Example of Good SaaS Onboarding – Canva

Few SaaS companies share an onboarding experience as easy and pleasant as Canva. Whenever I think about great onboarding UX, this is the company that comes to mind first.

Canva is a tool that lets people create graphic designs for a variety of mediums. Let’s take a look at some of the genius things the company does to help their users get started.

Taking a look at the home page, you might wonder where the rest of it went. The page has nothing to scroll through below what you see here:

Canva Home Page

What I really like about their home page:

  • Minimal and to the point. Nowhere to scroll, just click Sign up.
  • Social signup buttons – some people just get tired of forms, it’s great to click one button to get into an app.
  • A clear headline – what can I design? Anything. Can I publish it? Yep.
  • Mockup highlights the headline function – search for what you’d like to design, shows some design types and the fact that it works on mobile.
  • A subheading that explains who this is for – pretty much anyone.
Step 2: Canva does a great job presenting designs depending on how you identify yourself. Instead of browsing through tons of mediums that you may not relate to, they show only the most relevant items.
Step 3: Invite others. This is a really brilliant move by Canva. Why? Because when you hook multiple people into a shared project, the individual making the project is much less likely to churn. Not only that, but you’re also helping others discover the app and it takes on a viral life of its own. Now instead of one person knowing about Canva, 5 or more people will have it on their radar.
Step 4: I picked “Personal Use” in the step above. Here, Canva presents some popular personal use projects (I am guessing they base this on actual figures of how many people open these projects).
Step 5: I chose “Presentation” and here are some templates.

Note how I am in and designing my preferred project before ever seeing anything about price, upgrades or other slide-ins with links to guides, videos etc…

Rob Walling refers to the process of going from signup to accomplishing something cool with your app as “minimum path to awesomeness“.

In this example, I can go from nothing to designing and publishing a presentation within a minute (if I didn’t bother customizing it much). How awesome is that?

Step 6: Customized presentation. Mmmm donuts!
Step 7: Download & Pay. Let’s zoom out a bit…

Okay, zoomed. Look what’s happening here: instead of having to choose which plan is right for me, I’m presented with the price after I’ve already designed my presentation. This is genius because it plays on the fact that I’ve invested time and excitement into a project. I am much less likely to cancel now that I’ve put energy into it.

This process of reversing the onboarding flow – allowing users to go from nothing to awesome, and only then asking for payment is one of the best ways to increase conversions.

One other thing you might notice in the above image is how the upgrade to free trial link is positioned in proximity to the image I want to use in my project. By my count there are at least 3 different places within the dashboard to opt into the monthly / annual plan.

Here you can see just how easy Canva makes it to upgrade image licenses.
While the sharing feature seems very natural for this type of app, there is an added bonus of being able to get other people into the app right from the dashboard.
Free trial sequence

The most prominent theme in Canva’s onboarding is minimal jumping from screen to screen. Each action to conversion happens on the same screen without reloading the elements. We saw this on the signup form, the project saving sequence and in the free trial signup.

Every time you introduce a page load to your onboarding sequence, especially the steps leading to checkout, there is an added load time and a possibility for users to drop off. Canva knows this and designed the entire experience to be as effortless and disruption-free as possible.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Does our application serve a diverse audience? If yes, can we present the most relevant information by segmenting our users in our onboarding process?
  • Does our app make it easy for people to sign up? Depending on your industry, you may want to include social sign ups – Twitter, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc…
  • Can we reverse the flow to get people to their “this is awesome” moment before asking for payment?
  • Does our app have multiple means of upgrading to a premium account?
  • Do we have an effortless up-sell process where people can easily select another option without having to jump through hoops?
  • Can we reduce load times by loading the checkout steps within the app? This may work particularly well when the user is in charge of creating something that strongly appeals to their self-expression. The goal is to keep their creation in the back of their mind / visible on the screen even as they look at the payment form.

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