6 most common user onboarding mistakes

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To bring the desired “wow!” factor to the user by using user onboarding, you shouldn’t underestimate the smallest details. Even maybe insignificant flaws can make a bad impression, so if you are fully serious with your application or website, and don’t want to ruin a relationship with the user right in the beginning, you should avoid these mistakes at all costs.

1.  Unfamiliarity with the target audience

If you don’t know your potential users from the start, it certainly will be reflected in the whole design of your app or website.

To a user experience that doesn’t match the habits and expectations of the target audience won’t help even a perfectly designed onboarding. The onboarding task is to direct users to meet their needs, not to teach them to use an app, which should have functioned in a whole different way according to their expectations and habits.


You can gain information about your targeted users through:

  • A self-made market research
  • An user survey
  • A regular analysis of user data
  • Feedback

2. Disinterest in feedback

Feedback helps you to recognize the preferences of existing users, and identify specific flaws in your app or website. Since many creators think that if they can work with the app, others can do it right away too, collecting feedback is irrelevant to them, and that’s a huge mistake.

Feedback is not any kind of threat, but rather the opposite, it offers a real experience of using your digital product. That means it helps to find hidden flaws, which you weren’t able to find through the whole development phase.


You can request feedback from your users at any time, for example, immediately after welcoming, just like the Bynder service does. Their collecting of feedback is built right into the onboarding guide. A simple form, the task of which is to find out the usefulness of the guide itself, will be displayed as soon as it is finished.


Source: bynder.com

A large percentage of the app creators ask their users for feedback after a certain period of time, but much effective will be if you’ll ask for feedback based on a specific situation. For example, right after ending the guide or after the first conversion.

How does a feedback form look like if the user has gone through the onboarding process, and is no longer returning to the application?

In this case, feedback (triggering the time interval) would ask the user by email with how many stars they would rate the application. However, this fact would not be so beneficial for you.

But feedback from the context would ask the user about specific things, for example, about why they’ve stopped using the app. A form like this will give you much more useful information.

The optimal solution is a combination of both. First, ask the user to rate you with stars, because it’s quick and easy – ask for a detailed verbal rating afterwards. That’s exactly what Booking or Foursquare is doing; it also uses emoji instead of stars to express the experience of users.


Two-level feedback in Foursquare – users first express their experience through emoji, and then get the opportunity to write about it in more detail.

3. Large amount of input information

This problem often occurs in onboarding that is also present during the registration process, in addition to the initial interaction. And believe that the registration form with lots of boxes is the last thing that makes the new user happy when they start using the application for the first time.

Instead of asking a confused user on their name, e-mail, telephone number, date of birth, profession, hobbies or favorite movies, ask just for the basic information.

After all, everything else besides the name is in the initial user onboarding phase useless.

The 2006 study showed that talking to users while using their first name positively increases their interest, and strengthens motivation.


A great example of how to do it right is LinkedIn. A personal profile on this social network contains a huge amount of data, and if the service asked for all of them at once, it wouldn’t be a success at all.  But LinkedIn asks for them gradually, which seems less bothering.

4. Missing interaction

As mentioned above, the initial onboard user’s task is to familiarize users with key application features. Recognizing new opportunities is actually a form of learning, at the end of which users should expect a reward.


So a good user onboarding shouldn’t only be simple and short, but should also provide the user with interaction and motivation, for example, in the form of an indicator to display the progress. When the user goes through the introductory tutorial and learns to master the basic features, it’s a good reason for the reward, right?

Rewarding the user after finishing the process is a nice gesture, which causes a positive emotion. It can even strengthen loyalty towards your brand. It doesn’t have to be any kind of a gift; it’s enough to praise them. That’s exactly what Evernote does.


5.  When measurement and testing are replaced by intuition

There is no tendency for considering the first suggested solution right away as the perfect one. This applies to individual phases of website creation, applications (such as wireframe, graphics, and text creation), but also for creating a user onboarding guide.

It’s obvious that you should rely on data from the very beginning, but we recommend you to continue measuring and testing even when the site or app is fully launched.


There are many platforms that can help you with all this measuring, analyzing and testing. YesElf, for example, doesn’t only create guides, but also provides all the necessary relevant metrics. Thanks to them, you can evaluate the user onboarding process and optimize it.

Onboarding process shouldn’t be based on the assumptions of the UX designer, but on the real users’ habits. It’s possible to also create other onboarding versions from the results, and then you can compare them in the A / B test.

6. Onboarding can’t be skipped

The option to skip the guide should be a regular part of every user onboarding for a number of reasons. For example, users who are already familiar with your app don’t need to become oriented with it again. The onboard process can also bother people who are simply impatient, and it’s easier for them to learn by trial and error.


Therefore, when designing a user onboarding, you shouldn’t forget that all of these users want to get to the main functions immediately after they start the application. It means they take onboarding rather as an obstacle that’s holding up them unnecessarily.

However, it is necessary to think that even such users may need help. After skipping the onboarding process, you should offer them the opportunity to get back to it, for example from the context menu, just like YesElf does.


The user can always get back to the Yeself guide through the context menu.


This list of mistakes is not complete, because there are many more that can occur in each user onboarding. You can still avoid most of them by thorough analysis of your target users. It’s not enough to be interested in them only before creating user onboarding, but also after it’s completed. Ask for the opinions of existing users, but don’t overdo it. The more information you request from them at once, the less you actually get.

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