5 common problems in SaaS onboarding design

SaaS onboarding wizards are often a battleground between different stakeholders.

SaaS onboarding wizards are often a battleground between different stakeholders. C-suite guys want the final result out as fast as possible. Product managers want improved metrics in each individual step. Designers advocate for a good user experience and quality UI design. Marketers want the most sales with the highest margins. With each department pulling in a different direction it’s not easy to stay consistent and on point. Pulling off a good onboarding is a complex challenge.

I’ve been designing and A/B testing onboarding wizards for several hyper-growth companies like Sayata, Komodor, Datricks, Hedgetech, Anymaint, and others. In my experience, good user experience design for the onboarding stage should be a top priority.

Here are my top 5 SaaS onboarding mistakes that may cause your conversion rates to drop.

Too long

Onboarding takes time, both for the user to walk through and the company to design and develop. A lengthy process can be a drain on resources and can discourage users from using the product, so why do it? In a competitive market, a long onboarding process can be a disadvantage for a company as users may choose a competitor with a faster, easier onboarding process.Long processes, not just at the onboarding stage, create frustration, and you will lose users at every step of the onboarding process. Every innocent question or form field — will take away a percentage of your users. It’s 2023, no one has patience, and attention spans are as short as they ever were.

Too many choices

Giving too many choices can overwhelm users and make them feel uncertain about which option is best for them. This can lead to indecision and a delay in completing the onboarding process. Having too many choices can lead to decision paralysis, where users become overwhelmed and unable to make a choice at all. This can result in users abandoning the onboarding process altogether.
“Don’t make me think” is my favorite UX mantra. If you are making them think — they will leave!

Too complicated

A complex onboarding process can be difficult for users to understand and can lead to confusion and a lack of confidence in using the product.If your onboarding requires high technical abilities, special access (being an administrator), and additional software or plugins —this will also lower the chances for your SaaS. These obstacles can make you lose a large portion of your users.

Too easy to leave

It is crucial to keep users engaged in the onboarding process and prevent them from navigating away from it by following links to other pages or tabs. If users are able to easily leave the onboarding wizard, it may result in a higher drop-off rate as they may abandon the process before completing it. Allowing breaks, linking to external pages, or viewing other content during the onboarding process can hinder users’ progress and understanding of the product. If the onboarding process is disrupted, users may not fully comprehend how to use the product, leading to a lack of confidence and lower satisfaction, ultimately resulting in a lower adoption rate.

Too strict

A strict onboarding wizard that doesn’t allow users to skip steps or move at their own pace can be frustrating and time-consuming. Such a rigid onboarding process, which requires users to complete all steps in a specific order, or fill out long forms, can lead to antagonism and high drop-off rates. All of these factors contribute to a negative user experience, which can damage the company’s reputation and discourage potential users from trying the product. It is important for SaaS companies to strive for a balance in their onboarding process, allowing users the flexibility to move at their own pace while still guiding them through the necessary steps to effectively learn how to use the product.

In summary, the wrong kind of SaaS onboarding can lead to user overwhelm, confusion, decision paralysis, and a lower overall conversion rate. And we don’t like low conversion rates.

It is essential for companies to strike a balance and offer a manageable number of options during the onboarding process, keeping the users focused and engaged throughout. By creating a positive and enjoyable onboarding experience, SaaS companies can increase adoption and retention and improve their overall success. Onboarding is like wrapping paper, and your product is the gift. Make your SaaS onboarding light, short, and easy to get through.