Checklist Philosophy & Planning

Quick Start

Whether you're new to Appcues, or a seasoned veteran, you're probably curious about a few things. Whats the best way to setup a successful onboarding experience? How can your users keep track of their progress? Should it be hands-on or hands-off, or somewhere in-between?

With our Checklist, we've looked back at our experience of watching our customers build hundreds of onboarding flows for their products, and designed something that's predictable, delightful, and effective for helping users learn any product.


Check out our checklist pro webinar here!

The Checklist Philosophy

Checklists have been used successfully in fields ranging from  aviation, to medicine, to education. In each case, the use of checklists has improved quality, safety, and learning success by a wide margin. In software, the checklist patten has been used for new-user onboarding in various forms for many years, the most famous example being LinkedIn's motivational meter for "completing your profile."

There are four reasons we recommend you use the Appcues Checklist.

  1. It's predictable: Users are automatically introduced to the Checklist experience the first time they see it, and they always know how to get back to their tasks.
  2. It's motivational: As users complete tasks, the checklist pops up to reward them, and clearly show them the next step, building momentum. It also breaks down the often daunting task of learning new software into parts, making users more likely to complete it.
  3. It puts end users in control: Unlike a walkthrough, the Checklist shows the path and gives the user power over their own learning experience, making for a more engaging UX.
  4. It's informative: It informs the user, but it also informs you by quickly unearthing what works and what doesn't in the first moments you meet a new customer.


Checklist Checklist: Before You Start

There are a few things you should do to ensure you're ready to setup a successful Checklist experience: 

  • Map the landscape. Take a look at your product with your team, and determine your overall activation goal, and the major actions users have to take to achieve it.
  • List it out. Take the the top 3 – 5 actions new users should do in your app to reach your goal. We don't recommend more than five (okay, maybe six) items per checklist—the larger the number of tasks, the less likely it will be for users to complete them all, or even attempt to begin. Keep it as simple as possible for your product.
  • Track the actions. Consider the actions users must take to complete the tasks above. In order for Appcues to know when to check off the item, you'll want to send an event or update a user property to correspond with the action. We encourage you to send us live user data over simply checking the item via a page view or flow completion because it will motivate users to actually complete the action vs going through the motions.
    • For example, do you hope they will 'Create a New Project' as step 3 in your Checklist? Consider sending in a 'created project' Event, or a 'number_of_projects' User Property..

Exercise: Planning Your Checklist

To help you plan, we've put together the following exercise you can complete with your team. We recommend the Appcues onboarding owner collaborate with a designer, an engineer, and perhaps someone from a supporting role, such as customer success or support, who may have insight into the customer experience leading to a successful start.

If you have a good idea of the steps required in your product, you can skip this step. Just be sure to also track events and user properties that will allow you to respond to the user behaviors indicating completion for each item.

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