Dumping a new user into an empty dashboard is a sure way to make them close their browser tab and never come back. People trying out a new product need to be guided from the very start.
Here’s what a new Proposify user needs to do to win a proposal (the ultimate success metric):
And there are a few things that can go wrong during that process:
First, we tell the user the overall process instead of showing them.
Second, we assumed the user wants to send a test proposal first when they may prefered to send a real one to start.
Another problem here: Instead of guiding the user through how our software can benefit their sales process, we’re getting them hung up on the content and design of their proposal template.
Problems: The user sometimes wondered, “Wait, isn’t this just a test?”, “What do I choose for a due date?” or “Who is ‘Example Company’ and where will this send to?”
When the user went to send the proposal we made them verify their email first. Still a bit of friction there.
Most people want to send a test proposal to themselves first to see the process before sending a real proposal to a client. We were blurring the lines between a test and a real proposal instead of actually showing them how it all comes together.
We were eating up users’ mental energy by making them look through proposal templates and choose one instead of demonstrating the value of the product.
Many people who jumped into the editor were overwhelmed by how much you can do with it and then reached out to support with basic questions like, “How do I add a signature”? Apparently a lot of people don’t search your knowledge base or watch help videos when trying out a product. Go figure.
A light bulb moment came when we saw that Canva didn’t just show new users how to edit a sample document, instead the sample document contained visual instructions on how to edit it!
We knew we wanted to do this, so we set out to design a document template that walked our users through all the actions of the various tools in our software, like editing text, and adding fee tables, images, videos, and signatures — complete with animated gifs showing how to do it.
We were very careful to not introduce too much detail. Features like team metrics and integrations didn’t need to be communicated during the tour as those are value-add features that improve the product experience over time. Instead, we wanted to get the user to the “aha” moment of what it feels like to close a deal using our product — without the effort and time needed to close one for real.
This allowed us to place animated gifs of using the interface in the document and, more importantly, it keeps users focused on how to use the software instead of getting distracted by the contents of the proposal itself.
Aside: After looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes, I think we should tweak the messaging to reinforce that the user did sign up for a trial. A little pat on the back to acknowledge their accomplishment can go a long way.
If the user decides to skip the tutorial, we take them to the empty pipeline and then they can create a new proposal and/or choose a template from our gallery. But we always include a reminder for them to finish the tour.
Every feature includes a short how-to video, saving the user from having to scour our knowledge base for answers.
Finally, once they click the “Finish the Tour” button, they’ve completed the onboarding process and are considered “active”.
Using email to nurture new users as they begin to learn your product is an important element of onboarding, and we weren’t doing it as well as we could have.
empowering new users to get more value out of the product and sending targeted emails based on their behavior while using the product.
Then, we tested it out ourselves internally and showed our spouses, partners, and friends.
Finally, we sent it out to UserTesting.com and had some complete strangers walk through the onboarding, speaking their thoughts aloud.
By testing it on five subjects, we realized that the last step of checking email was confusing to most people, so we added a secondary button to complete the tutorial.