Conquering user onboarding challenges in SaaS apps

Conquering user onboarding challenges in SaaS apps

Reading Time: 7 minutes

When you decide on onboarding a new user, the experience should focus on providing better results.

Every SaaS product is unique; each has its qualities and parameters to work on; as a UI UX designer, you need to know the onboarding challenges of some of the SaaS apps to get a better understanding of its work processes.

We appreciate you taking the time to read through our comprehensive guide to SaaS onboarding and its challenges. Let’s get started.

About SaaS onboarding

Introducing a product to potential users and encouraging them to use it for their business needs is called SaaS onboarding.

During this stage, you need to tell the users about the benefits of your product in a stipulated period.

What are SaaS onboarding experiences?

Suppose you buy a skincare product; using the product, you enjoy the softness of your skin; finally, you like the product you are using.

Similarly, the SaaS onboarding experience represents the kinds of interactions that the user has with your SaaS products.

This user experience starts from the starting point called the signup flow.

Here, the user generally comes across a welcome screen, allowing other interactions they can have with the customer service team.

If it is a good experience for the user, they will adore your product; however, if it turns out to be a dull one; they will not think of using your product. According to Thrive My Way, 67% of customers expect high-quality standards for SaaS companies, and this demand just keeps growing.

Main SaaS user onboarding challenges

SaaS user onboarding does pose some pertinent challenges, but understanding them can help you navigate them better. The customer retention of SaaS depends on varied factors.

A major reason several SaaS users discontinue using products is that it becomes difficult to help them with the entire process.

Main challenges in SaaS onboarding

No doubt, the product would be valuable and worth solving their problems. However, making them reach this point where they tend to use the product becomes a little complicated.

For this reason, a proper understanding of the user’s needs and behaviour is essential. It’s all a game of behaviour; the more you understand the behaviour of your users, the more likely you will get to help them reach the final point.

So, let us look at the top SaaS user onboarding challenges:

1. Cluttered interface

Displaying too many options which aren’t even required gives the user a feeling of digging the well. So, we need to make the users feel that it is an easy experience and is simple to use.

Try to avoid making users feel overwhelmed or confused by adding tons of options. This is why about 40% of people prefer to be self-served rather than having any human contact.

2. No customer feedback

SaaS companies don’t get feedback because the users won’t spare their time to complain about the product if they don’t like it. They often find it so hectic to contact customer service and get an issue resolved that they might continue the way they were working.

Also, if you wait for your users to inform you about any issue, it’s quite late because they hardly do.

To improve your product, you need to take feedback from users. Rather than just waiting for them to reach out to you, take a step and reach out to them instead.

3. Every user’s interest isn’t similar

There may be thousands of different users with diverse interests and needs. In such a case, you must consider that not every user is looking for the same thing.

They have got their different requirements for using the product and for that you need to understand their requirements deeply.

Ask them about their needs and understand their behaviour. This would help you position your users in the right place with a perfect solution.

4. Success doesn’t happen overnight

You need to follow all the required steps that help create a good user experience. Remember that things might not work out in one go. Everything takes time; the only key is consistency. So, keep working on the right path and believing in what you do; success will find your way soon.

How to create the best SaaS onboarding experience?

To avoid the dissatisfaction of your users due to any reason, let us find out how you can create a better onboarding experience for your users. The ways to create the best onboarding experiences are:

1. Low friction

The rule of thumb is that the less friction your users face, the better experience they will tend to have. Although in some cases, friction-based onboarding turns out to be beneficial (such as complex enterprise platforms where technical and human skills are required more).

People always believe in taking a shortcut in their lives, whether in their personal lives or professional. Similarly, if you display your users with succinct and limited features, they would feel satisfied using it.

On the other hand, if you try to keep unwanted features too, that would exhaust your product’s value for the user.

Low Friction

One of the great examples of a frictionless onboarding experience is Slack’s sign up process.

Tip: Try to avoid keeping ten product features when only a few are essential to the user. Be user-centric and then design the number of features that should be placed.

2. Short time to value

The shorter the process you take your users through, the more curious and simple it becomes for the user to use your product.

Time to value is a metric that examines the distance from sign-up, through the onboarding phase, to the point where a user finds the “Aha! moment” with your product.

The best approach towards this would be to understand the core need of your user. Once you’re done with it, it becomes easy for you to figure out the shortest path for them.

Tip: Survey to understand what the majority of users prefer.

3. Self-serving user flow

Isn’t it great when we don’t need to rely on anyone for work?

Yes, it is. Therefore, to deliver a good SaaS experience for your users, focus on how they could easily operate through the process. They shouldn’t require the help of a customer success manager until and unless required. So, users should have the accessibility of SaaS 24×7.

Also, the presence of a resource centre within the app allows the users to search for all the help required. It also helps in onboarding documents on demand.

4. Interactive onboarding

We are social beings who love to be appreciated and like people responding to our actions. Reacting to the user’s actions helps us have an interactive onboarding with them.

This further helps them feel a sense of belongingness by providing them with a good onboarding experience. As per a study, over 4-6 tools are being used by 60% of companies for better onboarding.

Mailchimp has truly nailed it when it comes to interactive onboarding. The graphics, text and overall interface are quite intuitive and conversational.

Mailchimp Onboarding Screen 1
Mailchimp Onboarding Screen 2
Mailchimp onboarding screen 3

Mailchimp onboarding screen 4

5. Contextual experience

Onboarding experiences should represent the current activities of your user. For example, consider that your business requires an explanation of technical terms related to your products to your customers.

In such cases, you can use tooltips to explain the concepts, provide pricing details, and show disclaimers. This allows users to have greater clarity about your offerings.

So, contextualising according to user requirements helps boost them up for work and provides them with a good work experience.

6. Use of personalisation

Personalisation is a great way of making users feel involved in your product or service. For example, when users sign up to Grammarly, it asks them for some basic details to provide a personalised video tour of how it works.

Use of Personalisation

7. Use onboarding checklists

Using onboarding checklists containing incentives with a progress bar will help your users draw their attention toward the key activation points. These are natural triggers that would attract the user to onboarding.

With effective interaction, personalised-cum-contextualised information, providing limited features, creating an attractive display screen, providing the user’s solution they desire, adding value to your user’s experience, etc., are among the key steps that help you create an amazing user experience and alongside build an organic customer base.


Following the tips mentioned above will help you create an amazing user onboarding experience, helping you with customer retention. It would help build you as a loyal brand.

So keep yourself updated with the trend of customer behaviour and updated strategies that help the customers engage with you.

Mailchimp, Evernote, and other brands tell you that a well-thought-out onboarding is your best friend for growing your SaaS business.

To create a successful user onboarding, we need to understand the barriers faced in the process. A proper understanding of why things don’t work out is important to take the correct action.

Certain external factors affect the onboarding process, but you need to figure out your core customers so that it helps you with the key points that activate your user onboarding.

Octet Design Studio helps take your products to the next level by aligning your business goals with the end-users’ needs. Our SaaS design agency create and convert engaging design elements into pixel-perfect UIs. To know more about us, visit our website today!

Related articles:

Best Practices for SaaS App UX Design

5 Ways Design Agency Can Transform Your SaaS Product

10 Super-Effective Techniques to Improve SaaS Conversion Rate

Creative Director and Founder of Octet Design Studio- Aakash Jethwani
Aakash Jethwani

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