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3 Steps to Efficiently Onboard New Users

Each journey is important when it comes to the SaaS business. However, one of them stands out a bit more due to its ability in turning users into customers: new user onboarding. 
User Onboarding
Written by
Selman Gökçe
Published on
February 22, 2023

New user onboarding is showing how your first-time users can benefit from using your product or service clearly, thanks to onboarding flows. In other words, it is where you should reveal the value of your product or service to make your users stick around for longer. 

Trying to find a nice pair of sneakers is hard nowadays. 

You roll up to the store, check the store window, and see one that you'd like to try. 

The design is cool, as if it's made just for you. But, then, you try it out and realize that it isn't as comfortable as you thought it would be. Thus, you go around trying to find another pair. 

The moral of the story is that the first pair that caught your attention lost you by not being comfortable enough. 

This sounds oddly similar to another case: new user onboarding

Because once your users aren't content with something during the onboarding process, they'll leave for a competitor just like in the story. 

Let's learn more about new user onboarding and not lose the users due to poor onboarding. 

What is New User Onboarding?

New user onboarding is showing how your first-time users can benefit from using your product or service clearly, thanks to onboarding flows. In other words, it is where you should reveal the value of your product or service to make your users stick around for longer

It differs from the user onboarding process because the goal of user onboarding is successfully onboarding your users to your product or service. Meanwhile, what new user onboarding seeks is to help out your new users, as it is their first time using your product.

A successful onboarding process occurs if your users reach their "Aha!" moment as soon as possible, and you gradually have more active users.

These two steps are directly linked since user activation happens right after your users witness the core features of your product or service, while it is the "Aha!" moment that gives them the motivation to keep exploring. Thus, making proper use of these two functions will drive up user retention

To make the best of the user journey, you can resort to signup flows, welcome modals, onboarding checklists, and interactive walkthroughs in your user onboarding flow. Thus, you could turn a new user into a power user, too. 

Additionally, if you manage to introduce your users to product features fittingly during new user onboarding, you'll ensure both product and feature adoption as well. 

Let's cut to the chase and go over the steps which are crucial for onboarding new users. 

1- Understand the needs and motives of users

What you need to do as the first step can be deducted even from the name of the process: new user. Who you are going to onboard is crystal clear; they are potential customers who are NEW to your product or service.

They might not be totally clueless; they might have a few takeaways. However, this doesn't change anything because you need to exceed their expectations anyway. 

How you're going to do that is no mystery - unless you can call each and every one of them and ask about their wishes. Then, you have to obtain that information from them in such a way that neither will take much of their time nor yours. 

Your range of users will all need to go through the signup process; however, should they all land on the same page regardless of what they've come here to do? No

Making your wide range of users share the same initial experience isn't what user experience is about. You have to acquire information to provide them with a successful onboarding process

  • Who are your users?
  • What are your users here to do?
  • What do they expect from this product or service?
  • How can this product or service help them reach their goals?

While these are the questions that you should be asking regarding the user segmentation, one question is quite critical for the user onboarding flow: How can we give them all they need without any distractions or errors, which would only draw them away? 

Only when you attain the answers to these questions you'll be able to offer a satisfactory user experience for your users. 

2- Design the new user onboarding process accordingly

 If you've obtained the data needed to onboard your users regarding their needs and motives, it's time to put the data obtained into work. 

But before that, you must greet your new users by using a welcome modal - most of the time, it's the one thing every SaaS product has in common. 

After a warm welcome, you must ask them the right questions to onboard them accordingly later. For example, you could add a segmentation question on the welcome modal or create steps that would come right after the welcome modal. 

Apart from the personalized initial onboarding, there are still some areas you definitely need to excel in. These could count as general tips to keep in mind when designing your new user onboarding; however, they are very important practices that could improve the user onboarding experience single-handedly:

  • Keep it simple. Your users shouldn't think that they are dealing with a complex product. 
  • Be brief but to the point. Whether you are setting a user action or explaining a core functionality, try to convey your message with shorter sentences. 
  • Promote the huge benefits you offer. Try to see from the audience's view and convince them to keep using your product or service by showing them how you're different from your competitors. 
  • Make them reach the "Aha!" moment in no time. Seeing your product value is an essential element that significantly affects the user onboarding experience. 
  • Provide them with a personalized experience. Asking questions could only help you design a more suitable experience for them.

By using these techniques, you'll be one step closer to high customer satisfaction.  

3- Create the onboarding flow

In the last step, you should check out the possible patterns you could benefit from during onboarding. There are quite a few patterns you could choose from:

  • User onboarding emails, follow-up emails, or usage tip emails,
  • Product tours,
  • Onboarding checklists and progress bars,
  • Onboarding tooltips,
  • Self-segmentation,
  • Interactive guides,
  • Hotspots.

Starting from the beginning of the list, I'll briefly explain each pattern:

Onboarding emails are when you get to meet your potential customer for the first time; therefore, you only get one shot. It would be best if you focused on making a good impression. 

Product tours are great assistants that point out some of the essential features during the onboarding process.

Onboarding checklists and progress bars are a helping combination when it comes to onboarding because they track progress and show what's left to do. 

Onboarding tooltips help your page to look more organized and catch the attention of your users easily. 

Self-segmentation mainly deals with creating user persona and personalizing their onboarding according to it. 

Interactive guides (or onboarding guides) run to your aid when you know that showing would be more effective than telling.

Hotspots conduct the act of directing your users wherever you want to with ease. 

You should create a user onboarding flow by combining these patterns above with some basic onboarding tasks. 

During this process, you should always bear the goal of onboarding in mind: showing your product value to your new users and making them stay. 

To find out which applications are more suitable for your user onboarding flow, you might choose to do user testing, which consists of getting feedback from your users regarding their user onboarding experience. 

3 Examples to Get You Started 

Now that you've read the steps which will be helpful when onboarding new users, let's take a look at some examples.

1- Kairn

I like Kairn because it asks for all the right questions in the setup process to customize the user experience. 

Firstly, it offers a one-click signup form, which is an on-point practice. 

Following up, it puts forward a welcoming modal that is somewhat motivational. 

Then, it directs four questions to learn more about the users and personalize their experience. These questions are about the user's name, motives, expectations, and needs. 

After acquiring information, an empty state modal that lets users know that they'll soon start their in-product experience comes forward. 

This is the page that Kairn sets up for you, and you can find your tasks.

There are a few tasks regarding the product walkthrough; however, they are not interactive at all. Instead, they are explanatory and short.

Even though it doesn't benefit from onboarding tooltips and such, Kairn makes use of modal windows when it comes to exploring the sections on the left. 

2- Juphy

One of the best features of Juphy is that it uses hotstops and modal windows to draw the users' attention and maintain user engagement. 

After signing up, Juphy leads you to its main page, where it uses hotspots that are triggered once you hover over them.

Triggering the hotspot, a modal window with a gif that shows you the function appears.

As you keep on exploring the side menu on the left, more modal windows that explain the respective section come out.

3- Piktochart

Piktochart not only offers a great new user onboarding but also makes it easier for the users to understand the product itself in a short amount of time. 

After the signup process, it starts with a greeting message on a welcome modal.

Once you click on Create New, it presents the options available for you to choose.

After you select what you want to create, a page with templates appears, and you get to choose one of them. This is the presentation I chose to edit.

It might be small, but there is a Tour button that triggers the product tour on the left corner. After you click on it, the features get to be seen at the top, and there are gifs that show you how to perform that specific action in the middle with explanations right below. 


Each journey is important when it comes to the SaaS business. However, one of them stands out a bit more due to its ability in turning users into customers: new user onboarding. 

If you can ace the process of onboarding your new users, you'll soon see the effects of it, such as an increase in user retention and a decrease in churn rates

Those are two reasons among many to push you into changing or fixing your current user onboarding flow for your new users. 

Now that you know the importance of new users, focus on not losing them! 



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