Improve your Customer Onboarding for better User Experience

WHAT IS ONBOARDING?

The onboarding process is an essential part of any new product — it’s those few simple steps that you’re encouraged to follow just after you register for a new service. The ones that gather essential information that will help you get the most out of the product, and talk you through the key elements of the software.

Creating an onboarding process is about being informative, fast and accurate, whilst selling the main pros of the product they are investing their time in.

For Nostromo, our online product management and collaboration tool, the onboarding process is about getting familiar with the concept of cards and boards, learning about the different terms and modules and making sure you understand how the software is going to improve your team communication and project management. It basically guides you through the process of creating your first task, assigning your very first card and setting out the basics to manage your very first project.

THE PROCESS OF CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT

We believe in the process of continual improvement, so whilst it’s true that we already had one onboarding process which explained Nostromo in sufficient detail, we were all up for changing it, improving it and reviewing. Again. And again. And again.

Why?

Well, the most simple answer is (which we’re sure you already know) is that continuous improvements are the most important part of product development. Actually, it’s fair to say that your product will never be ready — and so sometimes you have to make changes to features and processes that are already technically ‘finished’.

DOING IT THE NOSTROMO WAY

So how do we go about this process of continual improvement? The best way to find out whether your onboarding is good enough or not, is to continuously monitor and analyse your product’s usage data — any top analytics tool will do this for you, but for Nostromo we like to use Mixpanel.

Just set up your unique process steps, and you will be able to see at which point your users get lost, or abandon the process.

Never underestimate the importance of user feedback either, which is readily available to you during your UX research. Don’t restrict any potential feedback to when you’re specifically testing the onboarding process though, because even when you are researching other features or user habits, you will be privy to a tonne of insightful information that will help you improve other areas of your product.

That is exactly what happened with Nostromo. During the continuous user feedback we gather from our researches, it became clear that our onboarding process needed some rethinking. So rethink it we did.

Here’s our method for rethinking the onboarding process, in three easy steps:

1. DECIDE EXACLY WHAT YOU WANT TO TEST

Specifying what exactly you want to test is crucial. Do you want to investigate the efficiency of the text that describes the process? Or do you want to check the logic behind the steps? Or maybe you want to check the design to see if it’s appealing enough? With so many possibilities in-hand, it’s important not to test too many aspects — if you do, you will drown in a sea of feedback and the results may end up weak and unhelpful to the process. Our advice is to choose one or two things that you will test in depth.

For Nostromo we chose to test two things: the wording of the texts at every step and the logical workflow of the onboarding process.

2. CHOOSE A TESTING METHOD

Our method was a very common two-pronged UX research approach: the usability test and a heuristic review.

The usability test is an industry recognised method of testing. We arranged five direct user tests with people who were completely new to Nostromo. We sat them down in front of Nostromo, and asked them to registrate without giving them any further explanation. During the test sessions, (which were conducted mainly in person with our user researcher) we made screen and voice recordings and chatted with the users to make sure we had a deep understanding of their experience, struggles and overall opinion of the onboarding procedure.

Tip: If you are not able to set up a personal meeting with your users (because of distance issues) you can also arrange this test remotely with any screen sharing tool (we just love Google’s Hangouts and Skype)

Our other approach, the heuristic review also happened in a pretty classic way. Our UX researcher put on her imaginary user hat, and walked through the onboarding process step-by-step. So she could spot any areas for improvement that wasn’t mentioned in the previous user tests.

3. SUMMARISE, ORGANISE AND APPLY WHAT YOU LEARNED

From this two-pronged research process, we were left with some pretty good insights on what should be changed.

So it was time for our designers and developers to finish the work and create the new onboarding process based on the feedback we received.

WHAT DID WE CHANGE?

First up we rethought most of the text, which were redrafted to be shorter, simpler and more clear.

Then we removed all of the unnecessary steps that were deemed confusing. We also restructured some of the elements which helped no end for users of our onboarding procedure.

For a better understanding, here are some examples of what exactly did we change. On the left are the old steps, and on the right you can see the new version.

KEY LEARNINGS

Well the biggest learnings for us were, that continuous monitoring of all the elements and features is inevitable and necessary for increasing user experience. And that you don’t need to change the whole process to improve user experience. With a few small but effective changes the results can be pretty impressive.

So why don’t you check out Nostromo for yourself?


Originally published at blog.nostromo.io.