7 Awesome User Onboarding Experiences in SaaS Products

7 Awesome User Onboarding Experiences in SaaS Products

If you’re feeling in kind of a slump about how to create some awesome user onboarding moments in your first run, you’re in luck.

We’ve put together list of popular SaaS products with exceptional onboarding features and experiences.

That means you potentially get introduced to new, game-changing tools that can make a difference to your life plus you gain some inspiration on effective strategies for a successful SaaS of your own.

Let’s get right into it.

1. Slack

Slack is a productivity tool centered on team communication. It’s infinitely better than Skype for the job, especially if you have a distributed company.

There’s cloud storage for both conversations and shared files, different channels for different teams and a hashtag system for easy labeling and searching. The interface is pretty nifty and the smartphone app is beautifully designed.


What about the onboarding? It’s excellent.

After a comprehensive set up process that lets you invite people to your team, you get some well-designed guided tip tutorials with clear, compelling copy.

We love the small pulsing radio tip buttons that highlight important features. They do so in a way that’s stylish and impossible to ignore, but not obnoxious or intrusive.


By the time you’ve gone through the flow, there’s absolutely no question about whether or not you’re onboard. But just in case, Slackbot is always standing by and ready to help.

It’s a bit like Microsoft’s “Office Assistant” virtual helper (the paperclip character from older versions of Windows), but a lot less annoying.

Slackbot helps with any remaining setup, helps interactions with third-party integrated apps and also acts as a searchable personal notepad.

Try out Slack to see how they onboard new users for yourself. You won’t regret it.

2. Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is an online gateway for entrepreneurs and freelancers to come together in project-completing matrimony. It has over 7 million freelancers to choose from which is more than double its nearest competitor, oDesk.

We liked how Freelancer.com sets the expectations early on.

Nobody likes drudging through anything for an indefinite amount of time. That’s why loading bars are so important for any part of a user experience that lasts more than a few seconds.

The same applies to your onboarding. By letting people know what’s ahead, you set the expectation from the start. And that makes them more likely to follow through the entire process.


Another coolest thing about Freelancer.com is the guided tip tutorials that really stand out from the page. And whether you start the onboarding flow from the view of someone who’s hiring or someone who’s looking for work, it gets straight down to business.

By the time you finish the initial flow, you’ll either have applied for one of the listed jobs as a freelancer, or listed your job as someone seeking a freelancer.


Set the expectation and get right down to the value. Good job, Freelancer.

3. Pocket

Pocket is simply incredible.

It lets you save web pages to your PC or mobile device so you can read them later on when you’re sitting on a subway or anywhere else without any signal. (Unless you’re one of those lucky countries that has telephone signal in the subway… Not everyone does)

The first question for most users is: “how do you get content from the webpages into Pocket for later, offline consumption?


We’re just speculating here, but a few additions to the library is likely to be the “Aha!” moment for Pocket users.

The onboarding flow takes you step-by-step over the various methods of adding content in different ways. For the record, we used the iPhone version of the product.

It shows you how to add the extension for the mobile browser in addition to the extension for chrome or other desktop products.


After you’ve followed the steps, it brings you straight back into the on boarding flow to continue.

It’s truly masterful.

By the time you’re done, you’ve already started your library for offline reading later on. We love it.

4. Asana

Asana is an intricate project management tool that seeks to replace email as a primary means of communication between distributed teams.

The introduction video does an excellent job of explaining how the paradigm shift from email communication to something more succinct is a reason to pay attention. Why is that important?

Because it generates enough interest to see you through the onboarding flow. It gets you excited about the “why?”

Once the video is done, you’re met with the user interface.


Asana has created an onboarding process comprised of completing tasks within the task management interface.

It’s a kind of placeholder content that uses the SaaS product to introduce itself. This is an effective method, and it’s also kind of cool.

If you can use it, it’s worth a shot. Even if there are no My Little Ponies, it’s still pretty fun.

We’ve spoken before about the idea of delivering small wins to users, too. We all know that satisfying feeling of crossing things off our to-do lists. Working through these (as Asana does multiple times during the flow) really builds a sense of accomplishment, simultaneously teaching you how to use it.

And just then, right when you’re feeling so good about the new tool you’ve just found, the My Little Pony-style animation dances across the screen.


If we’re honest, we probably enjoyed the animations just a little bit too much and we also learned how to use the product properly, too.


5. Duolingo

Duolingo is awesome. It was designed by the same person behind the Captcha system that can be useful in some places, but isn’t really helpful in terms of conversions.

Duolingo is a tool that teaches people languages while simultaneously acting as an international language translator for the Internet.

If ever you’ve considered some kind of currency-based gamification for your SaaS, this one is definitely worth checking out for a little inspiration.


The onboarding flow is great, too. It’s another that capitalizes on the idea of introducing small wins early on.

Anyone who reaches the above homepage will be excited about learning a language. It’s what they’re there for. So why not help them with it in the first five minutes?

Literally, in less than five minutes, we could speak more Spanish than we could before we arrived.


After this quick and encouraging tutorial, Duolingo gets right down to business with its excellently designed interface that just begs for progress to be made through the language learning process.


6. Twitter

Twitter has a pretty interesting on boarding process. During an interview at the 2013 Growth Hacking Conference  Twitter’s head honcho for growth, Josh Elman, stated that upon analysis of whether Twitter users did not engage with the churned was when they didn’t follow 30 people.

This was their “Aha!” moment.


Consequently, Twitter made it part of the onboarding program to encourage users to add up to 40 friends, leaving little overhead because they may not like some of the suggestions.

It starts by letting users choose the areas that interest them, making it more likely that the suggestions will be relevant.


You’ll note that Twitter doesn’t force its users to complete this step. There’s a skip button for the process at the bottom, but the necessary steps to onboard are heavily encouraged.

This is known as “unobtrusive guidance”. You’re not forced to do anything; the product just helps you set up your account and guides you to their “Aha!” moment at the same time.

In the case of Twitter, it’s when you’ll see the list of updates from all your friends and topics you have added during that step.


7. Optimizely

Finally comes Optimizely. It starts off by pointing you in the right direction to ensure you’re on the right operating system and device. Pretty straightforward, but the iconography is really pleasing on the eye.

Next, the tried and tested guided tip overlays make another appearance.

In this case, they show you the target website that’s just begging to be optimized and show you what you can do to edit the various elements.


But the best bit actually comes next.


The HTML editing tool lets you create edited versions of the target page right into the interface. It’s one of those ”Wow!” moments that you never quite forget and that definitely plays a significant role to onboard you.


We suspect the Optimizely team knows they’re onto something with this feature. The ability to edit the homepage right in the interface is very cool.

With that identified, the onboarding process guides people directly to it and lets people play around with different ideas straightaway.


Venturing around to different SaaS products is great for inspiration.

It’s interesting to see the different user boarding experiences. And interesting to see how the guided tip tutorial pattern is very popular. And there’s a good reason for that.

It’s because it’s very effective.

If you’re thinking about how to create your user onboarding experience and needs some inspiration, register with the featured products experience the great job they’ve done for yourself.

It’s interesting to see different onboarding patterns and see which might work with your own to create new ideas on how to guide your customers to your product’s “Aha!” moment. If you still don’t know what is your “Aha!” moment is, you should go and read this article on how to find it.

If you know any other tools with a great onboarding experience you found inspiring, let us know in the comments below!