Are product tours/walkthroughs replacing regular user onboarding?

almost 4 years ago from , Product | UX | Content

User Onboarding process is always debatable. But nowadays I feel that there is a trend in using product walkthroughs to get users onboard. Google, Slack, Facebook, etc are using it, so it's definitely a thing. Do you think these will alter the user experience of the websites and web apps in a couple years?


  • Roman Z, almost 4 years ago

    Tours and walkthroughs suck.

    Most users don't need to know everything your product can do right away. There's probably one particular feature or use case that got them sold on the landing page, and they want to see exactly that when they sign up and enter the product for the first time.

    I think the biggest reason why we see lots of products go for a tour/walkthrough is because user onboarding is an afterthought. Where you build the product and the UI first and then try to retrofit onboarding on top of what you have.

    Redesigns are expensive.

    I agree with Ty here - short 2-3 step tours are good for existing users to point out a change in the UI if you moved things around, or to highlight a new item that may have gone unnoticed. But! It's not a replacement for a native, thoughtful, user success centered user onboarding.

    1 point
    • , almost 4 years ago

      That's an interesting view point, Roman. But, I think the product walkthroughs are useful especially since User onboarding is an afterthought.

      Think of it this way. When you are going on a vacation, you normally decide the cities you want to go, right!? You get your tickets, hotels, etc. done and then that last thing you do is which all places you can visit.

      Well, that itinerary in real-life would be user onboarding. If you have a tour guide to help you with it, then you don't really have to think much about it. Product walkthroughs are moreover a virtual tour guide.

      Maybe a 2-3 step tour is great when it comes to showing minor changes. But what about onboarding a user to a complex application like a CRM or an ERP solution?

      Wouldn't that need virtual handholding?

      1 point
      • Roman Z, almost 4 years ago

        I disagree strongly, Gokul.

        In my experience there are two exceptions where step-by-step tutorials can work: senior citizens and employees.

        I think the first one is clear. In the second case you would typically see a company purchase a big piece of software and just needs employees to learn it by heart through step-by-step repetition. WalkMe has gone after this specific use case.

        For a typical self-service SaaS product though most users find tours annoying. The "click this and then click that" dynamic of a typical walkthrough is too restrictive and slow. To the point where you feel like it's insulting your intelligence.

        More on the subject at https://medium.com/saas-user-onboarding-resources/the-2-stages-of-user-onboarding-e7438f237eb4

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  • Chris KeithChris Keith, almost 4 years ago

    How would you characterize "regular user onboarding"?

    1 point
    • , almost 4 years ago

      Sorry for not being clear there, Chris. To me, regular user onboarding would be Splash screens with a getting started button, or sometimes a little bit more helpful - knowledge base links, video tutorials, etc.

      I am sure you must have come across them in many of the web apps as mobile apps.

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  • Ty Magnin, almost 4 years ago

    Like anything, when used right, product tours are really effective. when used incorrectly they can create a really poor user experience.

    facebook does a nice job IMO using them sparingly to point out new features.

    product tours that point to 10 things on a single page and just say 'look at all the things i can do' are not helpful.

    i imagine webapps all use helpful tooltips and tours more over the years. especially as code-free tools like appcues continue to popularize. i don't see them becoming very popular on websites, however. not sure theres carry-over.

    1 point
    • Gokul Suresh, almost 4 years ago

      I totally agree, Ty. Tooltips and walkthroughs make a lot of sense in web apps. Websites may not really need them unless they use are used to highlight a particular section or maybe a promotion.

      Say for eg, I have seen many eCommerce websites using the walkthroughs to highlight a new filter or a feature. It could be useful when new things are introduced and the users need to be educated about them.

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  • , 3 years ago

    It may be a bit late, but I did find this discussion fruitful. In fact, I wrote an article on the same. - The Curious Case of Interactive Product Tour

    Do check if interested. Thanks, guys!

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  • Amar Tejaswi, almost 4 years ago

    Definitely think so. That's also because while onboarding is more of a UX thing, organizations are looking at walkthroughs and product tours from a business perspective. Product tours are being added (like Pardot did) to improve conversion rates while walkthroughs are being employed to improve retention rates. So, yes, it's like the next iteration and will see an upswing for sure.

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