How QuickBooks Onboards New Users

How QuickBooks Onboards New Users

Sitting down to design a super-effective onboarding flow can be pretty daunting.

Should you make that small tweak? Will it cost you money if you do? How do you find one of those magic tweaks that yield massive results?

There are few better ways to deal with technical and creative challenges than to seek inspiration from those who’ve been through it themselves.

That’s why case studies rock.

There are many valuable insights to come, so let’s get right down to business and see how accounting SaaS, QuickBooks onboards new users.


The homepage is always a good place to start, so let’s look at what QuickBooks has done. See what you think before moving on.

  1. quickbooks user onboarding teardown 1First up, there’s an offer right at the top showing “up to 50% off”. If a visitor has a price objection, this tackles it right away. It’s also incentivized with a deadline. This addition to the page may come and go, but it’s a smart move.
  2. We must admit, we’re not big fans of the headline. Even if you sign up for QuickBooks it will still cost more than $10 per month to “run your business.” Sure, you can do your accounts for $10 a month. But run your whole business? It’s a little ambiguous, perhaps even inaccurate.
  3. The free trial is in a place of prominence which is ideal. But there’s a lot of other green on the page which arguably makes it a little less attractive to the eye. It’s considered best practice to make your call to action (CTA) buttons stand out from page by using a totally different color to the rest of your design.

Sign-up form

Then comes the signup form. There are a few things done well here, so let’s see what they are. Again, look at the image and form your own opinions before we move on.

quickbooks user onboarding teardown 2

  1. Here we’ve got more benefit-driven copy which is what you want for encouraging people through your signup process.For example, “estimate quarterly taxes with confidence” clearly means saying goodbye to the post-submission anxiety usually associated with returns. And that’s a real winner.
  2. There isn’t an excessive number of fields in the form which is great. Because having less fields reduces the friction to sign up in the first place.

As a final point here, it’s worth noting that QuickBooks doesn’t request a confirmation link is pressed via email for you to access the interface.

If you do make your users jump through this hoop, you’re simply taking people out of your flow and allowing for potential distraction when they go into their email inbox, which naturally, is a terrible idea.

Welcome screen

Next comes a welcome screen that describes how QuickBooks works, what you need to do next and what benefits you’ll receive if you do it.

It’s the how, the what and the why, all in a simple illustrated screen. It gets into the most important stuff right away and sets users up for the onboarding process ahead. Awesome. Let’s go over it.

quickbooks user onboarding teardown 3

  1. Although it’s grayed out slightly, QuickBooks provides an option to skip this stage (“skip for now” in the bottom left) just so users don’t feel forced into anything.
  2. After the first two requested actions (“connect accounts” and “mark transactions”) the benefit-driven reason why people should do it is delivered.

Calculating tax is something that no one wants to do after a hard day’s work. So when QuickBooks says “we’ll calculate them for you”, it’s pretty enticing. Hell, even we wanted to sign up there and then.

Upon continuing

We felt the below screen could use a little color, iconography or some kind visually appealing aspects, because it’s a little boring on the page. But, it does do one or two things right.


  1. Firstly, all of the copy on this screenshot is very benefit-orientated. For example, “one click sorts all your expenses”. Really? Man, sign me up immediately.
  2. Naturally, with a free trial in a paid service, people are concerned about billing. The copy explicitly states that users will not be billed until they’re ready. That means people can enter their account details to actually use the service with confidence that there are no more bills in the pipeline. Smart move.
  3. Finally comes the issue of trust. Naturally, finances are a personal thing. Many studies have shown a privacy policy improves site conversions and email signups. So why not use it here?

Oh, QuickBooks did. Good work.

Individual tutorials & guided tour

When we looked at the FreshBooks onboarding process a few weeks ago, we saw how they’d used individual tutorials to teach the separate skills necessary to successfully receive the value on offer.

As we can see from the screenshot below, QuickBooks has followed suit.


  1. Separate tutorials are in place until the user has properly connected their accounts and completed other important tasks. You can see that via the orange icons above.
  2. The guided tour brings the user’s attention to the important points in the interface that actually deliver the value.
  3. QuickBooks has opted for the guided tips method of onboarding. A series of pop-ups with directional arrows and informative text points unambiguously to critical locations. It’s a very effective method.

One bad thing we noticed here is that, when the tour is finished, a placeholder icon is put in place that states “find this later under settings”…

But it doesn’t tell us what “this” is. Why not have copy to the effect of “retake the tour later in settings”, for example? It’s a small mistake, but it’s mighty confusing.

One final point

As a final point comes the tax signup process. Look how well this is has been done.

quickbooks user onboarding teardown6

Figuring out tax returns is a laborious, painstaking and, let’s be honest, boring as hell task. It’s a type of boring with very, very few rivals…

For that reason, a simple walk-through interface via a value-driven product as an incentive to properly fill in your tax returns is alluring to say the least. It’s the same “pleasure/pain principle” often used in sales and it’s used well in the onboarding.

What pain does your SaaS solve? Can you highlight those pains in your onboarding flow?

In conclusion

Overall, we like the QuickBooks onboarding process.

The sign-up button at the beginning being the same color as other parts of the homepage stops it standing out like it should and the homepage copy could be more benefit driven, perhaps even a little clearer.

But many best-practice principles are adhered to, such as using individual tutorials and guided tip-style tutorials and tours.

The only question that remains is, why didn’t QuickBooks use myTips to create their awesome guided tips? They could have implemented them without adding any additional workload to the development team.

Not only that, but they even could have run analytics on each stage. This would allow them to tweak things and discover which copy and areas of the UI worked best to improve conversions between sign-ups and active users.

If that sounds like something you’d like to do, check out our free trial to improve your own onboarding and see the knock-on effect it has on all of your most important SaaS KPI’s.

You’ll be glad you did.