September 23, 2021

How we redesigned the onboarding experience to grow user acquisition

How we redesigned the onboarding experience to grow user acquisition

As a product designer, we talk about product growth and key metrics more than ever. I love this movement because we can validate and measure the impact of the design outcome that we deliver for business as well as user experience.

Our design team at also has a design process starting with defining specific, measurable and meaningful success metrics. With the process, to drive product growth, we defined user acquisition and redesigned onboarding experience. Here is how we started off.

Why acquisition, not traffic?

How can we increase user traffic? This is a common question for many companies to attract and acquire more users. However, for me it seemed not so meaningful to drive more user traffic to our site if we couldn't turn most of them into acquired users because...

Shouldn’t we fix a jar with many holes before pouring more water into it?

The thing is that user traffic on your site is not equal to user acquisition. You won't say that you acquired a user if he/she visited your site for 3 seconds and left without any action. Of course, you can buy more promotion ads to increase traffic, but that is definitely not sustainable and scalable. This is why we focused on user acquisition rate specifically.

So, what's the problem?

Like many other products out there, we also require new users to complete onboarding in order to fully access our product. Definitely we would lose many users from being acquired through the process. After looking into drop-off analysis within the onboarding funnel from Amplitude, we found that the onboarding completion rate was only 61.2%. Basically we lost a third of new users!

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Then, why don't we just remove the onboarding? Why was the onboarding even necessary? This question leads back to the definition of acquisition as we should understand the value of the onboarding in the context of acquisition. Here is a definition of acquisition that I think makes more sense than others. (thank you, Ben Winter)

Acquisition: the number of users who 'interact' with your product

Our team wanted to provide more meaningful interactions to acquired users. This is why the onboarding experience was necessary so that we could deliver core values of our product with more personalized experience based on the data provided from the onboarding. After data analysis and heuristic review, we came up with problem assumptions and applied a few design principles as below.

How we redesigned onboarding experience

Principle 1. Less is more

Based on the analysis from Amplitude, it was clear that the more time they spent, the more drop-offs occurred. Hence, the key challenge for us was to design a faster and easier experience so that users can spend much less time on the onboarding.

We started with tackling the step that took the longest time from users. After many rounds of Fullstory reviews and user testings, we found that the main problem with our previous design (image below) was that users had to scroll a very long dropdown list of Category and spend some time to understand the meaning of each option under Level.

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With those problems in mind, we raised a few questions. Is there any smarter and faster way than this? Any other design component more optimized for multiple selection experience? We moved onto design research and explorative ideation. After a few design iterations, we landed with a new design (big shoutouts to Gage and Oliver for providing inspiration!). The key solution ideas were to let users:

  • quickly find and select categories from suggested tags
  • easily understand and select level option

The impact of this new design (image below) was quite remarkable. The average time that users spent on this step decreased hugely! 55 sec → 18 sec 🔥

But...will it really decrease the drop-off rate? We shall see about it soon below.

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Principle 2. Why before what

Previously we spent lots of time to think about what kinds of questions to ask, but we didn't make it clear enough to users why we were asking those questions and what they could get from it. Imagine, if someone stops you on the street and ask some questions without telling you why and what you can get from it, won't you just ignore and leave? We assumed that was why there was the biggest drop-off from the first question with 26% drop-off. So we made it clear to users what they can expect by answering those questions in the onboarding.

Also, another problem assumption was around a full-page experience of onboarding. Will they worry that there might be another thread of questions even after the onboarding? Surely we didn't want users to have such concerns which would lead to more drop-offs, so we adopted modal-based experience instead of full-page so that we could show them what to expect the next behind the modal, in addition to telling them about it (the hard truth is that users often don't read because they are not there to read).

Principle 3. If not less, maybe later

There were many questions that we wanted ask in order to learn more about our users and to provide more optimized experience to them. But again, more questions meant less user acquisition with more drop-offs. It would be the best if we could just simply remove some of the questions but those questions were already well thought through by our team and were really important for us to know.

So we came up with another approach instead of 'Less is more'. If we can't ask less, can we ask some later? After another review, we found that actually the first question of onboarding ("Are you actively looking for a job?") didn't really impact the experience of the acquired users. We decided to ask the question in another place at a better timing after onboarding, expecting to see less drop-offs from the onboarding funnel.

The outcome: 61% to 90%

The outcome of this design experiment was more than what we expected. Right after releasing the new experience, the onboarding completion rate showed a huge increase from 61% to 90% (150% growth👆) which meant a much higher user acquisition rate.

What's the next?

This is not the end of our acquisition story as we will keep working on it. Are there any other ways to apply those design principle? Or some other principles? How can we analyze the data with different perspectives? There are still many questions and possibilities that we have to explore further.

In our company, we value and love experiments (though it may fail sometimes) so that we can keep learning to grow our product as well as ourselves. Thank you for reading, and I will share more again once we have new learnings so that we can grow together!

P.S. You can be a part of our design story. We are hiring a product designer!