IT’S IN THE DATA 2 : A study on how effective design of a digital product’s user onboarding experience can increase user retention

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för datavetenskap

Abstract: User retention is a key factor for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies to ensure long-term growth and profitability. One area which can have a lasting impact on a digital product’s user retention is its user onboarding experience, that is, the methods and elements that guide new users to become familiar with the product and activate them to become fully registered users. Within the area of user onboarding, multiple authors discuss “best practice” design patterns which are stated to positively influence the user retention of new users. However, none of the sources reviewed showcase any statistically significant proof of this claim. Thus, the objective of this study was to: Design and implement a set of commonly applied design patterns within a digital product’s user onboarding experience and evaluate their effects on user retention Through A/B testing on the SaaS product GetAccept, the following two design patterns were evaluated: Reduce friction – reducing the number of barriers and steps for a new user when first using a digital product; and Monitor progress – monitoring and clearly showcasing the progress of a new user’s journey when first using a digital product. The retention metric used to evaluate the two design patterns was first week user retention, defined as the share of customers who after signing up, sign in again at least once within one week. This was tested by randomly assigning new users into different groups: groups that did receive changes related to the design patterns, and one group did not receive any changes. By then comparing the first week user retention data between the groups using Fisher’s exact test, the conclusion could be drawn that with statistical significance, both of the evaluated design patterns positively influenced user retention for GetAccept. Furthermore, due to the generalizable nature of GetAccept’s product and the aspects evaluated, this conclusion should also be applicable to other companies and digital products with similar characteristics, and the method used to evaluate the impact of implementing the design patterns should be applicable for evaluating other design patterns and/or changes in digital products. However, as the method used for data collection in the study could not ensure full validity of it, the study could and should be repeated with the same design patterns on another digital product and set of users in order to strengthen the reliability of the conclusions drawn.

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