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What is product onboarding
Ashley Grant5/31/23 9:26 AM6 min read

What is Product onboarding? And How to Get It Right

Have you ever purchased a new toy or gadget and felt confused about how to use it? That's how some people feel when they first start using a new product or service. It’s why product onboarding is so important - it tells people how to use what you’ve just sold them!

Getting your product onboarding right is important for two reasons.

  1. It can improve customer satisfaction.
  2. It can increase sales.

In this post, we'll explain what product onboarding is and we’ll share some tips on how to do it well.

Product Onboarding vs. User Onboarding - Aren’t they the same?

While they are related, nope, they’re not the same thing.

Product onboarding teaches people how to use your product.

User onboarding gets them set up and familiar with the features of your software or digital tool,

Put another way, user onboarding may be part of your product onboarding sequence. Both are important aspects of helping your customers have a good experience with your product. However, they do involve different approaches.

4 Ways to Get Product Onboarding Right

1. Pre-Onboarding Preparation - What do you need to succeed?

There are a few key elements you need in place to make your product onboarding a success.

    • A deep understanding of your users - What are their goals? Needs? Pain points? These answers help you tailor your product onboarding to help them get what they want from your product.
    • Identify your product’s key features - What are the most important features of your product that users need to understand in order to use it correctly and effectively?
    • Clear and concise messaging - People don’t have time to read user manuals let alone long emails. Get to the point, avoid jargon, and just tell them what they need to know to use your product.

We’ll also add that your content should be engaging. Create things like:

  • Videos
  • Tutorials
  • Interactive guides

It’s important to create materials that you think will help your users learn how to use the product.

Finally, test and retest and tweak your product onboarding content. Ask customers for feedback on gaps in meeting their needs so you can create better materials where necessary.

2. The Importance of User-Friendly Design in Product Onboarding

User-friendly design is important for onboarding because it helps users understand how to use a product easily.

If a design is confusing or difficult to navigate, it can frustrate users and make them less likely to continue using the product. User-friendly design also makes the onboarding process more enjoyable and can help users feel more confident about using the product.

A few tips for user-friendly design:

  • Keep it simple
  • Use visuals
  • Be consistent
  • Allow users to skip steps and/or jump around as they see fit
  • Test and tweak as needed.

Examples of successful onboarding design include:

  1. Duolingo: Duolingo is a language learning app that uses a gamified onboarding process to help users learn how to use the app. The process is interactive, engaging, and easy to understand.
  2. Dropbox: Dropbox uses a simple onboarding process that guides users through the steps of creating an account, installing the app, and adding files. The process is streamlined and easy to navigate.
  3. Slack: Slack uses a conversational onboarding process that asks users questions about their preferences and then guides them through the setup process. The process is personalized and user-friendly.

3. Clear Communication is Key

Clear communication during product onboarding is important because it helps users understand how to use a product faster.

If instructions are unclear or confusing, they may not be able to figure it out. You want your users to feel confident and comfortable when onboarding products.

A few tips for better communication:

  • Use simple language - i.e. no jargon!
  • Be concise
  • Offer examples and visuals
  • Create opportunities for interactive learning
  • Ask if they have any questions

Examples of successful communication during product onboarding include:



Canva: Canva is a graphic design tool that uses clear, concise instructions and visuals to guide users through the design process. The onboarding process is interactive and engaging, making it easy for users to learn how to use the product.



Trello: Trello is a project management tool that uses simple language and clear instructions to guide users through the onboarding process. The process is broken down into small, manageable steps, making it easy for users to understand and complete.



Zoom: Zoom is a video conferencing tool that provides clear instructions and visuals to help users understand how to join a meeting and use the features of the product. The onboarding process is straightforward and user-friendly.

4. Feedback and Improvement

Feedback is important in improving the onboarding experience because it helps companies understand what users like and don't like about the product. By collecting feedback, companies can identify areas for improvement and make changes that will make the onboarding experience more enjoyable and effective for users.

A few tips for collecting feedback and incorporating it into the product onboarding process:

  • Ask for feedback and provide users with a simple way to give it to you - i.e. replying to emails and/or survey links
  • Be open to criticism
  • Analyze the feedback looking for patterns and areas to improve
  • Prioritize the changes to your product onboarding
  • Keep making changes and asking for more feedback as you see fit

Some companies that drive improvements based on feedback include:


Facebook: Facebook collects feedback from users on a regular basis and uses it to improve the user experience. For example, Facebook added a "Save Draft" feature to its post creation tool based on user feedback.


Airbnb: Airbnb collects feedback from hosts and guests to improve the booking process and overall experience. Based on feedback, Airbnb added a feature that allows guests to search for homes based on specific amenities.



Spotify: Spotify collects feedback from users on its product features and uses it to make improvements. For example, Spotify added a feature that allows users to customize their playlists based on the feedback received.

A Quick Recap

In this post we explored four ways to get product onboarding right.

The first way is pre-onboarding preparation, which involves understanding users' goals, identifying key product features, and using clear and concise messaging. It's also important to create engaging content and to continuously test and improve the onboarding experience.

The second way is to focus on user-friendly design, which makes it easy for users to understand how to use the product. This can be achieved by keeping it simple, using visuals, being consistent, and allowing users to skip steps.

The third way is clear communication, which helps users understand how to use the product faster. Clear communication involves using simple language, being concise, offering examples and visuals, creating opportunities for interactive learning, and asking if users have any questions.

The fourth way is feedback and improvement, which involves collecting feedback from users to improve the onboarding experience. Companies can collect feedback by asking for it, being open to criticism, analyzing the feedback, prioritizing changes, and continuously making improvements.

So where do you go from here?

We recommend looking at your current product onboarding process and seeing where you’re succeeding and where you fall short. If you don’t have a product onboarding process, we recommend creating one sooner rather than later.

The good news is you don’t have to go about this alone. Our onboarding experts are available and ready to help you create a product onboarding process that will help your users learn how to use your product faster. We’ll improve your customer satisfaction rates and reduce churn.

Sounds good? Click here to talk with us today!



Ashley Grant

Ashley Grant is a content creator currently based in Richmond, Ky. Ashley grew up in Tampa, and attended the University of South Florida. Go Bulls! When she isn’t writing and or hosting her Bloggy Friends Show podcast, she loves trying new foods and beverages, exploring the city she lives in, and traveling as much as possible. In addition to ghostwriting for several small businesses and freelance writing under her own name for a variety of websites, she blogs about her lifestyle, working from home, and much more at FamousAshleyGrant.