The trick for user onboarding

By Tim Oldenhuis

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February 23, 2018 12:28 pm

Most companies that get a new hire will make the user go through an onboarding process. Getting to know the business, meeting new people, and learning the processes of the business. This process is vital to make sure that the new hire works to a high standard and easily slips into the business and starts working efficiently.

This process can be tedious if a process frequently gets interrupted by unnecessary questions and comments this process will frustrate a new hire. Every new hire would preferably have an easy to follow a process that will show them the steps and immerse them in the experience.

Just like having onboarding for employees, new users of any digital service should have an onboarding process. It helps new users understand how your service works as well as make users more committed to your service.

According to a study done by Andrew Chen most apps lose around 77% of their users in the first 3 days.

Many businesses invest in acquiring new users, but not many businesses will invest in retaining users, or even onboarding users. However, when businesses do, it quickly becomes clear.

If you are creating a service such as Duolingo, PayPal, Netflix, or any other service like this, it is important to make sure that your users find the onboarding process as easy possible.

Creating an Onboarding process

When looking at how users use your app. It is also important to think of the user as someone who has never seen an app before.

The experience of creating an onboarding process for new users needs to immerse them in the app and not interrupt their flow.

If the experience interrupts the user’s experience it will be very frustrating. Duolingo does this incredibly well. We will use them as an example.


When you first open up Duolingo it shows you a welcome screen.

DuoLingo Onboarding

This screen is very basic, has a great heading: “Learn a language for free. Forever.” that is very enticing.

This shows you which language people are learning, how many people are learning this language. It also talks about “I want to learn…”. This is very important because it already talks about the user and talks about accountability.

Afterward, we get to a screen where we can choose how many minutes per day we want to practice Dutch.

The great thing about this is that it shows a traditional aspect of the country the language is spoken in (A windmill). However, it also immediately asks you to create a daily goal. How many minutes per day would you like to commit to learning this language? You set a goal and thus make yourself accountable already.


After we set a goal is the first time you get asked to log in. You’ve already picked a language you want to learn, how much you want to spend time learning this language. Now is the first optional time that you get asked to actually log in to the website. You can even decide to click “Not now”.

We will press Not now and keep going.

You can already start learning Dutch/trying a placement test and we haven’t even had to sign up yet.

If we click on “Try a placement test” it will show a screen with questions that take about 5 minutes and will give us a head start.

We can already start learning the basics of Dutch. I’ve completed the questions, feel great about the fact I now know what “A boy, A man and A woman” is in Dutch. Dopamine started forming in my head and I am ready to take on the world!

After you completed a training and you decided how many minutes per day you want to practice, you get the prompt to create a profile.

All of this is a great reason to create a profile. It will save my progress and it again reaffirms to us that learning will be free. A great reason to create a profile, but again, we aren’t forced to log in yet, or to create a profile.

Again, you can opt to create a profile later.

We are able to continue, without making a profile. However, we can’t save our progress.

We personally feel that this is a great example of how onboarding should work on a website. The user gets to experience the app, isn’t intrusively ask about signing up, registering or giving any details and gets informed about the usability. The user also gets involved in the program and learns about why it should use the program.

In the next blog post, we will go over the benefits of having a great onboarding for apps. If you would like to understand more about websites you can read our blog post about the trends for 2018 over here. If you would like to have more examples of websites that have great onboarding, let us know in the comments below!

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