Onboarding learnings

This week, I've been thinking about onboarding as part of a case study I'm working on. I've found some helpful resources, and I wanted to share a few takeaways:

  • Onboarding is important from a design perspective, but it's crucial from a business perspective. Generally, user retention falls dramatically after a couple of uses. Products need to quickly demonstrate value to bring potential customers to the next step of the acquisition funnel.
  • First-use onboarding flows often seem like a good idea, and they're quite common. However, they come with significant downsides. There's a high cognitive cost to remembering everything in a flow. A large number of users will likely flip through it without reading too closely, anyway. Where does onboarding go, then? Onboarding concepts can be injected into empty states, revealed while a user is working on a key task, or added to (brief) in-product walkthroughs.
  • The ideal situation is to be conducting research and collecting data about onboarding on a regular basis. Still, even a single question survey can be effective at grasping sentiment at a key point of a task.

Onboarding is a small part of a product's design, but it's worth the effort to improve upon it.

Here are some of the resources that have helped me learn about onboarding: