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Perfecting your onboarding/signup process

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April 8, 2021
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This week we’re going to go over another angle for improving your onboarding and signup. More specifically, in terms of information presentation and interpretation. These processes are vital to a product’s success, but once things have gone wrong there are no quick fixes, unfortunately.

Ever heard of the term chunking?... In regards to how users process information on the web? Basically, information is viewed and interpreted more easily when presented in the form of small, digestible pieces. This concept can be directly applied to the user experiences around signing up and onboarding for a new product or service.

A visitor is getting ready to convert into a customer once they’re past your marketing pitch and starting the signup process. Certain information, such as product testimonials, pricing charts, and comparisons, has its own place. And that place would be someplace other than the signup section, where it would take up space needlessly. The focus at this point for your business should be guiding the visitor to successful signup. 

Privacy is a common concern; especially online. So don’t alienate potential customers by asking for too much personal information too soon. Ask for only essential information as a visitor goes through the actions that precede customer status. 

In addition to requesting basic signup details, ensure it’s quick and easy to complete any and all steps. Don’t crowd the screen or try to roll out some flashy, over-the-top feature. Even the user interface navigation isn’t important here; anything on the top or bottom of the screen that distracts the user from entering their information can make them slip into the Abandonment Gap.

Once a user has successfully signed up for your product, they will go through a number of onboarding steps that may include product tours, emails, and updates. If these onboarding procedures are written by a stakeholder who knows the product well, then you’ll probably miss the mark with new users. 

It’s always crucial to consider other perspectives. If a product expert is spearheading the onboarding design, it might be too easy for that person to put aside what they already know and speak in a voice that’s understandable to novice users.

Raluca Budiu wrote an article for the Nielson/Norman Group titled “Memory Recognition and Recall in User Interfaces”, which details the preferability of recognition instead of recall when designing user interfaces.


Sometimes novice users and advanced users receive the same onboarding content, so these components need to be presented in a way that speaks to inexperienced people first and foremost. 

The other way to handle different user experience levels is to create content specifically for each group. That way, novices can get familiar with the product via recognition, relying on their ability to recognize bits of information. Conversely, the more experienced who seek power user status can take advantage of their recall, the ability to recover precise details from memory. 

In addition to recognition vs. recall, Budiu covers the term chunk in the aforementioned article, describing how “psychologists think of memory as organized in chunks: basic interconnected units. Each chunk can be described by its activation: a measure of how easily that chunk can be retrieved from memory.”

It makes sense, considering that knowledgeable users reach that advanced point of experience because they’re using a product very frequently and are able to recall information more easily than users who only use a product once every week or two.

By looking at the way you present information and how users interpret that information, you can create the most positive experience possible for new and recurring customers who want to use your product to its fullest potential.