UX Writing is the Key to Effective Onboarding

UX writing is certainly a hot topic right now and increasing numbers of businesses are seeing the value that it brings to site traffic, usage, and conversions. The term essentially combines all the words that a user encounters when using a given product.

Effective UX writing explains how the product or service works and guides the user through the process of using it. One area in which it can be particularly helpful is onboarding. Data from Localytics shows that only a little over a third of users continue to use an app three months after initially downloading it, and one of the major culprits when it comes to abandonment, is ineffective user onboarding.

In this article, I will talk you through how using the right copy can make a huge difference to a user’s experience of a new product.

Important general UX writing tips

Before we delve deeper into some UX writing methods to improve your onboarding process, I wanted to share a couple of general tips, which you should always keep at the back of your mind, no matter what element of your product you’re focussing on.

Maintaining a consistent brand voice

Consistency and simplicity are both extremely important when it comes to UX writing. The simpler your instructions and calls to action are, the more likely users are to do what you would like them to. Some obvious, but valuable things to note:

  • Simplify your calls to action, but make sure that you retain meaning – some product owners aim to keep everything so simple that they end up achieving the opposite effect – i.e. they cause confusion about what the next steps should be.
  • Ensure that you’re using the same words to mean the same things in all areas of your product. E.g. don’t use ‘Checkout’ and ‘Buy now’ interchangeably, as this is likely to confuse users.
  • Ensure that the words which you use in every product are in line with the company’s overall tone and style. That way, you’re much more likely to build brand allegiance and trust.

Use audience-appropriate language

Your starting point for any UX writing should be a thorough understanding of your target audience. In your market research and segmentation, you’re likely to have drawn up audience personas that embody all of the key traits and demographics of your target audience.

If you have two or more distinct personas, you might consider creating separate user flows for each of them, and adopt a slightly different tone and calls to action.

It’s really useful to see yourself as the user going through the process, but you might also want to go one step further and to really get an understanding of how they might be feeling at any point in the process, and to adapt your language accordingly.

Example: If they might be confused about why something has happened on their journey, the language that you use should be reassuring and supportive.

Ingredients for an effective onboarding process

A simple, user-friendly interface is essential in ensuring that all of your messages are delivered in a clear, user-friendly manner. Let’s drill down further into four key ingredients that are essential for this process.

Step by step, simple instructions

The key is to guide your users through the onboarding process with simple step by step instructions. You might consider starting with the following questions when beginning to write these:

  • Why and how did the person reach the current screen?
  • What would they like to do next?
  • What action would you as the product owner like them to take?
  • Does the above translate into a clear Call to Action on the page?

An explanation of why things need to be done

This is particularly useful in onboarding processes for banking and fintech apps, where sensitive data needs to be shared for e.g. opening a bank account. In these scenarios, it’s important to build up trust with your users by explaining why such details are needed and how the information will be used. Reassuring your users that personal information will be stored securely, will greatly improve the customer experience.

Effective problem resolution

Even if you’ve done many rounds of testing before releasing your product or new feature into the world, it’s inevitable that sometimes errors will happen. These can be incredibly frustrating and can lead to abandonment. Errors can be both system and user-generated, but both need to be resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

As a start, it’s important to clearly explain what’s going on and why the error has happened.

Secondly, it’s important to help resolve the issue in a timely and efficient manner. For example, if the error is an incorrectly uploaded user ID that cannot be captured by your system, you can ask the user to try again, ensuring that they have checked that the ID fits inside the given frame and that the right part of the document is in view.

Clear calls to action (CTAs)

CTAs are so important for every product owner. If the UX process has been conducted effectively, it’s the final milestone to getting your users to complete what you have set for them. But how do you ensure that they press that final button? The key here is ensuring that your users are clear and confident about what will happen next. It might be good to summarize what has been done to date in order to leave no room for ambiguity.

E.g. Thank you for uploading your ID. You’re now ready to rent your first scooter. Click below to get started.

So what does a user-friendly onboarding process look like?

Below, we give the example of a fintech onboarding process that involves the user having to upload their personal details and take a photo of their ID.


A simple, to-the-point messaging informs the user exactly what they should be doing.

Home Screen

Personal details

Ask only for the information which is absolutely necessary in order to shorten this form.

Personal Details screen

Proof of liveness video recording

Give clear guidance on what to do and what not to do during the recording.

Recording success

Give acknowledgment when a step in the process has been completed correctly. BUT: If there’s a glitch, clearly explain the possible reasons and give tips on how to correct it.

Analysing Recording Success Screen

ID capturing

This involves taking a photo of the front and back of your ID card. Here it’s great to give a visual tutorial, to guide the user through what they need to be doing.

Checking the ID against multiple databases

While you’re checking the user’s ID against all the relevant databases, show them visually how far they are through the process, and try to limit this time as much as possible.


There’s nothing more satisfying to your end-user than to see that they’ve gone through the process correctly, so be sure to tell them!

In Conclusion

We hope that we’ve convinced you of the important role that UX writing plays in ensuring a smooth and effective onboarding process that will build trust and engagement with your users and reduce abandonment. Remember, that as with any digital process, testing is always key, as there is so much to be learned from your users’ interaction with your product!










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