How to Design an Engaging Client Onboarding Process –

Acquiring new users is no easy task. You spend money and a good deal of resources to reach your target audience. Traffic to your landing pages starts to gradually increase but not all traffic will convert. Which is why you simply cannot afford to lose new users as it can have a negative rippling effect throughout the organisation.

In other words, you need to make a lasting impression or else you risk losing new customers. Onboarding is a crucial step to growing your user base and increasing retention rates.

The Onboarding Process: Acquainting New Users

Before getting started, it’s important to first understand what the term actually means. Here is the definition provided by Wikipedia:

“Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.”

So what does this have to do with your website’s design?

Your users are certainly not your employees but the same principles apply here.

Onboarding is simply the process of familiarizing new users with your products. If users are confused at any step or unable to grasp how to do something, retention rates start to plummet.

The onboarding process can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Initial setup: Signing up for a social media account always follows a similar process. After filling out basic details about yourself, you are then asked to enter a description and upload a photo. This step absolutely needs to be effortless without requiring too much information.
  • Provide instructions: If you have a unique product, it is important to provide a thorough walk through on the different features and how to use them.
  • Offer an incentive: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provide instant gratification. There is always something new to look at when logging in each time, which helps to increase retention rates.

The following is a more detailed overview of creating an engaging onboarding process along with some examples.

Get Users Involved Early On

Make the onboarding process more engaging by getting users involved early on. Doing so is also a great way to provide a more personalized experience for your users.

Pinterest offers an example of this in action.

Immediately upon entering creating an account, the next page asks new users to select topics that interest them. This allows Pinterest to customize the home feed for each individual user based on what they select and also gets them involved right away.


This is just one example of how companies are changing their site’s design to have a more engaging onboarding process. The steps involved should be simple and straightforward. Requiring too many complicated steps or asking for too much information risks putting off your users.

Other examples include Twitter which asks new users to start immediately following people or WikiHow which asks users to share their knowledge on a range of topics.

Simplify the Design

The design of your site has a strong impact on engagement.

More specifically, the easier you make it for users to complete certain actions the more likely they are to continue using your products. Nothing is more frustrating than landing on a page filled with confusing instructions or clutter. Most online users now have little patience to figure out how to navigate a site so make efforts to simplify the design of your site.

Here is an example of a clean and simple design from WikiHow:


The page makes ample use of negative space (the areas surrounding an object) and only provides a few options for the user. Another area that can be simplified is the signup process. Asking for too much information on your forms can have a negative impact on conversions. The reason is simply because online users are often hesitant to give out more information than they need to. This article on 7 essential web design tips by web design perth pretty much sums up what you should keep in mind when trying to simplify your site’s design.

Here is an example from Twitter’s signup page which asks for a bare minimum of information:


Implement similar design practices to make your web pages more user friendly.

Provide Clear Instructions

Don’t assume that people will automatically know how your product works.

There was once a time where using a search engine or sending out an email was rife with confusion. Now we take such things for granted and we barely give them any thought. Most online users are now more tech savvy but providing clear steps and instructions is essential for any product.

For example, Pinterest displays the following text at the bottom of the page after creating a new account:


Even after clicking on a pin, Pinterest has implemented an interactive animation over the “Save” button to bring more attention to it:


These small touches are good examples of how to make it easy for new users to become more familiar with your product. Providing instructional videos is another great way to make the onboarding process more engaging. If you plan to create videos, keep them short and get straight to the point.

Always use clear language on your pages and avoid using any technical jargon or slang.

Provide a Sense of Progress

When following a series of steps or going through a purchase, new users should have a sense of where they are in the process. One solution is to include a simple progress bar on your pages that shows which steps were completed and what still needs to be done.

Here is an example that Amazon implements on his checkout page:


Customers are able to see the information they have already provided and what is left. Customers can also go back to previous steps to make any changes.

Asking for too much information on a page can be overwhelming for new users So minimize the number of actions on a page to prevent any confusion. The key is to design an interface that makes it effortless for users to take the next steps.

Here is an example from Square Cash:


When creating a new account, users are asked to provide basic information about themselves. But each step only requires a single action, greatly increasing the chance that users will continue.


Acquiring new users is the first task towards building a successful business.

But your job is still far from over. Onboarding is one of the most important parts of the process as it establishes a relationship with new users. Be sure to implement everything outlined here in your web design to improve the onboarding process and make it more engaging. Taking these steps will help to boost retention rates and build a more sustainable business.