Your user onboarding process might be more influential than you think.
It also makes users 21% more likely to upgrade from free to paid services.
When user onboarding flows have such a direct impact on the user journey, it is not the wisest decision to overlook it.
So today, to really know what a good onboarding experience looks like, we will be looking at:
- What a user onboarding experience is,
- What makes a user onboarding experience good, and
- The top examples of great onboarding experiences
Let’s start with a definition:
What is a user onboarding experience?
A user onboarding experience is any and every user experience element in a digital product or website dedicated to helping first-time users or long-term users understand the product and its core features, familiarize themselves with it, and, most importantly, see the value in using it. User onboarding experiences or onboarding UX elements might include product tours, interactive walkthroughs, tooltips, hotspots, and user onboarding checklists, while a signup process and email onboarding can also be considered a user onboarding experience.
Of course, user onboarding experiences are a lot more than what I can say in one paragraph.
So, if you’d like to check out the best user onboarding experiences guide, check out our definitive guide to user onboarding.
Now, let’s continue with a very important question:
What is it that makes the best user onboarding experiences out there the best onboarding experiences?
What Makes A User Onboarding Good?
Let me be clear about one thing:
What constitutes good user onboarding depends on the product, the user, and what need they are fulfilling with the product.
For example, you could imagine how distinct onboarding UX examples can get for a banking app and an online game. Similarly, you would notice a difference in the onboarding experience of products targeted at specific sector experts and at the general audience.
According to Samuel Hulick of UserOnboard, good onboarding experiences should be:
- User-centric 🧑💻– best user onboarding experiences are focused on teaching the user what they need to know to get started with the product and not just be concerned about showing off the product.
- Action-oriented ⛹️♀️ – best user onboarding experiences should get users completing actions as quickly as possible, rather than spending a lot of time showing them how they will do it when they finally get to work with the product.
- Informed 💡– best user onboarding experiences should focus on getting the user to gain value from the product as soon as possible, as this is and should be the goal of user onboarding for every product.
- Constantly Evolving 📈– just as product features are monitored to ensure that they are doing their job, tweaked, and changed to do it better, the best onboarding experiences also need this kind of attention.
- Holistic ⭕️– best onboarding experiences should not happen in one go the first time the user starts using the product; it is something that needs to be constantly present and available, leveraged to introduce changes, new product features, and updates.
So overall, a great onboarding experience needs to complete one, more, or all of the following tasks:
✅ Show users the core benefits of the product and how to achieve them,
✅ Offer personalized experiences for each user persona in-app and outside of the product, e.g., via email,
✅ Show users the core functionalities of the product and how to use them,
✅ Focus on getting users to start performing key actions and using the product as quickly as possible with the right onboarding content,
✅ Support account setup and registration through self-service options like app guides and knowledge bases, as well as access to a customer support assistant
And to do all that, you just might need a reliable solution for the best onboarding experience out there.
Let me put you on:
UserGuiding: Better User Onboarding Experiences with Less Effort 🌟
For the last 9 months, I’ve developed a new hobby.
It just might be because I like writing about UX and the great onboarding experiences I come across, but I’ve been collecting the best onboarding UX examples from every software and mobile app I use.
In no time, I was obsessed with it; I even downloaded an app on my phone to screen-record user onboarding examples.
Then I screen-recorded the onboarding UX from the screen recording app.
But finally, after 9 months, I now know what great onboarding experiences should look like. And I know that, especially for B2B businesses, a no-code user onboarding tool is a must.
So, meet UserGuiding.
UserGuiding is a no-code user onboarding software designed to help users create seamless contextual onboarding experiences with ease and for an affordable price.
Among Userguiding’s key features are:
✅ Interactive guides, product tours, walkthroughs,
✅ Tooltips, hotspots, in-app experiences,
✅ User onboarding checklists,
✅ In-app knowledge bases (resource centers),
✅ NPS surveys, and more
And all that with the power of in-depth analytics, user segmentation and targeting, and high customization.
Now that you know what a great onboarding experience looks like and how you can achieve one with the right tool, let’s take a look at some of the best user onboarding examples from tools you use every day.
Let’s dive right in 👇
Top 12 Best User Onboarding Experiences
As we have already said, what your user onboarding should look like depends on the product and your user base and should be designed just as carefully as the product itself.
There is no such thing as a one size fits all solution.
But you can certainly gain some insights and tips from looking at best practices. To me, the best user onboarding examples I’ve seen recently are from:
- Grove HR
GhostwriterAI is an AI-based content marketing platform for brands and influencers.
They also happen to be a UserGuiding customer, and unsurprisingly, their onboarding experience turned out to be one of the best product onboarding examples I’ve seen in a while.
What makes GhostwriterAI’s user onboarding experience so good is that even though it has many features that have different functions, it covers all of them.
One feature at a time.
When you first log in to the platform, you find yourself in the Profiler tool, which acts as a base for all other features, so it’s probably the best feature to start with.
Then, a guide made in UserGuiding welcomes you to the Profiler tool, showing you the basic elements and the core value of the tool.
The guide shows you the ins and outs of the profiler tool. Then, you are given space to try out this feature or move on to another one.
Here’s what happens when you click “Content Curator” after finishing the first guide.
After a short loading screen, a guide pops up and welcomes you to the Content Curator tool.
It also shows you around this specific feature and what value you will get from it.
These small guides exist for all the features; they demonstrate the core functions of the features, then leave you to explore by yourself.
But what if it was one big walkthrough?
If there was one big onboarding experience for all the features of GhostwriterAI, it could perhaps last for an hour if it showed everything small guides did. What’s worse is, to make it shorter, they would have to cut from certain parts so it would lose value.
But by dividing the user onboarding into digestible parts, GhostwriterAI has created the perfect user onboarding experience for its users.
2- Grove HR
Did you know that user onboarding should be a continuous process that never really ends?
This doesn’t mean that users will go through your user onboarding experience again and again, nor will they finish the whole onboarding process in years.
It basically means that as long as your users use your product, you need to be there for them with helpful content.
Grove HR, an HR management solution, does this pretty well.
They’ve combined their interactive content with educational videos and included help center articles to ensure they’re there for the user, no matter what.
You’re first greeted with the initial product tour / welcome flow, which includes an educational video about the product and then proceeds to ask you a few questions to provide you with more personalized content.
Here’s how it looks:
Then, they use UserGuiding’s Resource Centers to provide the user with an onboarding checklist. This checklist is full of interactive guides that are triggered with a click.
Here’s how that looks:
Once they complete this checklist, the user can always go back to view specific guides from it since the resource center is always available on the right side of the screen.
But that’s not the only function of this resource center 👀
They’ve also integrated their knowledge base into this resource center using UserGuiding to enable their users to browse and read their knowledge base without leaving the product.
Sounds simple, right?
Looks simple too:
Through all these elements (and many others that I couldn’t actually fit here; bravo Grove HR!), they’ve created a continuous user onboarding process that helps users at every stage of the journey.
Notice how the first 2 products on this list exclusively used one platform, to make things sound so easy and simple?
Well, it’s because they BECOME easy and simple, with UserGuiding.
UserGuiding is a user onboarding software that many companies use to create experiences as Ghostwriter or Grove HR did. And since it is a no-code product, anyone in a company can utilize it for growth.
But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself:
When it comes to the best products, especially the ones that are consumed by millions on a daily basis, users should need relatively little instruction to figure out how it actually works.
Controls, menus, and functions should be designed to meet user expectations. The menu icon should look familiar and in an expected place. Double tapping and swiping should have the effect that the user expects. Relying on known actions significantly reduces the learning curve for users.
But for many products, the biggest challenge is actually getting users to sign up and start paying.
This is something that Netflix has mastered with their one-month free trial that gets users into the product risk-free and loving it enough to start paying.
They deliver this expertly with a simple sign-up screen that explains exactly what they are getting themselves into. A one-month free trial and the ongoing cost of the subscription after that date. This is complemented by a strong call to action (CTA), which is displayed as “Start Your Free Month.”
Netflix does then require an email, password, and payment details, but they keep these screens as simple as possible, not taking the opportunity to ask for any unnecessary information for their records.
Finish setting up your account:
You select a plan:
Setting up your payment:
Netflix then asks for a few preferences so that it can start feeding users relevant content immediately. But once you are inside Netflix, there is very little information provided about how to browse and watch. And this is because it is largely unnecessary, as the product is designed to be intuitive.
Here you choose what content you like so that you can get related recommendations:
You wait for your personalization to process:
And you are on the Home page of Netflix.
What’s great from this point onward is that you don’t need further guidance because the product is extremely simple:
And that, folks, is how you create a great onboarding experience with a simple signup process and a product so easy it does the onboarding itself.
When onboarding users through app guides in a product experience, you don’t necessarily want to show the user what to do.
You want to get them to actually do it.
And Slack is one of the products on the market that manages to deliver this onboarding experience fairly seamlessly.
When the user enters the messaging app, they immediately start exchanging messages with the Slackbot. The bot provides the user with information about how to use the platform and also has them physically doing it while they interact with the bot.
The bot is ideal for using more than just a one-off.
When Slack makes updates or changes, they can use the bot again to bring these to the attention of the user. It also pops up on occasion to remind users of old functionality that they haven’t yet taken advantage of.
Slack combines this with microscopy and empty states showing the user the type of content that they should enter into certain workboxes, and tool pop-ups appear very occasionally to orient and inform the user.
Slack also uses tooltips and modals where necessary to direct users to new features or functionalities they haven’t tried yet.
With the wide range of onboarding UX elements they use, you can tell that Slack knows what it’s doing.
A long signup process is a go-to user frustration source.
The amount of data required to access a product before the user even really knows if the product will solve their problem can mean that they will simply abandon the process.
Duolingo jumps this hurdle by pushing the registration form back to the final moment.
Here’s how Duolingo shows the value of its app before signing up, starting with a great core value proposition with a strong CTA at the start of its signup flow:
Rather than jumping straight into registration or making it a mandatory step of the product journey, they start by showing the user the value of the app by taking them through a class.
As a result, users know what to expect from the app before they give their personal details.
Users can actually access quite a lot of the app’s functionality without registration but are regularly reminded of the additional functionality and superior experience they will gain if they register:
When registration is required upfront, especially if it requires additional steps such as email confirmation, it is a good idea to try and make this as smooth as possible.
Duolingo also makes good use of tooltips to show functionalities and progress bars to let users know how far they are through each class and also how far they are through the registration process.
This makes the user perceive the process as smoother and more manageable, as it has a set ending rather than being open-ended and as there are no product tours that the users innately know will take a long time.
Nate Munger of Clearbit nicely summarizes one of the biggest challenges facing the onboarding experience designers:
“Some new users expect you to welcome them and show them around the place while others prefer you to get out of their way and soon as possible and let them figure things out for themselves. The problem is that… you’re going to have to successfully onboard customers from across this spectrum.”
The online design platform Canva has done a good job of tackling the challenge.
They ask the user what they plan to use the platform for and then take them to a tutorial focused on what they actually want to do, rather than taking them through everything.
Not only does this give each user a better onboarding experience, but it also helps the user anticipate a better onboarding experience. When the users know that the experience will be tailored to their particular needs, they are more likely to be open and receptive to the onboarding experience.
Canva doesn’t necessarily use a product tour or a walkthrough to start onboarding users. Instead, with the advantage of its simple UI design, it offers a contextual onboarding experience with tooltips and slideout modals inside specific features:
Canva offers possibly one of the most dedicated contextual onboarding experiences out there, and because its UI isn’t too complicated, the users are not frustrated by this.
Asana is known as one of the powerhouses of project management software, and of course, when you have a big name, it is not a matter of if but how you onboard your users.
Of course, Asana does not let us down.
In fact, its user onboarding experience is one of the most complete onboarding examples, and that is why it made it to the list.
With a cool signup flow, different types of onboarding UX patterns and practices like congratulatory animations, and a unique user checklist experience, Asana’s is an amazing onboarding example.
Let’s have a closer look, starting with the signup flow:
With short and well-formatted copy and cool visuals in the form of gifs, Asana’s signup flow is quite engaging and fun to go through.
Asana’s user onboarding checklist consists of a mere 5 steps, and upon finishing the entire thing, users get a congratulations message accompanied by an animation of rainbows and unicorns all across the screen.
When onboarding users to specific features, Asana uses modals made up of 3 steps that users can navigate themselves, again featuring fun little gifs showing how each part of the feature works in practice:
Though overall, everything Asana does is expected of a normal user onboarding experience, what they do is that they add a tiny little twist with modals where we would expect tooltips and interactivity to the checklist itself or the unicorn animations.
Asana keeps it unique and shows us that you don’t need to get out of your brand voice and image to onboard users the right way.
Bubble is a web app builder, and it is quite an advanced one at that.
But they also like to keep it simple and old school when it comes to onboarding users. Take it from me; you can still make it work with the most basic onboarding UX elements like tooltips and modals.
When users first sign up and get redirected to work on their first project, Bubble asks a few questions in a modal window to make sure to segment the users according to their specific needs:
Once the users are successfully segmented, they get to pick some settings on the sidebar called new application assistant in the editing screen:
After that, users are prompted with a few tooltips to help them understand what tool is where and how they can use them:
Though Bubble makes good use of in-app onboarding patterns, its main education content is in the crash course they offer to all users.
Still, Bubble’s use of user onboarding UX patterns goes to show that even tools with complex systems and mechanisms can require a bit of in-app onboarding.
Genially is the epitome of great user onboarding examples. Their entire onboarding process, as well as the general UX product journey of the platform, is beautiful in terms of visual design and practical use.
The signup process is a very simple one with 3 steps, and it looks a little something like this:
After signing up, users can choose to take a tour from the menu bar on the top of the screen or skip this process altogether. In any case, there are some contextual onboarding up ahead!
The main panel tour is a simple, short one with 4 steps and background dimming for maximum focus (psst, wanna know what tool they used to make it look like that?)
The users are also accompanied by a user onboarding checklist with, again, 4 steps and contextual onboarding guides.
In different parts of the platform, users can come across tooltips and hotspots showing them a new feature or a quick tip:
While there are many other types of onboarding UX inside Genially, just the few user onboarding examples above can show you just how Genially onboards its users: with a great user onboarding experience as well as overall UX!
You might not have heard it or used it, but Udemy has a really cool mobile app, and to bring some diversity to our user onboarding examples, let’s take a look at how Udemiy does user onboarding on its app.
Udemy does not use a special signup flow or a product tour for first-time users since the app is an extremely easy-to-navigate one.
Instead, for important app requirements like push notifications, it uses popup modals and slideout modals with fun little illıustrations and super short copy:
These onboarding UX patterns come in handy for when Udemy wants to promote as well; here’s how they promote different courses:
Finally, Udemy’s mobile app takes user feedback very seriously, and it is quite easy to see through its use of onboarding UX patterns for feedback and surveys.
Udemy’s mobile app proves that step-by-step guides or walkthroughs aren’t always necessary for all kinds of tools and that when the medium changes, so can the onboarding style.
Though it is not really a perfect onboarding example, it sure is a good window into a more minimalistic user onboarding experience.
HubSpot’s onboarding UX is a famous one, if not as famous as the platform itself.
What makes this user onboarding experience such a great one is the fact that although HubSpot is not the easiest tool to learn, the contextual guides and other onboarding elements help users learn at their own pace.
HubSpot is very aware of the best practices of onboarding as well; they make use of progress bars, user checklists, and separate guides for each feature.
Here’s how the onboarding checklist looks:
When a first-time user starts using HubSpot, they are prompted with a user checklist with a couple of tasks that really bring out HubSpot’s core value:
There are also smaller user checklists along the way for long-term users:
Tooltips and contextual product tours are defining of HubSpot, each coming with a skip option:
HubSpot also nails new feature onboarding, with short new feature tours highlighting the important content while dimming the background and, of course, with a skip tour button:
HubSpot is quite a big tool that unravels all its onboarding elements in a time period spread across months; seeing so many different onboarding UX patterns as a first-time user makes it evident that HubSpot takes onboarding seriously.
Our last user onboarding example, Grammarly, is a master of demo environment onboarding.
The signup flow for Grammarly isn’t necessarily very defined, but after the signup, Grammarly takes users to a demo where they can take a quick tour and try out different core functions of Grammarly.
In the demo window, users are prompted with a tour modal with a “start a quick tour button” and a “skip the tour button” that looks like this:
Once the user starts the tour, they start exploring a demo page filled with hotspots, tooltips, and other onboarding UX elements:
Grammarly uses different modals and tooltips on different apps it has access to in order to make sure users are getting the most out of the grammar solution:
Since Grammarly is often used as an extension rather than in its very own platform, its onboarding throughout the user journey is truly unique. The supposedly in-app onbıarding elements often take place outside of the platform due to the tool’s nature.
Still, the onboarding experience is a great one and a good example of how to onboard users even when your product’s style is naturally opposed to it.
Why Focus On Onboarding
Perfecting the onboarding experience isn’t just about getting users set up on the product, it is getting them back and using it again and again.
The onboarding experience has one of the most significant impacts on the overall user experience and is a major factor in the user determining if they want to return, or are happy to leave it.
It is important to always monitor the onboarding experience to ensure that it is working in the desired way. It is usually a sure sign that you are having onboarding issues if you see a steep drop off in users after sign-up, low conversion from free to paid features, and significant churn and non-renewals.
Ideally, the best onboarding experiences get the user to value as quickly as possible.
This requires knowing what represents value to the user. For example, is the value moment for an Instagram user seeing their feed, completing a post, or having someone else like their post? This is why good user onboarding always starts with good user research.
Perhaps finding your product’s Aha moment can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
⛵️ What is User Onboarding?
User onboarding is where you show the value you offer to your new users and try to get them to their “Aha!” moments by explaining the specifics and how-tos of your product.
🚀 What makes a User Onboarding good?
A great user onboarding is always user-centric, interactive, and quick to show the functionalities of the product.
❓ Why is User Onboarding important?
Onboarding is your first chance to make a great impression, which can end up in higher retention and conversion rates.