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Top 5 Onboarding Mistakes at Ducalis.io

Great article about onboarding mistakes by product-led-growth expert Kyle Poyar. All to the point again, here is my retrospective on our mistakes while improving Ducalis.io’s onboarding experience through Kyle’s list of mistakes.

40% is a Good PQL Rate for the first day

“At the average SaaS company, 40–60%+ of new users never return to the product on a second day.” As a result, we need to reach 40% of Product-Qualified-Leads (PQL) on the user’s first day from 8.5% now:

Ducalis.io conversion rates

User thoughts

Yesterday, I received the following feedback from another user who abandoned our product:

I learned about the RICE prioritization method from a mentor and wanted to try to do a task using it, found the tool, didn’t understand anything, and walked out.

Yet another confirmation that we need to put effort into our product’s first impression. That seems to describe an average bad experience with our product perfectly:

  1. Our marketing is excellent. Here’s a person learning about RICE. That’s where we are right now in terms of search and advertising.
  2. We have a remarkable landing page for prioritization technique seekers, such as prioritization frameworks. Here is all you can find about the RICE framework: a description, an opinion, a video instruction, a product template, a Google Sheets template, etc.
  3. He tries to use the service but has no idea what a zillion sections are. She wants RICE priority for his task list! That’s it. She doesn’t need anything else in the first session.

Jobs-to-be-done from the user’s perspective:

  1. Find the RICE framework.
  2. Get my tasks into it.
  3. Evaluate.
  4. Use the RICE priority score to soften my tasks.

Sounds easy, right? Let’s work from here.

Mistake #1: Your product is too confusing without sales or success helping out.

Yep! That’s frustrating, and it is the reason for our low PQL rates. But, on the other hand, if I have a 30-minute Zoom call with a user, I’ll definitely sell the product to them.

The problem with sales/customer success demos is that, nowadays, users don’t want to waste their time on personal demos. Instead, most users want to interact with the product in the first session and move forward.

Of course, you may mention Superhuman’s exclusive 30-minute onboarding session. However, they have a high level of hype brand awareness, which is not an option for an average SAAS. It will be interesting to learn the numbers someday when Superhuman can skip human-only onboarding.

Mistake #2: You have too much of a blank slate.

Yes, let’s eliminate as many blank slates as possible during the first session!

User: “The first screen. That makes sense — I can see the RICE criteria, the evaluation table, etc.”
User: “Why is that table there? How do you add a task? Why is it empty? Or not. A lot of unstructured information to read.” It’s not an obvious representation of the influential report: the Eisenhower Matrix.
User: “Scores? What are the sources? Is it necessary for me to have an empty report for filed scores during the first session?”
User: “Questions? Too much text. I don’t want to read. Don’t understand what questions and from whom.” However, in the future, after a user invites teammates, it’s excellent to check the list of uncertainties in your evaluation process.
User: “Boom! The focus mode! What the hell is that?” However, when you evaluate more and more, you want more context on your screen. But not at the first session.
User: “Team alignment? I am the only user on the account. What purpose does that serve?” However, it’s an influential report for large teams to consider how they are aligned with their priorities.

As a result, the user will see content for only 3 of the 11 menu items during the first session.

However, for long-term users, each of the sections makes sense. It’s useful. They make extensive use of it all. They are more than willing to pay for that.

Our product has many useful features; however, the user is overwhelmed by them during the first session. So, we’ll hide all of the empty screens during the first session.

Mistake #3: You didn’t explain “what’s in it for me.”

Good idea, you can design each screen for what it needs — just a big message.

We now have a dedicated place for the “task import from current task-tracker” call to action.

To write: here, you have to examine all tasks following evaluation and planning—that screen where you evaluate tasks, etc.

Mistake #4: Nobody cares about product tours.

However, in-product tours are a band-aid and not a panacea. Therefore, your product must be self-explanatory.

Perhaps someone is capable of cooking Intercom’s Product Tours. However, not us. Moreover, I never find a person who succeeds with them.

Shallow completion rate. People hate all those pop-ups.

The same with onboarding emails. It’s nice to have them, but with a 10–20% open rate. You can’t rely on them for product education. If users miss them, they should still have an opportunity to learn about using your product.

Bonus mistake #5: Change familiar UX patterns

The article omitted other mistakes because they are less relevant to current Ducalis.io onboarding problems and added one that will be great.

All SAAS’s products compete with Excel (Google Sheets). As a result, tables are essential for our product. However, they work differently:

Confusion #1: is it editable or not?
Confusion #2: Can I add my tasks?

The evaluation screen is very similar to Google Sheets but behaves differently.

That was deliberate. We wanted to guide the user through each screen and disable some editing features. As with the evaluation screen, you must focus only on scores. You can review top priorities, create new tasks, etc. We thought it was a fantastic idea to assist users in navigating the process.

However, the great “UX invention” failed. Excel, Google Sheets, Notion, Airtable, Coda, and other tables-as-a-service tools all allow you to do this without limitation. And if it doesn’t work in Ducalis.io, it is more likely a buggy product, and I will need to learn a new UX pattern.

As a result, we must address this as well.

Here is my retrospective on our onboarding mistakes. If you have used our product and have any feedback, please drop me a line at vit@ducalis.io.

I’m going to work on improving our PQL rates.




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Vit Myshlaev

Vit Myshlaev

Ducalis.io co-founder, product, growth, startups, (live) music

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