Without an efficient onboarding process, your product will suffer, no matter how good it may be.

“wide lake over sunset view” by Emma Harper on Unsplash

Onboarding is the first step a user takes when using your product. It’s capturing the user, drawing them in, then getting them hooked into what you do (I’m onboarding you to my article right now).

Without an efficient onboarding process, your product will suffer, no matter how good it may be.

Here are a few ideas and points to work by. It’s not a comprehensive complete list, but instead just some thoughts to reference for your projects.

I will be touching on the onboarding topic in an approach that you have already captured your user.

Don’t flood the user with lots of signup questions

Your aren’t your case study. They don’t want to fill in forms that explain every process of their business before using your product. Stop asking for so much, start asking critical questions and not the size of their business (you’ll get this later, trust me).

You need at a basic level their name, email address, and possibly country.

In some circumstances, you might need their age, such as an age-restricted product, but always take the bare minimum required.

You are trying to get the user through the door quickly. Until they complete your signup they aren’t a user. So, get them through the door with as little information as possible, then begin to gain the rest of it.

Try to pre-fill data

If you know your user is based in the UK from their IP address, and you’re asking for their location, it makes sense to pre-fill it. It saves the user time and makes the process feel efficient. You are already working for the user.

The Shopify address form pre-fills your country.

Don’t mask yourself as a single step sign up when you aren’t

There are too many of these and it’s frustrating. It involves showing your user a small sign up page with little information, then upon submitting, they are asked for more information. It feels, from the users perspective, like they are cheated already. That’s a bad impression, isn’t it?

Instead, be up front. Be honest. Ask the questions you need without masking.

(Note that there are circumstances like buying a physical product that requires shipping that would suggest you may need multi-stage signup. This is OK and actually works better this way as it shifts focus, but this is for another time).

Tell your user what they’re getting

Your user is signing up to your product. Don’t forget to tell them what they are gaining whilst signing up. Try to keep it short, snappy and easy to glance at. A tagline, or a short list works great.

AO.com do this great. They ask you for a little bit of information, just the basics, and let you know what you’re getting. It’s not software, but it engages you without pushing you.

Don’t ask for financial details

If people want your software, they will know to subscribe or pay. If you tie them in with a rolling trial, there’s no guarantee they need your software. Don’t waste your or their time and focus on people that really need your product, not returns.

Do things whilst you run setup

If you have to set up a few things why not ask your user for a few more details whilst you set it up? Letting the user know you’re working on things in the background makes them more likely to give you more information. Keep it brief, and even give them the option to skip it whilst they wait.

Be friendly

You’re trying to build a connection from the off. A vital, strong establishment between you and your user. The first impression is important, so make sure that you’re conveying the attitude that you want to convey.

“We’re here to help you” works a lot better than “Our product is the best on the market”. It conveys a personal feeling to the product, not just a sales pitch.

Give the user the option for assistance

“Hi! Can I help you with anything today?”

For some users they prefer to explore a new system. For others, they like to be guided through it. Always give a new user the option to be guided through the system by either you, or an automated system, but never enforce it. If you enforce it on a user when they don’t want to read it they will skip through it, ignoring everything you said. Instead, give them the option to come back to it later on.

Follow up

So, they’ve used your software for a few days. Follow it up with a friendly message. How’s it going? Is there anything we can help you with?

Following up with friendly help, worded well, helps the user to build trust in your brand and product. It shows them that you are pro-active in helping them resolve their problems and shows that you will be there for them in the future.

This is a crucial step, however, as you need to make sure that you come across the right way.

You don’t need to close the sale in a follow up. If you try too hard with it, you’ll get a bad response from the user who will be less likely to use you. Instead, keep it casual and friendly. It works wonders.

Hi Alex. You’ve been using X for a few days now and I wondered if there are any parts of the system you have questions on? Just let me know and I’ll be happy to help.

“algae covered ground at daytime” by Holger Link on Unsplash

Not all of these points will be relevant in every situation. Sometimes, you have to require more information. Sometimes you must take the users card details. But when you can implement them, do.

As always, let me know any comments you have on the above methods and if you have used them do let me know.



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