User Onboarding UX: How to to Designing for User Experience

To onboard a user is to familiarize them with a product, showcasing its features and benefits while demonstrating its value. This onboarding process colors a user’s perception so significantly that it often determines whether they continue engaging with an offering or abandon it, never looking back.

User onboarding UX (user experience)—or a user’s overall experience while interacting with a product—deeply influences the user journey, often making the difference between success and failure.

Here’s how to design ideal user experiences right from the onboarding steps, with actionable tips and strategies that boost user retention and smooth out the process flow.

Key components of user onboarding UX

To create a great user onboarding experience, companies must first understand the most essential components of user onboarding UX. 

Generally, these comprise:

  • Sign-up process: The user onboarding process begins when the user signs up to use a service or platform. 
  • Orientation and guided tours: In the next step, the onboarding walkthrough must quickly yet comprehensively familiarize new users with the most important features and benefits.
  • Personalization and customization: When onboarding users, it is essential to tailor the experience as much as possible. This requires analyzing user session activity and remembering the little things—like using the person’s first name in welcome messages.
  • Education and training: The logical next step in the user onboarding experience is teaching users how the product works and what they can do with it. Some onboarding processes break up this information to prevent the process from becoming too lengthy or overwhelming.
  • Feedback and support: Supporting users and gaining insights into their behavior allows businesses to identify and fix pain points. Crucially, companies will derive more insight from analyzing sessions and seeing how users interact with the platform or app rather than directly asking them to complete feedback forms.

Enhancing UX with interactive elements

The user onboarding UX can be further enhanced by incorporating interactive elements and tutorials. More dynamic than scanning pop-up messages, any onboarding process that “gamifies” some phases will keep users engaged, improve retention, reduce their time-to-value, and improve user satisfaction.  

Striking a balance between informative and engaging content is key to a frictionless user onboarding flow. Although they’re simple questions, be sure to regularly ask, “Is this too much info to throw at someone all at once?” and, “Will people become bored or disinterested?” regarding every facet.

Personalization and user feedback

Both new and existing users value onboarding experiences that feel like they were designed specifically for them. Tailoring the onboarding experience to individual user needs reduces friction, boosts engagement, and increases the likelihood of long-term satisfaction.

Additionally, implementing feedback loops is always a good idea. By observing how users interact with the product, companies can gather insights, identify UX onboarding patterns, and optimize the user experience in real-time.

Leveraging technology for a seamless UX

Head down to your local bank, and you’ll find tellers, loan officers, and more personnel ready and waiting to assist every customer who enters.

However, unlike filling out forms in person, someone isn’t always present to help users get started with mobile apps and digital technology platforms. If they find themselves confused or completing steps incorrectly, they might not receive the guidance or real-time feedback necessary to adjust.

Maybe customers make mistakes entering data or misread instructions—but at the end of the session, it’s still the mobile app, platform, or service they’ll blame and become frustrated with.

That’s why technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) have become invaluable to onboarding. They streamline and simplify the steps to reduce overall issues, providing the same personalized assistance customers receive while sitting with a company representative.

When looking for a partner that provides these different integrations for your tech stack, it’s imperative to consider how their UX experience will enhance your existing onboarding process. For example, Microblink’s design team won the 2023 iF Design Award in the product category of “innovative data capture for onboarding users.” The streamlined simplicity of BlinkID proved a major factor.

Designing effective onboarding experiences

Designing effective onboarding experiences doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require strategic thinking and tackling the matter one step at a time.

Setting clear goals and objectives

What is the objective of the onboarding experience? Is it to simply introduce users to the product? From account creation to the very end, what should users achieve? Setting clear goals and objectives is the first and most important step.

The more complex a platform, app, or service, the more teams should consider how to break up the onboarding process stages so that the goals and objectives for each don’t become too conflicted or confusing.

Mapping user journeys

Most companies rigorously analyze where their leads and customers come from to increase their numbers and conversion rates. Similarly, user activity conducted during any session on a platform or app needs to be analyzed to understand what users are seeing and navigating to and what was overlooked or ignored.

This makes diagnosing any potential issues or pain points easier and ensures users encounter all the primary features and benefits that demonstrate value. 

Simplifying complex processes

All processes need to be broken down into small, manageable steps. Information should be presented in digestible chunks with concise instructions. Sticking clear and straightforward language is best to avoid any confusion. The simpler, the better.

Leveraging visual hierarchy and design patterns

All content needs to be organized hierarchically. The elements on a user’s screen should be structured to deepen their understanding of the product. The onboarding UX patterns can make a real difference in conveying information and importance to users without additional messages or guidance.

Implementing progressive disclosure

When more complex features are revealed gradually, they don’t seem complex to the user. Progressive disclosure is all about unveiling the product and keeping it digestible without losing the user’s attention. 

A/B testing and iterative improvements

Ultimately, experimentation is the best method for optimizing user onboarding UX. Test different approaches, measure results, and compare. What works best?

Analysis and session-based insights will continually guide process refinement. 

Best practices and common pitfalls

Here are some do’s and don’ts in designing user onboarding UX that business owners need to keep in mind:

  • Keep everything simple and intuitive.
  • Personalize the experience. 
  • Use interactive elements.
  • Utilize visual hierarchy and progressive disclosure.
  • Don’t overload users with information.
  • Don’t overcomplicate anything.
  • Don’t ignore feedback collected via session activities.
  • Don’t neglect testing and optimization.

Examples of excellent onboarding UX

Looking for inspiration on crafting ideal user onboarding will provide examples demonstrating the importance of getting the UX aspect right.

One example to aspire to comes from Canva, the design tool that has grown rapidly to  170 million users. The platform uses various personalization mechanisms to empower and support users through their journey, producing professional-quality designs with intuitive tools.

ID scanning solutions are commonly integrated into mobile apps. However, some organizations don’t have the resources to build every part of these tech stacks. That is why Microblink has developed a browser-based ID scanning solution, which represents a great example of innovative, flexible onboarding UX. 

Measuring success in user onboarding UX

Successful businesses use data to inform their UX design decisions and continually evaluate onboarding effectiveness. Important metrics include completion rate, activation rate, retention rate, time-to-value, customer lifetime value, user satisfaction, and support ticket volume.

But not every company knows where or how to start assessing and refining onboarding through UX principles and technology integrations.

If this sounds complex, that’s because it is. But with Microblink, it doesn’t have to be. Contact us to learn how. 

June 20, 2024

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