New Users Matter Too! Designing better onboarding experiences — April 2017 Wrap Up

For our April meetup, we welcomed our first international speaker Krystal Higgins — a Senior UX Designer in San Francisco, who is extremely passionate about onboarding.

New Users Matter Too! Designing better onboarding — Krystal Higgins 2017

First impressions matter. A good first-time user experience establishes a foundation for future engagement, while a bad one can mean abandonment. Kyrstal opened her talk, “New users matter too! Designing better onboarding experiences”, with a question… “What’s the first thing your produce says, or does, to greet a new user?”

Use the “voice of your website” and think of how your website greets your visitors. By drawing the parallel to human-to-human interaction, Krystal asks the question “How can we design better experiences for new users?”

Don’t waste time on passive forms of onboarding

Instead focus on three specific elements of good onboarding:

  • Guided interaction
  • Free samples
  • Personal focus

Guided interaction

Find “just the right amount of guidance” based on the learning and interaction needs of the users instead of having first time visitors “read the manual.”

Krystal showed three different levels of guided interactions:

  1. Consider “inline cues” which are complementary to the experience. For example, empty states.
  2. Give guidance in the context of the user’s path and interactions across a series of screens and based on current needs on complex states.
  3. Use a “playthrough” tutorial mode to introduce a new interaction model or when core or sensitive skills are needed before a full product experience key interactions.

Free samples

When sign up is required before use, 54% of users will leave. Or 88% will lie on the signup form.

Free samples demonstrate the company’s value proposition, establishes trust and sets a positive tone for the new user.

When sign up is required before use, it has a negative effect where 54% of users will leave. Or 88% will lie on the signup form. With a “try before you buy” option, you can get a 60% higher sign up rate for the service.

A few examples of “free samples” are:

  1. Allowing drafts
  2. Limited time limits
  3. Free downloads
  4. Guest checkout

Personal focus

During the onboarding experience, we need to learn about the visitors and what is relevant for them. By bombarding them with all messages at once, we overload and cause them to lose focus.

Two ways to learn about the visitors during onboarding:

  • Explicitly: Learn by requesting
  • Implicitly: Learn by inferring

Use the information learned to make the first experience more focused and relevant. This helps to establish that personal focus.

By paying attention to their behaviour on the website or app, we can explicitly call out how a change will impact their work flow, instead of a generic “what’s new” alert.

In conclusion, Krystal urges us to leverage a mix of these three elements. They all contribute to a shift from a “tell” customers about the experience to a more “interactive” mode where customer can learn and discover for themselves.

You can learn more about these principles by visiting Krystal’s website:

Krystal shares more tips for designing new user experiences on her design blog and maintains a collection of onboarding reviews from websites and apps. In addition to her work teaching teams to teach users, she has designed for the web, mobile, and wearable products at companies like NVIDIA, eBay and Google. In her spare time, she rounds out her product design work with watercolour painting and scuba diving.

Love and shout out to our friend Rebecca Jackson for this amazing sketch note of Krystal’s talk:

Sketch note by Rebecca

More love and thanks to Abla Hamilton for helping put together this article.

Lastly, a big thank you to Envato for being gracious hosts for this meetup. Check out their website and learn more about Envato at: