Iteration is fundamental to modern software development, but the process can be just as useful after you push the “launch” button on your product.
Angela Brown, a product manager at digital mental health company Tridiuum, learned this first hand while building out an in-app onboarding process for the company’s platform. At Pendomonium 2021, she described how she led the company’s transition from in-person to in-app training—and the valuable lessons she learned as the program evolved.
How Tridiuum’s in-app onboarding started
As a customer success manager at Tridiuum, Brown initially jaunted around the U.S., visiting providers in person to lead rollouts. She was able to stand right over their shoulder and physically guide users through the steps required to complete tasks in the platform.
Then came the pandemic. Early on, travel restrictions made that sort of work impossible. To make matters worse, digital health care solutions were seeing huge increases in new users and an associated spike in demand for training. For Tridiuum, that came in the form of a 71% increase in usage over 18 months.
So, Brown shifted over to Tridiuum’s product team and got to work scaling the company’s in-app onboarding strategy. Her solution of choice? Pendo.
Pendo’s in-app guidance capabilities are powerful, Brown noted. But on her first pass at building an onboarding process, it was almost a bit too powerful. “When we first implemented in-app guides, we tried to completely replace every aspect of our in-person training,” she said.
That resulted in some monstrously large onboarding flows, some more than 12 steps long. They were also text-heavy, Brown said, and designed in a way that forced users along a fixed path dictated by Brown’s team.
Let’s illustrate the effect: Say you’re really craving a spinach and cheese omelet. You’ve got eggs and cheese in your refrigerator, but, sadly, no spinach on hand. So, you head over to the grocery store to get some.
When you arrive, you’re met by a smiling employee who is more than willing to help you find the ingredients for your omelet. You just need the spinach, but they insist that eggs are the first ingredient. You’ve already got some, you say, but each time you try to go get spinach, the clerk steps in your way, directs you back to the eggs, and won’t allow you to proceed until you’ve bought them. Eventually, you get so frustrated that you leave the store, sans-spinach and never to return.
“That’s exactly what we were doing to our users,” Brown said. “I was that grocery store lunatic. And that led to very sad guide metrics. Only 9% of users were completing the in-app guides.”
How Tridiuum’s in-app onboarding is going
So, Brown scrapped version one and started over, keeping three learnings in mind: be visual, be strategic, and give users a choice.
This time, Brown took a much more sophisticated “choose-your-own-adventure” approach and reduced as much friction for her users as possible. “Our users are busy clinicians, and they don’t have time to read lengthy, text-heavy guides,” she said.
Tridiuum’s guides became much shorter, and a lot more visual. Brown embedded videos and GIFs in the guides to show users how to complete tasks, rather than try to tell them. Gone was the marathon introductory onboarding flow, replaced with a quick one-minute welcome video. The onboarding was sliced up into task-specific guides of less than five steps each, and users could choose which they were interested in seeing after the welcome video.
Engagement improved drastically: 48% of users watched the video and continued on to engage with onboarding materials—a 30% improvement.
Brown’s team also got more strategic about where and when to present guides to users following initial onboarding. All of the guides were first housed in a Pendo Resource Center, so it would be accessible to users whenever they wanted.
Next, they took a more activity-driven approach to presenting walkthroughs.
“Instead of overwhelming users with tons of guides on their first login, we use page orientations to populate guides when they first visit a page,” Brown said. “This allows them to interact with the platform naturally while receiving helpful tutorials and support along the way.”
Under this scenario, that annoying clerk at the grocery store suddenly becomes a trusted advisor, only offering assistance when you need it. That’s a store you’d definitely visit again, right?
At Tridiuum, that translated to a 63% retention rate, a 15% decrease in support tickets, and 27% user completion of the full onboarding flow. Put simply, “we stopped scaring users away from our platform,” Brown said.