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Onboarding Tours - How to Create Them & 4 Examples

In this article, we will discuss what onboarding tours are, why you need them, what some good examples are, and how you can create your own onboarding tours.
Written by
Aysenur Zaza
Published on
February 22, 2023

Onboarding tours or product walkthroughs introduce first-time users to an app or a product, how it operates, and lend them a helping hand to realize the value of your product. Whether a simple or complex tool, a successful onboarding tour help users engage with the product easily and increases long-term retention and product adoption. In this article, you will find how to utilize user checklists, guides, tooltips, how to make an impression with onboarding, and see some of the best examples out there.


  • User onboarding tours are interactive or linear product walkthroughs designed to introduce users to the fundamentals of a product and assist them to a point where they experience the value of a product or app, encouraging them to take meaningful actions.
  • User checklists, in-app messages, product analytics tools, hotspots, and guides provide the necessary information and additional tips for users to complete an onboarding tour successfully.
  • With comprehensive onboarding tours, you can reinforce touchpoints, drive users to activation faster, offer step-by-step guides and prove the value of your product or app.
  • To create unique and user-driven onboarding tours, you can choose in-house development, low-code plugins, or no-code tools.

What Are Onboarding Tours?

Onboarding tours are in-product interactive walkthroughs or linear sequences that guide first-time users to discover the proposed value of your product and introduce its core features to help users complete key actions as quickly as possible. These tours include multiple steps and create a holistic user journey by showing pop-up modals, tooltips, guides, checklists, and hotspots.

Successful onboarding flows get users to their "aha! moment" and show them the core benefits of the product and how they can achieve them.

Why do you need onboarding tours?

Onboarding tours provide an invaluable contextual onboarding experience for users. They can experience the product in real-time in relation to other onboarding elements and core functionalities they will encounter once the onboarding process is completed. 

Let's look at how first-time users can benefit from project walkthroughs or onboarding tours:

➡️ Reinforce touchpoints

It is very common for people to sign up and forget about signing up later. That is why sending an activation link or code within the first week is not usually enough. In-product guides are very helpful in capturing prospective users' attention and showing them the power of your product. With a user onboarding flow, you can teach new users how to improve their product experience and minimize their need for external help.

➡️ Better product adoption

The goal of product walkthroughs is to help users discover your core value proposition and guide them through their activation moment. This moment is when users see how the product will solve their problems and improve their business or life. Therefore, when designing a user onboarding process, you must consider that if it takes too long for a user to realize your value, their attention will shift elsewhere (namely, to your competitors).

To accomplish an amazing onboarding experience, keep it short and sweet. Do not overwhelm the users with details or make it too general. Include fundamentals of your product, provide some actionable tips and use clear language; the rest is on the user and data will show you whether you nailed the process or not.

➡️ Offer step-by-step guides

If you have a complex tool, linear onboarding will not be enough. The user needs to see the product in action with a contextual onboarding experience. Segmenting users into different categories can help personalize their user onboarding experience and you can add a "skip" or "remind me later" button to make sure that every user learns at their own pace. Omitting irrelevant information and focusing on essential product features makes it easier for the user to complete mandatory steps without being overwhelmed.

4 Onboarding Tour Examples

1- Slack

One of the favorite user onboarding examples comes from Slack. Achieving the goal of onboarding and mastering simplicity, Slack's product experience with its app guide and interactive elements provides valuable experiences in minutes for users.

onboarding tour slack

With a clean design and easy-to-follow steps, Slack motivates users to take meaningful action while educating them on using the product's features effectively. Its empty states and friendly chatbot, Slackbot. Cleverly presenting its core value, i.e., messaging, with a chatbot allows using the product tour to experience the app in action.

onboarding tours slack

While the chatbot assists the user in navigating the app, the tooltips walkthrough the fundamentals and the entire process cuts to the chase. This minimal and highly-functional user onboarding stands out among hundreds of onboarding flows because rather than exhausting users with an overcrowded onboarding guide, its UI familiarizes users with prominent features and help them build momentum in their workflow—and as their copy suggests, Slack is "where work happens."

2- Canva

canva onboarding tour

To start onboarding users, Canva motivates users to choose a category that fits them best so their onboarding experience can be shaped according to their needs. After this mandatory step, the product tour suggests different options based on the user's choice. If you are a small business owner or team member, you are directed to invite your teammates.

Notice that while the initial step is required to start the onboarding process, the second step includes a "Maybe Later" button, giving the user the option to navigate their user journey. Frustrating users with unnecessary required steps (especially when they do not meet their needs or solve their problems) will not help you with user retention; on the contrary, users may take this discussion online and spread negative word-of-mouth about your company.

Therefore, you should always act in the best interest of your users, not yourself

canva onboarding tours

If you choose to create a team and invite team members, you can complete the entire process with a few clicks—which ensures that you do not ask for unnecessary information from the user. Then, Canva triggers another modal where you are asked to join their newsletter.

onboarding tour canva

This additional step allows Canva to engage the user outside their app or website, taking the connection further. 

3- Duolingo

First impressions are everything. This is when you greet a user for the first time, introduce your core functions, initiate the initial product flow and kickstart your user onboarding process. For most businesses, this stage is a sink or swim situation. This is because without an amazing onboarding sequence, you cannot expect users to stay.

Duolingo's successful onboarding tour is truly one-of-a-kind and gets the job done perfectly.

First of all, its choose-your-own-adventure-style product tour supported by questions in a modal window personalizes the onboarding flow right off the bat. Based on your answers, Duolingo proposes different paths, or adventures, for your language learning journey. 

duolingo onboarding tour

Shaping the onboarding flow and product experience based on the user and keeping them engaged with contextual activities makes Duolingo stand out. Not only does it establish an immediate connection between the user and app, but also lets the user experience what the app's core functions look like and improve their journey in real-time. 

Instead of presenting standard onboarding content within a limited linear onboarding sequence, Duolingo supports users to take meaningful actions that will prove the value of the app in a matter of minutes. Its product journey triggers an ongoing product adoption that benefits the users in the long run.

In other words, Duolingo's product tour system equips the user with the necessary tools and helpful information and tailors the whole experience as a persona-based onboarding approach to keep key features and helpful content ready for future use.

The language learning app's onboarding system works well because it boosts user retention by visibly showing the progress a user makes and encourages them to move to the next action.

onboarding tour duolingo

4- Pinterest

pinterest onboarding tour

Pinterest's product tour is everything you could ask for in a user onboarding experience that focuses on delivering value right from the first step. The interactive guide takes the first-time user from the starting point. Similar to onboarding users with Duolingo, it personalizes the user experience with questions related to the user, such as location, language, age, gender, etc., with a persona-based onboarding sequence.

onboarding tour pinterest

Once the algorithm analyzes your data, you are asked to choose five different interests which define the outlook of your dashboard on the app. This in-app action then curates a personal feed to keep you spending more time on the app.

user onboarding tour pinterest

Personalizing the onboarding guide based on preferences and simple questions, Pinterest ditches the linear onboarding system to drive higher user activation rates. With a complete onboarding tour and short duration, Pinterest catches the attention of users and keeps them engaged without asking for unnecessary information that will not contribute to (or improve) the user's product experience.

pinterest user onboarding tour

To maximize the time a user spends on the product, Pinterest advises users to download its app and increases customer retention. The QR code makes the downloading simple and eliminates any friction that might deter the user from using the app. 

How to Create Your Own Onboarding Tours

Designing onboarding guides, testing a wide range of visual designs and analyzing user feedback... There are multiple layers to onboarding tours and you need a versatile team to ensure customer success. When working on product tours, there are three possible routes you can take:

1- In-house Development 

In-house development is where you create all the onboarding elements, including visual designs, onboarding content, testing user personas, and more from scratch with developers. Basically, you work with the developers in your company and do not get any external help. You are in charge of the list of tasks and manage the entire process according to your business purposes.

One advantage of choosing an in-house development method is that there is an opportunity to work with people who are already familiar with your company's culture. This makes working on your current product so much easier as communication channels are already at hand and you can cut the email sequences or slow correspondence. In-house development is great for creating clean designs and transitions to leave a positive first impression.

2- Low-code Plugins

Low-code plugins work similarly to drag-and-drop builders, except developers use these plugins to design interfaces and complete applications to provide the best user experience possible. Instead of depending on hundred lines of code, low-code plugins automate workflows, UIs, and allows you to recycle the components and modules you've built before.  

Because teams are expected to deliver an increasing amount of projects over a relatively limited period of time, low-code plugins have become popular over the years. By getting rid of repetitive tasks like code management and complex building process, these plugins help you create an entire onboarding process with a clean design and simple tasks for users.

3- No-code Tools

If you've been in the software business for some time, you probably heard that no-code is the future.

And it is true.

According to Zapier, 90% of no-code users believe that their company has been able to grow faster, after employing no-code tools. 

Take low-code plugins to the next level and there you have:

No-code tools to build incredible user onboarding experiences and interactive product tours.

No-code tools, as the name suggests, do not use coding at all. Instead of building an app experience from scratch, no-code tools let you use built-in graphical interfaces and drag-and-drop editors to design an app or a product. It is a direct alternative to traditional software development and especially for businesses that don't have the technical skills to write codes and create applications.

Because no-code tools do not require additional skills, creating an entire onboarding process for users is much more scalable and meets the minimum viable onboarding criteria with less effort. In addition, with no-code, you can store and manage data faster which is essential for segmenting users to fine-tune user onboarding experiences based on their needs.

For example,Appcues provides complete onboarding tours with a no-code approach.

appcues onboarding tour

Its builder helps you build workflows and build on already existing elements to improve the user journey. In addition, you can segment users into groups based on the actions they took or you want them to take. Enabling you to see how the product tour looks for users, Appcues' no-code onboarding tour breaks down the user journey into action-driven steps and turns new customers into active users. 

Similarly, UserGuiding helps you create onboarding checklists, guides, hotspots, tooltips and more with a few clicks without writing a single line of code. Highlighting key actions and directing users with the help of interactive guides, UserGuiding's no-code interface is a lifesaver for businesses that aim to create product tours and a user onboarding process.

userguiding onboarding tour

With UserGuiding's interactive product walkthrough builder, you can showcase and explain the function of the product features without struggling to streamline the process. With a wide range of designs and styles, you can create custom interactive guides for onboarding users and introducing the core value proposition. 

Final Words

Knowing how successful onboarding tours increase long-term engagement and drive users to activation faster. Investing in product analytics tools, product tour development will turn first-time users into loyal customers. Therefore, it is important to test and collect feedback to adjust your onboarding tours to align yourself with user interests.


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