Onboarding Visiontype

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Product Design




One of the biggest pieces of feedback we'd hear from new users is that despite being given tools to learn the basics, they either don't know how to use Mural or don't know why they would want to. We hypothesized that this was due to the fragmented, lackluster nature of existing onboarding experiences.


To address the myriad areas of opportunity for the future of Onboarding at Mural, I led an effort to conceptualize what the best possible onboarding experience might look like.


I lead the workshopping, concepting & visuals for this project, with design support from Sarah Xie, guidance from my manager Lada Gorlenko, and strategic input from our PM Ryan Linden.

🚧 5/1/2023 – Case study under construction 🚧

Why focus on onboarding?

Onboarding is often that first impression a new user has.

A strong onboarding is a strong contributor to product-led growth. To create a successful product-led business, you need a quick time-to-value. Users who are able to become engaged and see the value quickly can lead to more retention and less churn.

When evaluating the state of onboarding at Mural, we identified the following as key problem areas:

Too many different onboarding flows

We have three main personas we account for and a total of 6 types of onboarding when joining a mural. These experiences overlap in what we teach but exist exclusively of one another, which leads to a higher product team effort to maintain and update these flows.

Only focused on first-time users

Our most built-out onboarding flows are for Creators and Joiners joining a mural for the first time. We teach them how to use introductory features but offer very little guidance after that. One of the most quoted reasons for leaving Mural is that they “did not have another use case”. Focusing on first-time users forces us to teach the ‘how’ but not necessarily demonstrate the value of our product or show our users how to further engage with it.

Missing specific, critical onboarding flows

We are either missing or have very rudimentary onboarding to other key parts of our app, such as the dashboard, rooms, and workspaces. We also focus on a fail to account for some key user journeys, such as starting from a template on the marketing website. If we want our users to unlock the full value of Mural, every part of the app should have an onboarding.

Poor understanding of where users are in their journey

Right now, we break up our users into “Creators”, “Joiners”, and “Visitors”. However, these personas are more tied to assumed actions rather than their motivation, potential engagement with the product, and where they are in their visual collaboration tool journey. For example, a Creator and a Joiner joining for the first time who have no experience in visual collaboration tools will need to learn the same things. A Creator might be more motivated to learn about the product after their initial onboarding, but making that distinction so early on just results in a fragmented experience we have to maintain (see point 1).

Lacking in moments of delight

Think about the last time you had a really positive onboarding when you didn’t necessarily want to go through an onboarding. What made it positive? What made you feel engaged? Mural has a such a strong brand of playfulness; Let’s bring some of that into onboarding so it’s more memorable and engaging.

So... where to start?

Before we could begin visual exploration, we'd need to talk to our users to better understand what specific pains they have with the current experience. We'd also need to do a little selling to leadership that a visiontype was the best course of action.


Building a business case for a visiontype

User Testing

We interviewed 5 participants per experience who have never used a visual collaboration software before. Each participant was asked to:

  1. Create an account (through to their specific onboarding experience)
  2. Complete all onboarding tasks as best they could
  3. Explain what they expected to happen after signing up and how it differed from what actually happened
  4. Discuss how easy the Onboarding experience was to use
  5. Describe how much the prompts helped them learn

We learned a ton about our current experiences from this research. I won't bore you with the specifics, but with the all the pieces of knowledge in hand it was time to sell the project up the chain.



A visionary future



Re-defining levels of expertise

User Journey

IA Exploration

Identifying and organizing which elements would be critical to easily explore and complete Onboarding tasks

Identifying the organisms that would make up the Onboarding system

Prototype here.


Gallery 🎨

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