Onboarding Academy

Common mistakes when building onboarding flows

Building a user onboarding flow can take time but doing it well requires a little bit more than time and effort. Do you know which the most frequent mistakes are? We analyze the most frequent errors when building user onboarding flows.

#1 — Not knowing your potential users

Not knowing your target audience well enough can lead you to create an onboarding process that does not suit their needs and expectations. Be aware that the first interaction with your product or service is key when deciding whether or not they want to give it a try, but how can we exactly find out what their pain points and aspirations are?

The solution: Create and check your user personas

Learn more about the people who are interested in your product through research, surveys and polls, live demos and interviews. Use all this information to build your user and buyer personas profile, and remember to keep them updated.

Feedback, observation and dialogue are important to get that information, but you can also use your registration forms and progressive profiling practices, building frictionless forms and flows to try to annoy the users as little as possible.

UX issues in forms also have a significant impact on conversion. Errors that may seem minor, such as deleting all the form data if the user makes a mistake with the password, displaying a long form or not giving different options such as social login can cause some users to abandon the process even before trying the product.

In addition to this and their needs and aspirations, it is very important to find out if they have the necessary skills and knowledge to use your product. This will really provide a lot of information to build the guidance they need to start getting the most out of it.

#2 — Abandoning them on an empty canvas

It can help you analyze the behavior of your users, but if your tool or editor is a bit complex, they may not know where to start. Giving some basic hints or indications to the new users is a key factor at this point, especially to avoid frustration in their first steps.

The solution: Co-creating a working example

To help your users to become more familiar with the interface, it is useful to guide them in their first interactions with it. For example, you can use a walkthrough or any other type of contextual help to quickly indicate to them how to build a use case.

Accompanying your users in their first contact also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate the potential of your service in a few minutes, especially if after this first interaction with your service they already have a working version of what they wanted to achieve, and that's great!

#3 — Not making the learning curve progressive

Most likely, users with different levels of skills and knowledge will arrive at your product's interface and, unless only one of those profiles interests you, the onboarding flow and the walkthrough should be prepared for all of them.

Smoothing the learning curve for them is important if you want to build a broad user database and test your product with different profiles and skill sets. Make sure that it is really understandable for anyone who wants to use it, and your service will have guaranteed a big part of its success.

The solution: Flexible and skippable itineraries

Offering flexibility to each user is always a good strategy, so that they just consume the onboarding information they really need to learn. There are many options, almost as many as there are products, but there are two general trends.

For example, you can set up a different itinerary for each profile if you really know their needs and skill set, or create a unique one with skippable modules, allowing users to access different types of content related to their specific needs and to navigate on demand contextual help, guides, tutorials...

#4 — Not analyzing user behavior

Relying on assumptions, blindly trusting our intuition, or exactly replicating what has worked well for us in past projects are also frequent errors that can lead us to believe that the onboarding flow that we have created is perfect like that.

Metrics are essential to check if our ideas are working and discover if the flow could be improved, evidencing where and when our users are leaving the flow.

The solution: Measuring and tracking events

Setting up good analytics systems in your flows will help you draw conclusions and adapt it better to the needs of your users and your product, finding out where it becomes useless or annoying.

Regularly tracking these metrics and A/B testing the flows will really help us to level up their user experience and performance. For example, in the registration phase, you can use DOM events as described in this article.

#5 — Not keeping in touch

The last usual mistake is to take for granted that everything is done after explaining the basics to our users but... how can you tell if everything is working properly, if they need some help or a new need has arisen? You may be missing important issues and even a new opportunity for your service, why not? They are significant enough reasons to take them into account.

The solution: Mailing, contact and support

Provide ways to contact your team and give feedback, but also check, update and report on any change you make to your product, new features, use cases, etc. You can do it directly in the interface of your product or configure a mailing sequence or a newsletter to keep in touch with them.

Offering constant and two-way communication with your users is key if you want to know how their relationship with your product is evolving at all times. Just remember to be polite and as least intrusive as possible, leaving a door open for their response.

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