User Onboarding: An In-Depth Guide to Everything You Want to Know About It

What is user onboarding? Learn about user onboarding in detail, including its importance, elements, and best practices.


When it comes to user onboarding, a common saying, “ the first impression is the last impression,” fits perfectly. If you can impress a user via your product/service in the first go, your job is more than half done. It’s all about giving your visitor something of value or something surprisingly good that compels them to stick with you. Let’s understand user onboarding in detail under the following subheadings.

Define User Onboarding.

User onboarding is the process of introducing new users to your product/service. It’s the first time a user interacts with your offering, so you must get it right.

Often, user onboarding is done without a user manual or even a tutorial video—it can be as simple as a single page describing what steps they should take next after they sign up. But some companies do choose to incorporate more formalized introductions into their onboarding flow.

It doesn't matter how you choose to introduce yourself to new users. Remember that your goal at this point is to make sure they understand enough to navigate on their own in future sessions with no further guidance.

There are several ways to accomplish this. The most common and perhaps the easiest way is through a simple “Getting Started” tutorial that walks users through how your product or service works. This can be done via text or video and is often accompanied by screenshots or illustrations to help users visualize their learning.

Some companies choose to keep this content separate from onboarding, but many others include it in their introduction. This can be helpful for users who are new to your brand or product category and may need a firm grasp on what's possible with the technology and service you're offering them.

Why Is User Onboarding Important?

User onboarding is one of the most important things you can do to improve your product. It’s the process of getting new users up to speed with how the product works, and it includes any onscreen copy, video tutorials, or walkthroughs that help them become familiar with your product.

Through user onboarding, businesses can increase user retention by building a habit within a user’s first few sessions. This means that if you want your customers to keep using your service repeatedly, you need strong user onboarding.

User onboarding is also an effective way to reduce churn rates because it ensures people feel confident about using your product from day one. This means they won't have any questions about how things work when they're trying something new for the first time. And, if there are any problems along the way, resources will be available to figure out how everything works.

Last but not least, among its many benefits: is customer loyalty. In fact, most companies now rely heavily upon their marketing campaigns instead of sales teams due to rising costs associated with traditional advertising methods but still want those same results without spending millions per year while doing so.

This is why it's so important to focus on your customer experience from the moment they first use your product or service through their entire lifecycle with you. This can be done in several different ways, but one of the most effective strategies is by implementing user onboarding flows in order to get people up and running as quickly as possible so that they can start seeing results for themselves.

By focusing on customer experience, you'll be able to create higher-quality leads and customers who are more likely to stick around for the long haul. This will allow you to spend less money on marketing while still getting the same results—or better than ever before.

Key Elements of User onboarding 

User onboarding is the process of helping users understand how your product works and what value it can offer them. It's an opportunity to tell a story about what your product or service is, why they should use it, and how they'll benefit from using it.

There are three elements that every onboarding user sequence will have:

The Welcome Screen: A quick glimpse into what your product does and why people would want to use it. Let us take a user onboarding example. Suppose you were building an app for dog owners who want to find nearby parks where their pups can play with any other off-leash dog. This could be a good place for you to show pictures of dogs playing together at various parks (and maybe even mention the benefits of doing so). You might also include links that allow new users access to more information about specific features within your app. This section is also a great place for you, as the creator, to introduce yourself and let new users know you're excited about working with them.

Tabs/Buttons: Tabs/buttons take users through each step within the user journey. These tabs/buttons guide the users through each step in the user experience so they know what they need to do next without having any questions arise before fully completing each stage. Make sure that content on these pages serves only one purpose: guiding users towards completing their desired goal, so there's no room left for confusion or misdirection.

This is a great place to include links to external resources (like your website or blog), which can help new users learn more about your app and/or get in touch with you if they have any questions. You might also want to include a link that allows users who are already signed up for your app to log in and see what features are available to them.

Pop-Ups/Models: Pop-ups/models are a great way to get users' attention and inform them of something important. You can use these tools when you want to let them know about a new feature that's been added or any changes that have been made within your app. They're also useful for letting users know if they've missed out on an opportunity or have an incomplete profile (for example, if they still need to complete their profile).

If you're going to use pop-ups/models, make sure they're relevant and timely. For example, if someone signs up for your app but hasn't completed their profile yet, don't send them a pop-up asking them to complete it within the next day or two; just give them more time than that, so they have time to do it in their own free time.

User onboarding: Latest Statistics

User onboarding software statistics show that the proportion of users who register after downloading the app is 41%, and the average time it takes to complete an app’s user onboarding process is 3 to 7 seconds.

According to Quettra's research, an average app loses 77% of its DAUs in the first three days following installation.

The average number of times a user returns to the app is 8 out of 20, but the average number of days a user keeps an app installed is 14 out of 20.

The average user lifetime value (LTV) per user is $10, and the average cost of acquiring a new user is $5. This means that, on average, it costs $5 to acquire a new user and makes $10 from them. The best way to increase retention is by improving the onboarding process. This will allow you to get more users through your app’s initial setup and reduce the number of people who abandon it after their first session.

Best practices for Onboarding New Users

User onboarding best practices include:

  • Using well-structured tutorials that flow logically from one step to another with clear instructions and encouragement along the way (the "discover" stage)
  • Providing quick wins as soon as possible so that users feel satisfied with their experience after just one session (the "explore" stage)
  • Creating a "call to action" that encourages users to take the next step in their onboarding journey (the "achieve" stage)
  • Keeping user onboarding as short and simple as possible so that users can get through it quickly and easily (the "consume" stage)

Most people think that user onboarding is only for new users. But even if you’ve sent your app out into the world, it’s still important to keep in touch with your users and make sure they understand how to use it.

KPIs and Metrics for User Onboarding

The following is a list of onboarding user metrics and KPIs you should be tracking:

User retention rate: This shows how many users are still using your product after a certain period of time (e.g., 30 days). It’s calculated by dividing the total number of retained users by the total number of registered users at any point in time.

Activation rate: A metric that shows how many of your new signups actually complete their first goal or action within a given timeframe (usually seven days).

Net promoter score (NPS): A measure of customer loyalty based on surveys asking customers whether they would recommend your services/products to someone else in the same situation as them.

Referral rate: This includes how many people refer other potential customers or clients.

Conversion rate: This is one of the most important metrics to track. It shows how many people are converting from free users to paying customers (or how many leads turn into sales). You can also track the average revenue per user or average order value.

The higher your conversion rate, the better. You can track this by segmenting your users into different groups and comparing their conversion rates. For example, if you have a free trial that allows people to try out your product before purchasing it, then make sure to compare how many people from each segment converted into paying customers after using the trial period.

User Onboarding: Avoid These Things 

The following are things to avoid when designing a user onboarding process:

Adding too many steps: The best user onboarding flows have fewer than 15 steps and even fewer than 10. You want to make sure your users can get through the entire flow in one sitting without losing interest or forgetting something from one step to the next.

Using jargon and technical terms: While you'll need some of this in your product documentation (and should definitely define them), you shouldn't use jargon in your site or app's main messaging—not if you want new users to understand what's going on.

A single page: While some user onboarding flows can be effectively communicated on one page, most should have at least two or three steps to keep users from feeling overwhelmed by all the information they have to take in at once.

Asking too many questions: While you want to collect data from users, there's a point where asking too many questions can make them feel overwhelmed and turn them away from your product.

Making assumptions: One of the biggest mistakes you can make when designing a user onboarding process is to assume that users will know what they need to do at each step. You have to walk them through each step, guiding them along the way and explaining why it's important for them to complete it now (versus later).

Don't assume that users have the same goals as you. Many products are designed with a specific customer in mind. While this can help shape your messaging and features, it also means that some users will need clarification on what they see on the screen when they first open up your product.

This can lead to them getting frustrated and giving up before they've even had a chance to see what your product can do for them. Don't leave people hanging. After completing each step, make sure that users know what happens next, so they don't feel lost or confused by what's happening on screen.

The last thing you want is for users to feel like they're in the dark, especially when it comes to something as important as setting up their accounts. If there's something that needs a response from them, make sure it's clear what they need to do next.

Using complex language: The whole point of a user onboarding flow is to get users started as quickly as possible. If they need clarification on what you say, chances are they'll give up before they've gotten very far into your product. Keep things simple and straightforward so that even someone who's not familiar with the industry can understand what's happening on screen.

Checklist for Onboarding New Users

When you're building a new product or service, it can be tempting to focus on the core value proposition and then launch it into the world. While this is certainly a good strategy for many products and services, there are other considerations that may make user onboarding more important than you realize.

User onboarding:

  • Is an important part of the customer lifecycle:

You might think that user onboarding is only useful for new customers, but it has a much wider impact. In fact, you can use user onboarding to drive engagement and retention for existing customers as well. The more people who are engaged with your product or service, the more likely they are to renew their subscription or buy additional products from you in the future.

  • Helps you to increase engagement and retention:

When it comes to user onboarding, the key is to help users understand how your product or service solves their problems. You want them to quickly see why they should be using your app or website instead of one of your competitors. You can increase engagement and retention from the beginning by providing a clear value proposition that benefits both parties.

  • Doable at different stages of the customer lifecycle

User onboarding is an important part of the customer lifecycle. When you think about it, most new users have never interacted with your product or service before. They need to be guided through each step so that they don’t get confused or frustrated—and give up before they become loyal customers.

There are many different stages of the customer lifecycle, and each one requires a slightly different approach to user onboarding. For example, when you’re trying to attract new customers, it’s important that they don’t feel overwhelmed by all of the features available—or confused about how they work together. On the other hand, if you want existing customers to renew their subscriptions or buy additional products from you in the future, then you need to focus more on engagement and retention instead of acquisition.


Now that you know the basics of user onboarding, you can test different approaches and see what works best for your product. Remember that the key is to keep it simple and focus on getting users to complete their first goal. This will help you build trust and gain a deeper understanding of how your users will interact with your product or service in the future. Zorp is a unique drag-and-drop app-building platform that can help you develop tailored apps for efficient user onboarding. Do check it out!

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