5 User Onboarding Practices we’ve Learnt from McDonald’s

5 User Onboarding Practices we’ve Learnt from McDonald’s

McDonald’s, previously famous for creating diverse fast food items, is also famous at providing certain things other than just food. It has been consistently perfecting its recipe into becoming a world renowned fast food chain that provides value to its customers through implementation of some of the best user onboarding practices ever.

Recently, consumers ranked McDonald’s as Number 1 among quick-service restaurants for providing ‘fast service’, ‘good value’ and for being located at ‘very convenient locations’.

Let’s learn from McDonald’s 5 user onboarding tactics to get a grasp on how McDonald’s has been so successful all over the globe.

1. Make It Easy To Get Value

The best thing about a good user onboarding process is that it doesn’t feel like a process. As an experienced product designer puts it:

“When you get the onboarding process right, what happens is the boundary between trying out a product and using it disappears.”

McDonald’s has cleverly made it easy for customers to get value by providing carefully designed menus for different types of customer groups. Be it Breakfast, burgers, beverages, or desserts – everything is clear on the menu, making it easier for customers to make a choice.


The fact is: people will abandon your product if you make it appear too complicated. McDonalds’ comprehensive, yet simplistic menus help users figure out what they want.

2. Save People Time

Time is money, and the majority of people cannot afford to lose any of it. Time plays a vital role in a user onboarding process. The formula is simple: if it takes up a lot of user’s time to get onboard, you stand a chance of abandonment. On the other hand, if you simplify the process and speed things up for them, they’ll have a better experience overall.

Let’s look at cashiers at McDonald’s and how they facilitate customers. For instance, you might have noticed how a cashier calls out to the next customer in line as soon as they have taken the order of the current one. Rather than waiting for a customer to move up in line and engage the cashier, the cashier – as soon as he or she is free – draws the attention of the customer. This practice speeds up the user onboarding process and that saves them time.

Thus, whenever designing a user onboarding flow, always remember that you have to step forward and tell the user what to do – don’t leave them hanging around.

An ideal user onboarding process for a website should be likened to holding the hand of a customer and guiding them from the first step to the last – up to the point where they get the value out of the product or service they want.

3. Welcome Your Customer Properly

One of the most important aspects of any user onboarding process is to make your customer feel welcome. This is true regardless of whether the onboarding involves a SaaS website, or a physical store such as McDonald’s.

Recall the way a cashier greets the customer, welcoming them and introducing him or herself. A typical greeting at McDonald’s is something like:

“Good Morning Sir/Ma’am. Welcome to McDonald’s! May I take your order?”


This immediately has an effect of making the customer feel comfortable with the cashier – which is really important when a cashier proposes additional sauces, deserts or upsize deals. A person is more likely to listen to you and accept your suggestions if they feel comfortable with you – McDonald’s knows this and uses it.

4. Help to Solve the Problem

Onboarding is an essential aspect of familiarizing users with a particular product, and informing them of ways in which that product can improve their experience. This applies to nearly any product or service out there.

The first step, of course, is understanding the user and his or her problem. By understanding the user, you can offer them a solution to their particular problem. You may also offer them suggestions which would enhance their overall experience with you.

Again, McDonald’s helps to solve the ‘problem’ of their customers as an effective user onboarding tactic. Whenever a customer places an order , the cashier offers suggestions to make their meal more enjoyable. The suggestions typically include an option to upsize their meal, and/or an addition of sauces or desserts.


Similar tactics can be employed to add value to a customer’s experience (online?). Everyone loves additional value, and they are willing to pay for it. For example, the same tactic is used by various online shopping websites that ask customers whether they would like to select express delivery options during checkout or would like to add another product at a discount. All of these things add value.

5. Be Consistent

When it comes to user onboarding, consistency is an absolute must. In order to create the best possible experience for your users, there must be consistent commitment from your side. Everything involved in the onboarding process, from the start to the very end, must be delivered consistently again and again. Any inconsistencies in the onboarding process will lead to increases in abandonment and churn rates.

Such consistency can be seen in the two-step process used by McDonald’s McDrive – a drive through service which allows people to place orders, pay for them, and then receive them – all from their vehicles. Also known as Auto-Mac, Drive-Thru, and Pay and Drive, this service is offered all over the world, making it convenient for people to make purchases without having to get out of their vehicles.

The Lessons That Need To Be Learnt

Let’s quickly recap 5 of the user onboarding practices that we can learn from McDonald’s and apply it to our own onboarding flow. The five practices were:

  1. Make It Easy To Get Value
  2. Save People Time
  3. Welcome Your Customer Properly
  4. Help To Solve The Problem
  5. Be Consistent

Every onboarding process should be made easy enough so that customers can get value without too much effort from their side. If you make the process too difficult, you’re more likely to lose them. The smoother and quicker the process, the more time your users save. You probably won’t be successful in getting a desirable amount of customers if you’re wasting their time by asking for a lot of unnecessary information.

Customers must always be welcomed in a way that really makes them feel valued. There’s no reason for a user to stay or use your service if they don’t feel welcome!

The ultimate aim of your products and services is to solve peoples’ problems. Getting to know the user is the first step towards understanding them and their problems.

Last but not least, consistency is a basic ingredient of every user onboarding flow. Your onboarding practices must be consistent with the services you provide and you should ensure that all of your users are provided the same, brilliant experience. All too often, a returning customer fails to enjoy the same experience they had the first time around, which makes them abandon your service.

I’m sure there’ll be some great comments and suggestions in the comments around other user onboarding things people noticed in other offline businesses. If you found this useful please follow me: @MyTipsCo on Twitter or email me at v.rudenko.seo@gmail.com. Have a great day!