15 Great User Onboarding Examples to Inspire Your Team
In SaaS, smooth user onboarding is essential to engage and activate users. But what are some good user onboarding examples that can explain this better?
In this article, we’ll cover what user onboarding is, why it’s important for SaaS businesses, and how successful companies have implemented it.
So if you want to learn how to apply the best onboarding practices in your business, keep reading.
- User onboarding is the ongoing process of educating users about your product and making them more proficient with it.
- User onboarding is essential to offer a great first-time user experience (FTUE), lead customers to success, improve product adoption, and boost customer lifetime value (LTV).
- The best user onboarding experiences must be: User-centric, personalized, interactive, and continuous.
- There are 15 user onboarding examples and strategies by successful SaaS companies:
- Designing a continuous onboarding process that constantly provides value, like Userpilot.
- Letting users choose a path that fits their use case, like Notion.
- Blending onboarding elements like empty states and chatbots with the UI. And incentivizing users to learn by using the app, like Slack.
- Helping the user to get started with interactive walkthroughs and user onboarding checklists, like Kommunicate.
- Improving the learning curve with interactive video onboarding, like Tolstoy.
- Personalizing the user onboarding process for each user persona, like Canva.
- Building awesome user onboarding experiences by using friendly faces, jokes, and emojis. Just like Lemlist.
- Implementing onboarding gamification to catch free trial users’ interest and help them reach the AHA moment earlier, like ProdPad.
- Leveraging the reverse trial method to capture free trial users, like Toggl.
- Celebrating whenever the user reaches a milestone, like Calendly.
- Providing an interactive learning experience around the app with a demo example, like Grammarly.
- Focusing on visuals and GIFs to teach users how to use your product, like Miro.
- Simplifying and using your own product to teach users how to use it, like Demio.
- Using welcome messages and video tutorials to give a great first impression, like StoryChief.
- Showing users the main product features with well-designed GIFs and visuals, like Dropbox.
- No-code tools like Userpilot can help you build a world-class onboarding experience. So why not book a demo to implement them without relying on your dev team?
What is user onboarding?
User onboarding is the ongoing process of educating users about your product and making them more proficient with it.
Onboarding isn’t linear. It’s a cyclical process that starts with the user’s first interactions with your app and continues until they reach multiple milestones. And then continues with secondary onboarding, tertiary onboarding, and account expansion.
Why does user onboarding matter?
Users are very unlikely to activate if you don’t help them.
With a dedicated user onboarding strategy, you can:
- Offer a first-time user experience (FTUE) so good that people stick with your product.
- Drive customers through the user journey and lead them on the right path to success.
- Improve product adoption by making your app a fundamental part of your customer’s life.
- Boost your retention rates and increase customer lifetime value (LTV).
That said, a good onboarding process is often the difference between an activated user and a user who doesn’t see value in your product—that’s why you need to craft a personalized onboarding experience for your customers carefully.
What makes a good user onboarding experience?
What makes a great user onboarding experience so good that it can bring so much potential for product growth?
Well, here’s what we believe every onboarding process should check these qualities:
- User-centric. Be focused on giving users the information they need, and no more than that. Otherwise, you’d overwhelm them with too much unnecessary info (think of the boring product tours everyone skips).
- Personalized. Not all your customers have the same goals. Make an effort to find out your user’s use case and design a bespoke onboarding experience that fits their needs.
- Interactive. Your user onboarding flows shouldn’t be completely predetermined and static. Instead, allow users to choose where they want to go next with, for example, interactive walkthroughs.
- Continuous. Onboarding is not a linear path. It’s a cycle. So you’ll never stop introducing new ways to use your product, offer help with new features, and guide them toward the next milestone with secondary onboarding—no matter their stage.
So, are you ready to onboard users the right way?
15 great user onboarding examples to learn from
Designing an onboarding process that fits all those traits is easier said than done. So, how are you supposed to know the best way to onboard your target customers and make them realize the value of your product?
Let’s take a look at these 15 user onboarding examples from successful companies:
Userpilot’s value-driven onboarding experience
As a SaaS company, we’ve designed our entire onboarding process carefully to make it as straightforward for our users to get started with Userpilot. And it follows these seven steps:
1. The signup process. Starting with a frictionless signup page that leverages social proof and a client picture. Only the most important details, such as email, name, and password, are needed, allowing for single sign-on options too.
2. Email verification. We show a concise email verification page with microcopy that clearly explains the required steps and provides multiple alternatives at once.
3. Personalization. We encourage users to customize the color palette of their interface to match their brands.
4. Welcome screen. Once a user enters the dashboard, Userpilot shows a modal with a greeting message that also prompts the user to follow a key step: install the chrome extension.
5. User onboarding checklist. Instead of leaving the user to their luck, Userpilot guides them with a small checklist that includes the most important steps to reach the activation stage. The checklist is designed with a progress bar and dummy tasks so users can know where they are and move closer to their goals.
6. In-app guidance. While users interact with the app, Userpilot shows various UX patterns, such as tooltips, banners, and hotspots, to offer a contextual onboarding experience and highlight new features.
7. Self-service support. Userpilot also has an easily accessible resource center for self-service support. This way, users can quickly browse the knowledge base to find articles, watch videos, sign up for a webinar, and contact customer support when needed.
Notion’s branched user onboarding example
Your onboarding process doesn’t have to be linear. For example, Notion’s onboarding process allows users to choose a path that matches their use case so they can personalize and adjust their onboarding to their needs.
In Notion’s case, they streamline your setup experience depending on whether you work with a team or only for yourself.
Slack’s “learn by doing” user onboarding example
Slack’s onboarding is very thorough and carefully designed to be intuitive.
One of the key steps that they do particularly well is how they leverage microcopy and empty states to introduce their primary features, such as Threads to new users—while also adding a non-intrusive help tab at the right side of the screen:
Then, Slack’s own onboarding tool, called Slack bot, greets new users when they join. The friendly chatbot guides new users through Slack’s main features and shares helpful tips and tricks for using the platform.
This hands-on approach ensures customers don’t need to go back and forth between the app and a quick-start guide to figure out what each instruction means.
Kommunicate’s interactive user onboarding example
Kommunicate is more clever when onboarding users.
Instead of showing an empty state full of irrelevant templates and information that the user will have to delete manually, Kommunicate includes a clear installation checklist and a distracting banner that prompts users to install the app.
Once your account is set up, the app will show another checklist for onboarding.
And what makes this checklist better is that you can click any item from it to trigger a relevant interactive guide taking you through your chosen workflow.
This process is a progressive onboarding strategy that only triggers in-app tutorials for one feature at a time, so the user can stay busy (in a productive way) without feeling overwhelmed with information.
Tolstoy’s interactive video onboarding example
Do you know what’s even better than interactive tutorials? An interactive video tutorial.
Tolstoy—a video creation app—uses their own tool to elevate the onboarding process to the next level.
Their onboarding process is simple, but it stands out from the rest as it introduces you to their main features showing personal videos made by their friendly team.
But that’s not all. Tolstoy also lets you choose which video to watch next and take your own (but guided) path to success.
Canva’s personalized onboarding experience
A tool like Canva can’t have a one-size-fits-all onboarding process for all users. It has a wide range of user personas, from professional designers to teachers, to corporations, etc.
Thus, if you want your onboarding process to be worthwhile, you need to collect enough data during signup and segment users right from the beginning so you can customize their experience. And Canva does ask you right away what you want to do:
Once you get started, you’ll notice that all the templates available will be tailored to your use case and goals.
Instead of triggering a boring product tour right away, Canva will show contextual tooltips and modals as you start engaging with features, making the learning process more interactive and smooth.
Additionally, you always have access to the help bar to easily access guides, FAQs, and troubleshooting articles as needed.
Lemlist’s personal and friendly onboarding
B2B is often seen as dull—but it doesn’t have to be like that.
For example, Lemlist has a simple onboarding flow that stands out because they always find a way to make it entertaining and lighthearted.
Here, they ask you to choose one teammate to send a test email:
Of course, it doesn’t skip the tooltips to educate customers about the app.
And even better, you’re not forced to go through their user onboarding flow if you find it too cheesy, and you can restart it anytime if you forget about something.
ProdPad’s gamified onboarding flow
ProdPad is an end-to-end product management tool designed to make the lives of PMs easier.
In general, users can try the product for 14 days for free before switching to a paid plan.
But, you can add more days to your trial if you complete some tasks and milestones from ProdPad’s onboarding checklist.
It’s a great way to encourage users to explore the product until they have their “Aha” moment. This form of gamification not only helps to increase the onboarding completion rate but also decreases the time to value for new users.
Toggl’s reverse trial method
On the other hand, you can leverage the reverse trial method to capture free trial users—just like Toggl.
When you sign up to Toggl, you can access all the premium features for 30 days, regardless of your plan. This means you can try the product’s full potential as a freemium user and then decide if it’s worth paying for it.
Now, Toggle won’t leave you alone during the trial. They’ll immediately onboard you throughout the product with in-app tooltips so you can learn how to use the premium features before the full access period ends.
Toggl will also celebrate whenever you reach a milestone with a pop-up and incentivize you to learn more tricks:
Calendly is a tool that requires some setup to work correctly and get activated.
For this reason, the first thing you’ll be prompted to do when signing up is to set up your URL, timezone, and sync meetings with your calendar. It will then show you a checklist for booking a call with yourself, so you can know exactly how it works and realize the value of the app.
Also, after all the tedious process, Calendly celebrates your milestone to make you feel accomplished and introduces you to more ways to customize your experience:
Grammarly’s “learning as you go” onboarding approach
The best way to learn is by doing.
Grammarly knows it. Hence the first thing you see when you sign up is a modal asking you to take a quick tour.
Afterward, users are presented with a demo document to experiment with and see how Grammarly works in practice. The demo environment is supported by different UI patterns that guide users and smooth the onboarding experience.
Pulsing hotspots highlight notable features—just subtle enough not to obscure the interface, but eye-catching enough to engage users. Clicking on the hotspots reveals tooltips describing the feature in more detail.
The uniqueness of Grammarly’s onboarding lies in the fact that it is often used as an extension rather than its own platform. Because of the tool’s nature, supposedly in-app onboarding experiences often occurs outside of the platform.
Miro’s short and easy user onboarding example
Since Miro’s product barely has a learning curve, they could get away with a simpler onboarding flow.
But still, the learning process starts with short gifs from their learning center, which explains how to use the app with visuals and makes the onboarding process seamless.
Additionally, Miro likes to know your opinion on their features, so they collect passive feedback in real-time during onboarding. Allowing you to rate your particular experience and submit it to the team (potentially making a better app).
Demio’s engaging and frictionless flow
Sometimes, you want to keep things simple but engaging.
Their onboarding shows you how to use the product in real-time, including live chats, recordings, etc. And they even use their own product to teach you how to use their product.
StoryChief’s engaging onboarding
The first-time user experience can make or break your user onboarding.
But it doesn’t stop there. Later on, you’ll trigger another modal window with a video tutorial embedded in it—giving you upfront information about how to use Storychief properly.
Dropbox’s self-paced onboarding
During onboarding, you should never leave users to their own luck to see if they like the product—you must show them.
However, it doesn’t mean you should remove their options. It’s also beneficial to allow users to explore what grabs their attention, dismiss guides, and progress at their own pace.
When you start with Dropbox, you’re invited to take a tour covering its four most important features (adding files, organizing, sharing, and finding support) while using GIFs to show exactly how to use them.
Dropbox also provides a downloadable PDF you can access after onboarding in case you need to revisit some information.
User onboarding is a cyclical process that never ends. But, the user retention benefits are worth it if well-implemented.
With these user onboarding examples, you know what strategies can fit your SaaS and take the first steps to lead your customers to success.
Thankfully, no-code tools like Userpilot can help you add in-app tooltips and personalize your onboarding experience. So why not book a demo to implement them without relying on your dev team?