Pendo Onboarding Checklist Review [In-Depth]

How Does a Pendo Onboarding Checklist Work?

If you’re looking to highlight important onboarding tasks for your new customers, you may have considered using a Pendo onboarding checklist.

The purpose of a checklist is to keep key tasks top of mind for your users, thereby maximizing the odds of users becoming activated.

Pendo’s checklists are a little hard to find: they’re embedded in the Resource Center feature, which isn’t accessible for free users.

So if you’re looking for a guide on how these checklists function but don’t want to spend time or money in testing their checklists manually, this article is for you.

TL;DR

  • Pendo’s checklists have a clean, modern design.
  • End-users of Pendo can find checklists in the resource center feature. Pendo says that this is to reduce intrusiveness, but this reasoning is not persuasive.
  • SaaS companies using Pendo will be confused and disorientated by the absence of checklists from Pendo’s Guide feature.
  • Pendo’s checklists are not available on their free trial and are only included in the pricey “pro” subscription.
  • Segmentation of checklists is much easier on Userpilot than it is on Pendo.
  • In general, checklists are more intuitive to find for both SaaS companies and end-users on Userpilot than they are on Pendo.

Assessing the UI quality of Pendo’s checklists

What makes a checklist easy on the eye?

In our previous blog content on the subject of checklists, we suggested the following best practices:

  • Keep the checklist as simple as possible.
  • Give users credit for tasks they’ve already done.
  • Add a progress bar to give the user a sense of momentum.
  • Use gamification elements such as badges where possible.
  • Make the first task as easy as possible, so that users experience a quick win.
  • Ensure that the copywriting focuses on action.

Wanna build checklists 10x cheaper and faster than in Pendo? Check out how to do them in Userpilot:

Userpilot checklist

Let’s have a look at one of Pendo’s checklists and see how it shapes up against these factors:

Pendo checklist UI

Pendo likes progress bars

The first thing that jumps out at me is the progress bar at the bottom. This is a great way to let the customer know how close they are to completing their goal.

Those green rings are a bit hard to view when zoomed out, so here’s another screenshot so that you see it in more detail:

Pendo checklist zoomed in

Clean, professional checklist UI

Looking at the checklist UI overall, it has a very clean, minimalistic feel. One suspects that this type of look is going to be a fit for the vast majority of SaaS businesses.

And if you want to change the colors and feel of the checklist to match the idiosyncrasies of your particular brand, Pendo will let you do that as well.

Assuming that their customer gets the copy right and makes the first checklist task as easy as possible, we think that Pendo’s checklist UI will get the job done in an adequate manner here.

How visible is Pendo’s onboarding checklist for end-users?

Ultimately, the end-users of Pendo’s checklists are the customers of Pendo’s users.

In other words, if SaaS company XYZ uses Pendo to facilitate user onboarding, we’re talking about XYZ’s customers who are learning XYZ’s product.

How easy is it for people like that to find and benefit from a Pendo checklist?

Pendo puts checklists in the resource center

End users can find Pendo checklists in the resource center. Pendo’s help article describes the process as follows:

“Your customers can access the Resource Center once it’s live by clicking a customized icon in the corner of your app. This provides a less intrusive way for users to get in-context help as they move from onboarding to adoption.”

Here’s what that resource center icon looks like:

Pendo resource center

Less intrusive?

Pendo’s argument is that putting checklists inside the resource center is “less intrusive” for customers than if the checklists were visible by default on the side of the UI, like this example from GrowthMentor, built in Userpilot:

Example checklist

But I don’t buy this reasoning.

A checklist is an essential tool for SaaS companies to ensure that users activate.

By laying out the activation tasks for each user segment in a custom checklist, you drastically reduce the threat of Day 1 churn, which is a real problem for many SaaS businesses.

So there’s a strong argument for making the checklist as easy for end-users to see as possible.

As James Clear points out in his book “Atomic Habits,” those behaviors which are the most visible are the most likely to become habitual over time.

So do you really want to add the extra friction of putting it inside the resource center, and hoping that the end-user will find it? Why would you leave your user activation up to chance like that?

By contrast, if an end-user of Userpilot’s were to log in, and SaaS company XYZ were to have created a checklist for that person’s segment, the checklist would display automatically.

Postfity checklist
Source: Postfity, checklist made with Userpilot

Much more straightforward.

How visible is a Pendo onboarding checklist for SaaS companies that want to build one?

To build a checklist as a SaaS company using Pendo, you first have to create a resource center for your app.

Pendo resource center

Next, you have to add an onboarding module to your resource center which will house your onboarding checklist.

Again, I’ll let Pendo explain the process in their own words:

“In addition to housing help documentation, product announcements, and a Feedback submission portal, you can add an onboarding module to your resource center that will provide an onboarding checklist for new users.”

Should checklists be included in Pendo’s Guides?

Notably, the checklist feature is NOT part of the Guides section of Pendo, which we previously reviewed here.

To recap, “Guides” are Pendo’s version of product walkthroughs. They consist of combinations of UI elements that literally guide users towards the desired outcome.

Pendo Guides

I think that it’s an illogical design move on Pendo’s part to keep checklists out of the Guides feature. Here’s why.

Put simply: product walkthroughs and checklists are intimately related to each other from a customer experience perspective.

If you want to onboard your customer in a particular feature, there’s no better way to do it than to serve them with a checklist and get them to work through 2-3 key steps.

There’s good psychological evidence for this argument.

There is a phenomenon called the “Zeigarnik effect,” which is the observation that humans are more likely to remember incomplete tasks than finished ones.

Zeigarnik effect
Source: PassTheBoardExam

So if you give your customer a checklist, you are ensuring that the incomplete items on there remain top of mind.

The Zeigarnik effect may seem insignificant… until you realize just how financially important it is for SaaS companies to get customers to start using key features.

And you can apply this reasoning about the psychological value of checklists to any stage of the customer journey, not just on Day One. Why not use checklists in secondary onboarding too?

So if I were running Pendo, I would want to make it as easy as possible for my customers to link Guides to checklists.

The way Pendo has done it suggests that checklists are seen as more of an optional extra, which just doesn’t make any sense.

Are there other app onboarding tools that highlight checklists more effectively?

If you want to see a UI that does a better job of highlighting the value of checklists in product walkthroughs, Userpilot provides an instructive example.

The first thing to note is that checklists are immediately accessible via the navigation on the left.

Userpilot navigation

You don’t have to install a Resource Center to be able to see this checklist feature either.

Also, note that the option to create a checklist is right next to the UI for building experience flows.

This makes it much more intuitive for SaaS companies using Userpilot to integrate checklists into their onboarding patterns than it is on Pendo.

Over time, that will translate into stickier onboarding, better user activation, and more money from monthly subscription payments.

And speaking of pricing…

How much does it cost to use Pendo checklists?

If you’re someone who likes to learn by doing and was thinking of trying out a Pendo checklist for yourself to get a feel for it, I’ve got some bad news for you.

Checklists are not available on Pendo’s free trial.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s a screenshot from Pendo’s pricing page proving just that. Look at the asterisk next to the Resource Center feature, which is where checklists are housed:

Pendo pricing

This means that if you want to try out Pendo’s checklists for yourself, you’ll need to start paying for a monthly subscription.

Their website is unclear as to how much exactly this will cost, but online reviews suggest annual contracts starting at $2,000-$5,000 per year for a single product, and around $12,000 per year for the lower-tier package.

That’s quite a lot of money just to test out a checklist.

You shouldn’t have to spend money in 2022 just to try a checklist

By comparison, Userpilot offers all feature types to all plan levels, regardless of cost. We just think that’s fair.

Userpilot pricing

So if you want to check out the checklists on Userpilot, you can just sign up for a free trial and do so at your leisure.

Maybe I’m too thrifty, but I like to try before I buy. So this just seems like a better option than Pendo.

How easy is it to segment a checklist on Pendo?

Veterans of onboarding will know that the more optimized a checklist is to the individual needs of a customer segment, the more effective it will be.

You don’t want to be in a position where you try and make your checklists be all things to all people. That’s just a recipe for churn.

Churn indicators

So as I was looking at Pendo’s checklists, I wanted to make sure that you can segment them.

And indeed, it seems like segmenting checklists is possible on Pendo. Here’s another direct quote from a Pendo support article:

“You can add segmentation rules on both the guide level as well as the module level to ensure users are only seeing help that is relevant to them. Some common examples: segmenting the onboarding checklist module to new users within their first 30 days, segmenting certain guides for specific user personas or account types.”

It’s not entirely clear from the way their help article is worded, but it seems like segmenting checklists would be under the “module level” part of this, since the way that you set up checklists is by adding an onboarding module to your resource center.

But again, one has to wonder how many Pendo customers are going to find the segmentation feature if it’s nestled in an obscure part of the resource center UI.

And if you buy the argument that segmentation is an essential part of making checklists appealing to end-users, wouldn’t you want to make the segmentation UI as visible to your customers as possible?

Compare Userpilot

Again, a comparison with Userpilot is instructive here, just so you can see how the ease of segmentation on Pendo compares with other platforms.

Here’s the list of checklists on this demo app:

Checklists on Userpilot

If I click on one, here is what is shown:

Segmenting checklist

And if I click on “Targeting,” here are the options for segmenting:

Quick, easy, and intuitive.

Much simpler than looking this up in the resource center feature, isn’t it?

Conclusion

So now you know what Pendo’s checklists are like! And you didn’t have to buy a subscription to figure that out 🙂

To summarize:

  • Pendo’s checklists look great visually.
  • But they’re hard to find for users.
  • And hard to build and segment for SaaS companies…
  • … assuming that you’re willing to pay to do so.

By comparison:

  • Userpilot’s checklists are visually equal to Pendo’s in terms of quality.
  • They’re much easier for end-users to see.
  • The checklist building and segmentation UI are easily accessible and intuitive to use.
  • And you can try them for free.

So what are you waiting for? Give Userpilot a try today!

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