Kylee Palmer

User Onboarding 

UX | Prototyping


While working at Expero, I was tasked to develop designs for a LinkedIn mini-series focused on User Onboarding. The objective of these prototypes were to enlighten stakeholders on the intricacies of UX design choices and to highlight the value that UX Designers bring to enhancing their products.


User onboarding is a critical process that sets the tone for a user's experience with a product or service. This process typically includes registration, account setup, and a brief tutorial or walkthrough to introduce users to the product's functionality and features. To ensure a smooth transition and maximize user engagement, different onboarding methods can be employed. Here's a quick overview of four common onboarding approaches.

Linear Onboarding

  1. Description: Linear onboarding guides users through a predefined sequence of steps or screens, ensuring that they complete essential actions in a specific order.

  2. Use Case: Ideal for complex products as a structured introduction to core features. Highly effective for novice users seeking a guided journey, but may cause frustration for expert users who want more flexibility and control.

  • Advantages: Reduces user confusion, ensures users don't miss critical steps, and provides a clear path to follow.

Progressive Onboarding

  • Description: Progressive onboarding gradually introduces users to new features or concepts over time, allowing them to learn at their own pace.

  • Use Case: Useful when a product has numerous features, and overwhelming users with information upfront can be counterproductive.

  • Advantages: Minimizes cognitive overload, supports continuous learning, and encourages users to explore at their own comfort level.

Contextual Onboarding

  • Description: Contextual onboarding provides guidance or information within the actual product interface, typically triggered by user actions or specific events.

  • Use Case: Effective for addressing user queries or offering assistance precisely when they need it, reducing frustration and enhancing the user experience.

  • Advantages: Increases user engagement by delivering relevant information at the right moment, enhancing user satisfaction.

Self-Direct Onboarding

  1. Description: This approach puts the user in control of their onboarding experience, allowing them to choose which features they want to explore. 

  • Use Case: Suitable for intuitive, user-friendly products or when catering to experienced users who prefer to discover features on their own.

  • Advantages: Preserves user autonomy, fosters a sense of discovery, and aligns with user preferences for hands-on exploration.


In a user onboarding study, researchers typically evaluate these methods to determine which approach or combination thereof is most effective in achieving specific user onboarding goals. Key performance indicators may include user satisfaction, task completion rates, time to proficiency, and overall user retention. The findings from such a study can help product teams refine their onboarding strategies to enhance the user experience and drive product adoption.