I am doing research on improving onboarding process of a SaaS product. Can you recommend a methodology and researches for this kind of work?

I plan to do data analysis, heatmaps, video sessions recordings, heuristic evaluation. I plan also doing unmoderated user testing, but I doubt I can do JTBD interviews with a time limits I have.

  1. Is it possible to do JTBD as an online survey?
  2. Can you recommend other low cost/valuable insights researches?

2 Answers 2


Ask your sales or relationship management team if you can be introduced to a few new customers who are onboarding. Ask the users if you can watch them go through a few key tasks, and take note where they're struggling. Then, interview them - ask about what's been the best part of the system so far, what's been hardest, what they wish the system supported (which often exists, but they haven't discovered yet - great onboarding feedback.)

I would choose interviews over data/analytics at this stage because analytics tend to aggregate performance data, and unless you have a very sophisticated setup, it's going to be hard to separate data from novice users from those who onboarded years ago.

If you can get a large enough sample, then surveys could be useful as well. Again, you'd need a way to carve out the novice users who are onboarding, and that can be tricky. In my experience, your SAAS software is replacing things like Excel spreadsheets, whiteboards, or terrible other systems, and often novice users are happier than those who have been in your system for a long time, so they might over-index on attitudinal data that you're collecting. Which is a fancy way of saying that they're in the "honeymoon phase" and might tell you things are going great. Watching users use the platform is how you get around this.

But because they are onboarding and want to be helped and heard, I think you'll be able to book a few interviews and not need incentives like gift cards. Work through the relationship team.


Unfortunately, most companies do not have budget and time for doing a fullblown design thinking approach to improve onboarding.

Define Onboarding: Slack defines successful onboarding when a user has sent atleast 2000 messages. Do you have something in place like this?

I would suggest start with User Segmentations and create different path they would take to reach the core value of your app. You can do reverse engineering as well. For example, "making sellers sell 10 items per day" to "creating a sellers account" going backward.

For quick and lean approach a microsurvey can also be done if you know enough about your customers.

New vs Active Users: Please note that you will need a strategy in place for new vs Active users as well. For Active users, onboarding may mean introduction to new features so you see onboarding is not a one-done thing.

Create Events and Measure Drop Off of rates: You can create and tag events from a tool like Pendo and track user behaviour and see if you can cut some steps.

These will give you enough to improve your current experience.

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