I'm working on an onboarding UI to help new users get familiar with our platform and I was thinking about some good ways to implement it.

From what I have come across so far, it seems that many interfaces accomplish this in two ways:

  • Having an interactive guided tour that overlays over the platform and helps users understand basic functionality. Users can leave the tour at any point but they are also able to access the tour again in the future.

An example of this is the tour that the new Google maps gives to new users. googlemaps

  • Have an organized documentation system that has walkthroughs with step by step instructions (and even perhaps video tutorials). This documentation system is introduced to new users immediately on the landing page through a widget/notice which can be hidden forever.

An example of this is the Github bootcamp shown to new users. github

Are there any other good ways to introduce new users?

  • 4
    I'm not a fan of these. It's typically a sign that either a) the UX of the app itself needs some more work. (There are exceptions, of course...) or b) marketing wants to do marketing. (And if using the New Google Maps, I'd argue that is a UX that needs some more work :) )
    – DA01
    Mar 12, 2014 at 17:54
  • 1
    I would also add contextual help on-demand so they don't have to go through the tour again. However, I agree with @DA01 if the UX is well thought out, it might not need the tour aspect. Having a simple pick-up-and-go interface will serve just as well.
    – Pdxd
    Mar 12, 2014 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


There are a number of other ways you can look at as well

  • The walk-through approach : The walk-through approach walks your users through the app like how Google does it. Its also called the joyriding approach. To quote this article

The “joyriding” approach walks the user through the features of an app or highlights the key features. It’s great because it clears up a lot of confusion right from the get-go. I think of this as the go-to approach since it’s what first comes to mind when you really think “onboarding.” While joyriding tends to be the most common process, it can be executed in many beautiful ways.

enter image description here

  • The do something approach : To quote the above mentioned article :

By asking users to make their first move on the application, an application can get users engaged right off the bat. This is common in applications that depend on curation by the user to get the app working (like Ness).

enter image description here

  • The simplified approach: In the simplified approach,once the user creates an account instead of overwhelming him with options, tell how to do the most basic tasks and allow him to go from there. To quote this article

After clicking on “Start posting” the user is taken into the created blog’s dashboard and given only two suggestions to explore and use the interface: “Make your first post” and “Pick your theme.” There are plenty of other items to dive into, but Tumblr doesn’t overwhelm the user with too many suggestions. enter image description here

  • The interactive tutorial approach : The interactive tutorial is kind of similar to the first option but allows the user to experiment with the different options in a guided way.To quote this article

Mailbox uses an interactive tutorial for the onboarding process so that new users can rapidly see the app’s unique features and learn how to use it.

enter image description here

Here are some links worth checking out which give you a good overview.

Web Apps Onboarding: How to Treat Your New Users

Onboarding Techniques and Examples for Your New Users

Onboarding examples - UXArchive

User Onboarding

  • I like that term Joyriding. Video games walk users through all the controls this way as well in the first tutorial level.
    – Pdxd
    Mar 12, 2014 at 18:46
  • The Mailbox approach really resonated with me. The interactive tutorial had working examples (instead of blank) that allowed users to actually learn from existing examples. Personally I am someone that learns from example, so Mailbox' method really made it easy to learn. With that said, I don't use Gmail, so I ended up removing the app, but my short interaction made me really enjoy it. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:57

I have been looking at some great introductions to experiences. I really enjoyed simple banks interactive pages although a bit text heavy for my liking. They allow you to replicate common tasks in a really guided way which gets you excited about their services. https://www.simple.com/goals/ I also like mail chimps although it is a popover. http://mailchimp.com

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