Tent Talks Featuring Haley Stracher: How to Seamlessly Onboard Users to Your Product, Application, or Service

Tent Talks Featuring Haley Stracher: How to Seamlessly Onboard Users to Your Product, Application, or Service
Haley Stracher
Founder & CEO
Iris Design Collective
Haley Stracher is the founder of Iris Design Collaborative, and an expert designer and marketing strategist. ? Haley loves playing with her young son, yoga and being outdoors.

On Monday, November 7th at 5:00pm Central, Haley Stracher joins us for a live Q&A session: “How to Seamlessly Onboard Users to Your Product, Application, or Service.”

Session Notes

Haley Stracher shared her expertise on user onboarding, emphasizing the criticality of the initial user experience. Her practical, three-step method for effective onboarding—introduction, cognitive load management, and retention through rewards—highlights the significance of a user’s first interaction with a product. She also tackled common onboarding mistakes, the importance of accessibility, and shared a success story to illustrate her points.

Effective Onboarding Steps:

  • Introduction:
    • Emphasize the product’s benefits.
    • Utilize tutorials, carousels, and videos for user engagement.
  • Cognitive Load:
    • Limit tasks to three to avoid overwhelming users.
    • Too many tasks without rewards can deter users.
  • Retention:
    • Reward users after completing tasks for serotonin boost and retention.
    • Simple gestures of recognition can significantly impact user satisfaction.

Common Onboarding Mistakes:

  • Asking Too Many Questions:
    • Unnecessary questions lead to false data and user drop-off.
    • Explaining the purpose of data collection can enhance trust and compliance.
  • Neglecting Analytics and User Feedback:
    • Analytics reveal drop-off points indicating issues.
    • User interviews provide insights to improve the onboarding process.

Creating Memorable First User Experiences:

  • Branding and Visuals:
    • Align visuals with company’s mission and identity.
    • Brand identity impacts user’s first impression significantly.
  • Copywriting:
    • Clear, error-free, and personable copy is as crucial as visuals.

Accessibility in Onboarding:

  • Standard Practice:
    • Accessibility is no longer optional but a standard expectation.
    • Contrast checkers, font sizes, and inclusivity in gender options are critical.
  • Inclusive Design:
    • Consider target audience characteristics, like age, in design decisions.

Success Story in Improved Onboarding:

  • Problem Identification:
    • Diverse user personas require different onboarding paths.
    • Understanding user context is key to providing value.
  • Solution Implementation:
    • A bifurcated onboarding approach tailored to user location (home/store).
    • Algorithmic guesses of warranty expiry provided a “small win” for at-home users.

Notable Quotes from Haley Stracher:

  • “If you do too much and don’t reward users, they’re going to feel like it never ends.”
  • “Explain why at every juncture—it can be really helpful and useful.”
  • “Design is always an iterative process. It’s never done.”
  • “Accessibility has become more of a standard than a nice to have.”
  • “Understanding your users a little bit better can solve onboarding problems by making a fork in the road.”

Session Transcript

[00:00:35] Chicago Camps: You have a three step method for effective onboarding. Could you walk us through these steps and explain why each is critical?

[00:00:42] Haley Stracher: Onboarding is one of the biggest questions, hassles, guesses that you make in your product. And it’s your user’s first experience. If you’ve ever started to do something and set something up and you’re already annoyed, the chances of you continuing to use it are…

[00:01:01] The three step process that I have and advise a lot of people, designers and founders alike, to use are these three things. And I know it sounds super simple and it totally is. Number one is an introduction. Have you explained to your users what your platform is about? Your platform, whether you’re product managing it or designing it or founding it, but do they know the real benefits of actually coming into the platform?

[00:01:28] Do they understand or did they just click a button because they were curious? That can be done through tutorials, onboarding carousels, great videos to introduce things. Step two is, I call it cognitive load. You can only do three things and then you’re tapped. So what three things can your users do to feel like, wow, this app was really cool.

[00:01:51] This platform was really cool and only ask them to do those three things. This is the hardest and most difficult part of creating that onboarding experience, but it is truly the most important because do too much and you don’t reward them for doing those three things. They’re going to be like, Oh my gosh, this never ends.

[00:02:11] How many more jobs do I need to do to get this thing set up? And the third tip and takeaway in this magic formula is retention. At the end of those three things, did you tell your users and your experience, like, great job? Did you give them a thumbs up? Did you give them a green checkmark? Did you give them like a flying unicorn across the screen?

[00:02:33] And I’m not even kidding you, Asana has that. And it’s led to amazing user retention. So it doesn’t need to be a complicated badge or point program. It just needs to be something that gives them that little like serotonin boost when you like clean the kitchen, you’re like, wow, my kitchen’s clean. Cool. And so if you have those three things, introduction, limiting them to three tasks on their first experience, and some type of reward and serotonin boost at the end of that onboarding experience, I have found no matter what industry your platform is in, you’re going to have some type of success.

[00:03:09] You can always improve on that success, but. It’s going to be a great starting point for you. A lot of people say you have to be in there and you got to add all these things and algorithm will adjust. And, yeah, that’s great if someone comes in five times and does all of that. But the truth is, they’re gonna come in one time and decide if they’re coming in a second time.

[00:03:28] If you get them in there a second time, they’re very likely to come in three plus times. So all you need, what is that small little thing that they can say, I did this thing today. If we think about all the stuff we do in our lives and all the things we’re bombarded with, really just making people feel good and happy and solving whatever they came in there for, even if it doesn’t solve the major problem, maybe it just gives them a meditation, one little breathing exercise.

[00:03:55] And I’m like, wow, I feel a little better. Cool. That’s how Calm did it. And I know they have a very successful platform.

[00:04:01] Chicago Camps: What are some of the most common mistakes companies make when developing their user onboarding process and how can they be avoided?

[00:04:08] Haley Stracher: I would definitely say asking a lot of questions is a big one.

[00:04:13] But, there are also places that do ask a lot of questions, the Noom app is a good example, that are very successful, I think it’s about explaining why you’re asking those questions. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, I know I have. I download an app or a website and I’m just not sure about it.

[00:04:32] So I put in a fake name, I’ve put in a fake birthday. I’m like, whatever. And so then you’re going to have data that isn’t really correct. And you’re going to have wrong emails. You’re not going to be able to follow up with people. With the rise of Web 3 and all of these privacy concerns, it’s so important to ask what you need and only what you need.

[00:04:53] from them and explain why you need it. If you need my birthday because you need to know my age because it’s a health app and it will dictate how the personalized program is given to me, then okay, got it. That makes sense. If I put in the wrong age, I’m going to get a program that is not correct. Making sure that you explain why at every juncture can be really helpful and useful.

[00:05:19] That can even be with like a little info icon. It doesn’t have to be a big paragraph it could be something designed really small and sleek and nice. Be a trustworthy source and not okay now I’ve answered 25 questions and at the end of this I just have some type of paywall and I didn’t really get anything from it So this important takeaway is some people think they need their onboarding to be perfect to push it out.

[00:05:44] And if you sit there and try to make your onboarding perfect without gathering user interviews or analytics, you’re just going to be spinning your wheels and probably wasting a lot of time and money. If you do push it out, it’s okay, it’s not perfect, it’s cool. I would say the role of analytics is really important along with user interviews because the analytics will tell you where the drop offs are.

[00:06:06] Why aren’t people entering in their credit card? Why are people stopping at the gender? Maybe they feel like sensitive about that particular question. But you won’t know why until you actually talk to them. So what you want to do is, in the analytics, look for the drop offs. If you have a drop off in onboarding, that obviously means you have an onboarding issue.

[00:06:25] But if you have drop offs after the third time of signing in, that means you have a customer retention issue. That could mean solutions like gamification and all of that other good stuff. Maybe they’re just not reaping the rewards soon enough. The thing we talked about, they didn’t get their small win to be able to keep coming back over and over again.

[00:06:43] And so taking those analytics, seeing the drop off, where is it? And then conducting small, short user interviews. If it’s an onboarding, just ask them, Hey, can you take five minutes to go through this 10 question thing and tell me why you felt a certain way at certain parts and then using that together can just really improve everything.

[00:07:05] And you keep doing that iteratively. Design is always an iterative process. It’s never, okay, I launched it. I’m done. I’m good. It’s, it’s all fine.

[00:07:13] Chicago Camps: You’ve spoken about creating an amazing first user experience. What elements contribute to making the initial interaction memorable and engaging for users?

[00:07:24] Haley Stracher: Engaging and memorable is the first user experience. I think it is a mix of. Really branded and amazing visuals that align with your mission. For example, if you’re a, if you’re a pet care company, you might have like happy dogs and cats, but if you’re maybe something more serious or corporate like security company, that would feel a little weird and strange.

[00:07:48] So having a first impression of your brand identity is really important because you don’t want to be, you don’t want to be too playful or too serious. You want to find whatever, wherever your company falls, because if you look at big companies like Airbnb, Robinhood, you come to their websites and you have a feeling for their company.

[00:08:07] First impressions are a big deal when it comes to brand identity. That and great, great copy. You see the visuals. You’re like, okay, I’m getting the vibe and going to Airbnb. I’m getting my luxury weekend getaway with my partner and if there are typos, spelling mistakes, if they’re not talking to you like a real person, please add seven locations.

[00:08:32] It’s not nearly as friendly as… All right, time to add some places so your tone of voice throughout the app and platform are really, I would say, just as important as the visuals paired together, you’ve got a great first impression.

[00:08:46] Chicago Camps: How important is it to consider accessibility in the user onboarding process? Do you have any tips for making onboarding inclusive to all users?

[00:08:56] Haley Stracher: Accessibility has become more of a standard than nice to have. Previously, it was like, Oh, if you’re a health app, you need it to be accessible. There’s different disabilities or colorblindness, but now accessibility is a complete and total standard.

[00:09:12] There’s a contrast checker. I think that’s the first place you start. You say, hey, are all my buttons passing the contrast checker so that people 60, 70 plus can see it? People with different colorblindness can see it? And designing with your target audience in mind is also part of accessibility. If my target audience is a little older, is the font big enough?

[00:09:36] I can’t have six, seven, eight point font. They’re gonna be zooming in and then we’re not gonna know where the back button went. And so really doing a contrast checker, font size, stuff like that is super, super critical for accessibility for all apps, no matter what industry you’re in. And even younger people like bigger font too.

[00:09:57] Everybody likes to be able to read stuff easily. Inclusivity does, I think, fall under that as well, which has been another big trend that I’ve seen is that a lot of questions about gender are either skipped or have an additional field. So like just stuff like. Trying to be considerate.

[00:10:15] Chicago Camps: Could you share a success story where improved onboarding significantly impacted user attention or customer satisfaction?

[00:10:23] Haley Stracher: I think it’s funny when you start talking to people about the application. If you ask somebody, Hey, how do people get to this app? How do they find it? What do they do once they’re in it? You get a lot of information about what they’re doing right now. So I was working with a mentee who had an app that stores warranty information.

[00:10:43] So if you got a new microwave or whatever, you put the warranty information inside of the app and it tells you when the warranty expired, which is amazing. How many times does an appliance or a laptop break and you go in and they’re like, yeah, your AppleCare expired six years ago and you’re like, cool, awesome, I guess I have to pay out of pocket for everything.

[00:11:01] And so wouldn’t it be nice knowing your warranty expires, you could either renew it or find maybe a better appliance that breaks. What they found was, you need the receipt for them to actually know when the warranty did expire. They had some people at Home Depot kind of signing people up, at which point you would have the receipt, because you just bought the microwave.

[00:11:21] But for the people at Home Depot, they did not have their receipt, so they were experiencing all this frustration. With the onboarding, they could not get through it and they didn’t find value in the app. In this session, we identified the issue, which is the people at home weren’t getting the same value as the people stepping out of Home Depot at the microwave.

[00:11:39] And we created an alternative onboarding path. So one of the very first questions to ask you is, Hey, where are you? Are you at home or are you at an actual appliance store? And if you say you’re at home, we gave that user a different small win. Then the person inside of the store so that they could then get their small win, shop for appliances, get some rewards, add their appliances in, and then later, they could say, yeah, this microwave’s from 2018, and the app could actually, through its algorithm, guess what the warranty is based on the brand and the year that you bought it, and it might Not be exact, but it’s around the time that you, that it might’ve expired.

[00:12:24] And that’s better than not even knowing when you’re, when your warranty expired. So they found a lot of value out of that, whereas I think the original hypothesis was that we needed to know the exact day and it was debunked through going through those user flows and understanding the users a little bit better.

[00:12:42] That was a really cool way to be able to solve onboarding problem by making like a fork in the road because you might have more than one user persona and more than one problem that you’re solving and that’s totally okay.


Event Details
How to Seamlessly Onboard Users to Your Product, Application, or Service
November 7, 2023
5:00 pm
November 7, 2023
6:00 pm
Tent Talks Featuring Haley Stracher: How to Seamlessly Onboard Users to Your Product, Application, or Service On Tuesday, November 7th at 5:00pm Central, Haley Stracher joins us for a live Q&A session: “How to Seamlessly Onboard Users to Your Product,...
November 2023