User Onboarding: The goals and the good practices

User Onboarding as you can imagine is the fact of introducing your user to your product. It is the key element that will allow your user to get everything right away and be comfortable in using your service.

Its building should be part of your creative process. It can appears that you should build the User Onboarding when your service is already finalized. Actually its creation process brings so much insights which will help you to design your service that you should think about it and build it all along your creative process.

To create the best User Onboarding, severals goals have to be reached. 
Here is some of them (depending of your service more and different goals may apply):

  • Explain what are the core features of the product and how to interact with the less obvious ones.
  • Show how the user will benefit from your service.
  • Collect key information from the user.
  • Turn a first time user into a repeat user.


(but always remember that what works for other apps doesn’t necessary apply to your own)

Restate Service Value

The first page of the User Onboarding should convey the value of the service.
Through visuals and/or text depending of the fame of the service.
The user shouldn’t feel lost at the first screen, this the first step of the first use of the service, make it appealing.

The Right Time to Register

Before asking him to register, a good habit is to give the user a good overview of your product and/or even better, to allow him to test it out.

Also, you must offer the option to register by using a social login, since filling new information and creating a new password is often irritating.
Know your user and you will know which social media he is most likely to use for logging in.


The Right Request at the Right Time

Requesting the user to accept notifications or to access his camera is intrusive.

You have to explain him why you need this approvals and in which aspects it will benefit him.

Delay the request for access to specific features until you really need it.

One smart way to do this is called permission priming:
A message, explaining the user why you need this kind of information/access, displayed before requesting.


Congratulation, Gratification

What makes the user feel good?

  • Complete successfully a task
  • Checking off items from a to do list
  • Get successfully to the end of the User Onboarding process

Congratulate the user at each of these steps will highlight his progress.
You can also confront the user with some low risk items for a successful start.
All these elements will make the process meaningful and will motivate the user to complete his Onboarding and to come back to the application.

Waze, Evernote

Let the User Interact

Walking the user through the key features and interactions of the services by letting him manipulate it by himself is always better than showing him or telling him.


Drive User to Do Meaningful Tasks

The whole point of User Onboarding is to get people to take meaningful actions that lead to value.

The more the user get involved during the User Onboarding the more he is supposed to come back to the application.

The user can get involved by sharing his tastes and/or by starting important tasks that will need to be completed later.


Customize the User Onboarding

With the informations you gathered from the user through the process you can customize the rest of his User Onboarding.

You can get information through services like Gravatar or Facebook, Google, Twitter if he signed in by using them.


Maximize Empty States

Sometimes when starting to use a service the user is confronted to an emptiness since he hasn’t already brought content to the application.

The interface should show this emptiness and give possibilities to resolve this state of thing.

It can push him to take specific actions. (take pictures, add friends…)

Google photos, Instagram, Airbnb

The Never Ending User Onboarding

User Onboarding doesn’t end when the user is successfully signed in the service.

The user will need to be escorted during his further exploration in the app.

One way to do it is by implementing gamification with :

  • tasks to complete
  • progress bar
  • level to unlock…
Linkedin, 1Password, Waze

Other Exploration

The Lark mobile app uses a chatbot to onboard you.
 On your first use it will get your main details. Afterwards at each use, you will be welcomed on this chat with new info about your activity.

You will be able to start a new chat a any time later to get information or ask for help.

It’s a nice User Onboarding solution, depending on your kind of product.


Always remember that User Onboarding is here to help and in a "better world " it would have no reason to exist since your product would be so perfect that the user would get everything right away and would naturally interact with it. Try to tend to this "better world" at each step of your creation process and, when needed, make use of User Onboarding with a 100% efficiency.

I hope you've found what you were looking for and if you're here to bring more, please, do not hesitate to comment.