Smallpdf | UX/UI Project

Onboarding users

4-step onboarding for trial users in two iterations: one generic and one focused on Smallpdf’s ICPs (ideal customer profiles).

UX Designer
Q2 2021

What I especially liked was going from iteration 1 (generic 4 steps task list) to iteration 2 (ICPs focused task list): it was very interesting to understand which were the best tasks to prompt based on the different profile of the users we have - we worked close to the reasearch team.
(We also had fun while doing this project and we created 3 different spotify playlists for each profile).
Another thing that I loved was the little retro I organised with the other designer involved in the usability tests to learn how to work together better. 
Smallpdf is a Swiss company with more than 40 million monthly users - with over 20  PDF tools it helps people to deal with documents worldwide.

Users sign up for 1 or 2 features, they don't really know the rest of functionalities.

HMW allow users to find new application of Smallpdf for their daily work

(Similar HMWs as some other small experiements we did - you can find them here)


After users sign up for the free trial prompt a 4 step onboarding widget to let them discover Smallpdf.


Motivating new users to complete some welcome tasks can make the discoverability of our product during the free trial funnier and smother; this will lead to our users explore more our product therefore realise our value [aha moment!] faster.

Key metric:  Increase Trial to Pro and increase in tools used during free trial.


Step 1 - We defined the tasks based on usage data (which is the best combination of tools that helps them discover the product but also retain better?) in the meanwhile we created the UI elements that needed to be developed and the logic behind (the flow was different depending on where the users where signing up). 

Step 2 - When we were at a good point we did a usability test: we wanted to know if the checklist pattern experience was easy to understand to our users given its non-linear experience. Here on the right some of the research questions we had before starting talking with users.

Step 3 - The usability test gave us some insight on some areas that we had to fix before releasing. We changed some labels and some of the logic and...we released it!
(We also worked on improving our onboading email chain).

While this project was taking shape, the research team was working on a huge ICPs study to define our ICPs - An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) represents the kind of organisation / person that bring us the most value, while also getting the most value from our product/service. 
By the time we released the onboarding tasks we already knew we wanted to do a second iteration with tasks based on the 3 profiles identified (content creators, operational folks, legal peeps).
In order to do that, we worked first on releasing the self-sort: after signing up our users were asked to go through some questions that helped us identify the bucket they were in, so we were then able to show different onboarding tasks and personalise their experience.

The onboaring didn’t have the impact we hoped for - there was a +1.9% increased in Eureka reached (eureka was an important moment in our customer journey - it happens when a user uses more than one tool in one session) and in general we had a positve impact on retention (+1.3 increase in 2nd week retention). No major impact on the key metrics.
We had some ideas about why it didn’t have the expected impact: it was not prominent enough or maybe it was placed in the wrong part of the customer journey.

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