Kissmetrics Onboarding

How do you help new users learn the ropes without getting in their way?


Marketers use Kissmetrics to find the people behind the interactions. We helped them make their product even better.

Competencies used
  • User Experience
  • Interface Design

The Problem

Analytics tools are some of the most complex products out there—Kissmetrics is no exception. With a series of asynchronous tasks to complete, Kissmetrics new users are presented with quite a few hoops to jump through in order to be successful. We were tasked by the Marketing and Product teams to develop a way for customers to get a better sense of what needed to be done and why.

Guiding Principle

Effective onboarding drives conversion.

The Process

How long should onboarding last?

In order to tackle onboarding, we needed to take a look at the process as a whole and identify the necessary order in getting set up. Beyond just that, we wanted to identify what steps would allow the user to be as successful as possible - crucial for customer retainment. In order to do this, we held interviews with key stakeholders, look ad analytics data, and used the product ourselves to get a grasp on the user experience.

Using that process, we were able to develop a flow that balanced speed and education, giving users a holistic view of the tool without being overbearing.


During the discovery process we uncovered some interesting feedback: users actually weren’t always aware of what Kissmetrics could do after signing up.

To help, we created a quick fork that allowed users to visit a demo account, which was proven to help educate users to the tool’s features and increase overall trial conversion (a win-win in our book).

The fork is based on two mindsets of potential initial users: The first being, "I need to see what you can really do before I commit", and the second being, "I'm ready to go, let's do this thing!"

How do we make the UI non-blocking?

Kissmetrics had done quite a few onboarding pages in the past with mixed results, but we wanted to break from that mold for one simple reasons: they were blocking. Every page was a jumping-off point for a task to be complete, but instructions didn't follow as the user's context changed. Important pages were usually hard to find, if they were even part of the admin navigation at all.

We wanted to find a UI that would do 3 things:

  • Show the process as a whole to provide a user with context.
  • Provide instruction on the actual page where steps are being taken.
  • Give user feedback on task status/completion.

After some protoyping, we landed on a simple, elegant solution: the sidebar. Crazy! After a recent redesign, the Kissmetrics admin had lots of extra horizontal breathing room, perfect for an interactive onboarding sidebar. It accomplished all of our goals while being simple to implement, flexible, and familiar - a combination we couldn't resist.

The Outcome

We designed an onboarding flow that made a complex product easy to understand, and even easier to use from day one.