Free forever with 1000 monthly guide views and 5 guides, with advertisements from Stonly.
- Starter Plan: $61/month with 2500 monthly guide views, 30 guides, and access to core features.
- Business Plan: $124/month with 4000 monthly guide views, unlimited guides, and additional VIP features.
- Custom Enterprise Plans: Additional Enterprise features with increased usage limits, but you need to contact Stonly’s sales team for a custom quote.
“The customer service of the company is very responsive. I like the UI of the platform and its solution.”
“I don’t think Stonly is the best tool for its purpose, especially if you need something easy and fast to set up”
Why you need an alternative to Stonly
Because you can start free, the starting prices are low, and if you’re more into the customer support/knowledge base functions, it’s a great solution for you. You can create some sort of rich tutorials that can be engaging.
Why not Stonly?
Because, well, here are a few reasons:
It requires technical knowledge/coding 🔧
If you want to integrate Stonly into your UI elements, and of course implement Stonly’s knowledge base and help center into your platform, you’ll definitely need a bunch of developer hours to get it done.
This can be especially challenging for businesses that are actually used to the no-code approach and don’t have much developer time.
Limited Customization 🎨
Your customization options are very limited with Stonly.
After a while, a lot of the guides look very similar to each other, and since you’re limited to a single element, you can mix things up like you can in other user onboarding products like UserGuiding.
Not an actual user onboarding solution 🤔
User onboarding can’t be turned into an effective UX flow without in-app messages, in-app assistance, and user onboarding checklists.
Unfortunately, Stonly lacks all of these. 😥
Therefore, from my perspective, Stonly lacks the key features of almost every other user onboarding solutions.
You can’t gamify the user onboarding experience, which will the flow less engaging than those you can create with other tools.
No real interactive elements 👆
Before giving Stonly a try, I was hyped about the idea of “Interactive Knowledge Bases”.
However, it looks like most of the interactivity, in this case, is pressing the “Next” button on the guide steps after reading a bunch of text and looking at a screenshot.
The real interactivity to me is the one you can get with other user onboarding tools (scroll a bit down to UserGuiding section to see one in action).
Is Stonly a much much better alternative to traditional boring resource centers and knowledge bases?
Could it be even better and more engaging?
Let’s take a look at the top alternatives to Stonly:
Top Alternatives to Stonly
- Intercom Product Tours
Let’s take a look at 6 paid and free Stonly alternatives that can help make your user onboarding much more engaging, starting with the simplest and the best for value one:
#1 Stonly vs UserGuiding – an All-in-one Digital Product Adoption Solution for User Onboarding
UserGuiding is an all-in-one customer onboarding software that you can use to educate users and onboard customers without coding.
The main difference between UserGuiding and Stonly is that UserGuiding offers interactive step-by-step elements that assist users as they complete certain tasks, instead of educating them through a slideshow that’s displayed over your product.
With UserGuiding, you can create:
- In-app interactive guides, like the one above, to increase customer engagement from the get-go,
- User onboarding checklists that offer a sense of gamification,
- Tooltips and hotspots that can be used to highlight features and inform users,
- Self-help resource centers where you can unify your UserGuiding content, knowledge base articles, and help-center documents.
Also, you can use UserGuiding’s Segments feature to segment different user groups and target them with personalized and relevant content.
And all of this is topped with an Analytics feature that helps you track the performance of your creations.
UserGuiding also provides built-in NPS and customer satisfaction surveys so that you can collect and store all the data you need in one tool.
UserGuiding has a free trial and 3 relatively affordable paid plans:
- 14-day free trial (no credit card required)
- Basic Plan: $69/month when billed annually for up to 2500 MAU
- Professional Plan: $299/month when billed annually for up to 20000 MAU with unlimited guides
- Custom Quotation Available for Larger Companies
“We were on the brink of building an in-house solution for onboarding when we met UserGuiding. It allowed us to design a beautiful product walkthrough within minutes, without a single line of code. “
“Mobile SDK was definitely one of the things that I was searching for, hopefully, it becomes available soon.“
UserGuiding vs Stonly
|On-Screen Slide Modals||✅||✅|
|In-App Resource Centers||✅||✅|
|Knowledge Base Feature Integration||✅||✅|
|Avg. Deployment Time||≈ 2-3 Days||15 Minutes|
|Learning Curve||😟 Steep||🙂 Smooth|
Interactive – users can actually use the product as they go through the step-by-step instructions.
UserGuiding also offers free migration services for your in-app content created using other software to minimize your switching costs.
Schedule a demo with one of our experts or start your free trial now:
#2 Stonly vs Appcues – Capable User Onboarding Solution with Powerful Features
Appcues is the company that started the interactive user onboarding platform category, so they get their mention on top of this list.
You can create interactive walkthroughs, hotspots and tooltips, checklists, and a few other interactive elements that can be customized to fit your needs and are highly capable.
They actually are the ones invented user onboarding checklists and tooltips!
The only problem is, well the only two problems actually, are that Appcues is a bit pricey compared to UserGuiding (2.5X more expensive) and Stonly (4X more expensive); and it requires technical knowledge to fully integrate with your product.
Appcues has 3 pricing plans:
- The Essentials Package starts at $249/month when billed annually with 2500 MAU.
- The Growth Package starts at $879/month when billed annually, again at 2500 MAU.
- The Enterprise Package doesn’t have a set pricing, you need to get a custom quotation.
“The main benefit of Appcues is its flexibility. You can embed custom code into tooltips to change their appearance, run scripts, embed an iframe, or insert buttons that do custom actions.”
“Beware of pricing hikes. They sent an email announcement an almost 300% increase from $129/mo to $299/mo. I get pricing adjustments but this is not a reasonable pricing and just seems plain shady.”
#3 Stonly vs Pendo – User Behavior and Analytics + User Onboarding
Pendo is a user experience management platform that helps you understand users with analytics and feedback and develop user onboarding experiences with the insights.
Pendo is a game changing platform for analytics/user behavior/feedback at it’s core. But that’s the reason many people choose it:
Because they want their processes to be unified.
Pendo’s user onboarding content is not that bad, it requires a bit of technicality to use and set-up, but overall what you can do with Pendo is way better than traditional educational material for software.
I’ll suggest you to use Pendo if you’re willing to utilize its powerful analytics too!
Pendo has a free plan with up to 1000 MAU and some basic features.
Their paid plans don’t have a fixed pricing, so you’ll have to contact Pendo to get a quotation.
“I like being able to add pop-up guides to our product with relative ease (compared to coding it into your product) to announce new features and prompt users for feedback.”
“I dislike many of the quirks encountered when setting up guides. Between the code editor and interface editor it got very frustrating at times trying to get a guide to appear and behave correctly.”
#4 Stonly vs Intercom – Email Onboarding & Support with Step-By-Step Tours
Intercom is a customer experience management software used by the majority of software businesses across the world.
As we all know, their initial features are email support and live chat, support and customer service focused features.
But with the add-ons that act similar to video game DLCs, you can add additional content to your Intercom features; the most recent one being the Product Tours.
Although using affordable products with more features such as UserGuiding sounds much better for product tours, you might choose Intercom for the sake of unifying everyone that deals with Customer Experience.
As I’ve said, their product tours of Intercom Product Tours are simple at its best and all the other key features that originally would improve engagement such as checklists and hotspots are not present in Intercom’s user onboarding solution.
Of course, the choice is yours.
Intercom’s Product Tours Add-on can only be used as an addition to the core subscription, which would cost around:
- Start Plan: $59/month for Intercom subscription (1 seat) plus $199/month for Product Tours add-on = $258/month Total
- Grow Plan: $119/month for Intercom subscription (5 seats) plus $199/month for Product Tours add-on = $318/month Total
- Accelerate Plan: $499/month for Intercom subscription (10 seats) plus $199/month for Product Tours add-on = $698/month Total
- Scale Plan: $999/month for Intercom subscription (10 seats) plus $199/month for Product Tours add-on = $1118/month Total
“It solves a big problem for us! Super easy, intuitive setup. If you are using the Intercom’s main product then having the Product Tours would be complimentary.”
“Limited analytics and their onboarding features are for basic use ases. If you want something more detailed this product will not be for you.”
#5 Stonly vs Pageguide.js – Free & Open-source User Onboarding
How is this better than Stonly?
Do your website or product only consist of a few stand-alone pages or single-page features?
If so, pageguide.js is your jam.
It helps you create simple product tours, and you don’t have to pay anything at all; except for a few days of developer time.
#6 Stonly vs Shepherd.js – Another Free & Open-source User Onboarding
Compared to Pageguide.js, Shepherd is more customizable, and a few additional cool features that can drastically improve the UX.
If you’re looking for better looking, a bit more capable, but still free product tours that you can use to onboard users to single-page applications, Shepherd.js should be your go-to.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should use Stonly?
Stonly is a great user onboarding software for HR and customer service departments of companies of any size, due to it’s convenient price and ease of use.
How much does Stonly cost?
Stonly has a free-forever plan for 5 guides and 1000 MAU, and their next plan starts at $49/month with 30 guides and access to other features.
What are the top alternatives to Stonly?
There are 6 alternatives that can offer a similar or better experience and value to Stonly’s, which are: UserGuiding, Appcues, Pendo, Intercom, Pageguide.js, and Shepherd.js.
When was Stonly founded?
The customer education software Stonly was founded in 2018 in Paris, France; by Alexis Fogel and Krzysztof Dąbrowski. In early 2022, the recently-founded business received a $22M Series A investment.
What is an interactive guide?
An interactive guide is a type of product walkthrough that assists your users as they complete a task, like UserGuiding’s product tours. Stonly’s guides can’t be considered “interactive”, since the users’ options are very limited during the slides.