Designing a Top-Notch Onboarding Experience for Your IoT Device

By Allison Sall
March 18, 2022

Your customers have unwrapped the beautiful packaging and powered on their new IoT device. What happens in the next few moments is what matters the most: Onboarding.

Onboarding is your chance to educate your customer on how to navigate their new favorite product. And it’s this first impression that could make or break how they feel about purchasing it altogether. 

Too often, IoT onboarding can be complex, convoluted experiences. Whether the information is presented in an overwhelming way or it takes too long, an onboarding process that feels less than mindful can leave a bad impression. 

Instead, give your customers a simplified orientation that leaves a lasting positive impression long after they’ve recycled the box.

Strategize the Must-Do Tasks For Your Customer During Onboarding

Your job is to make onboarding as painless — even as enjoyable — as possible. This means thinking about all the details your customer needs to know and leaving out everything they don’t. 

To get started, strategize every must-do your customer needs to complete for proper onboarding. This may include: 

  • Connect the device to WiFi and Bluetooth.
  • Answer questions relevant to their account to further personalize their experience (and for future marketing purposes).
  • Complete educational steps that teach them how to use the product correctly

As your team goes through all these must-dos, you need to consider the context of how your customer will be using your product. Different devices have different needs, after all. The design of your onboarding flow needs to consider how your customers’ context might affect their experience. 

For example, your connected device could be a compact medical device. Think about all the requirements your product needs to work and how to communicate that information to the customer. Throughout their onboarding experience, customers should learn how they will need to interact with both the device and your companion app. 

Does your device:

  • Need to be on a level surface?
  • Need to know where it is, or what kind of surface it’s on?
  • Require parameters to know what mode to run?

If your device is something someone wears, like a health tracker, think about how, what, when, and where they will use it. Does your customer need to know your wearable device is:

  • Only waterproof up to a certain point?
  • Most productive if it’s in a certain place on the body?
  • Only turns on with specific gestures?

If your connected device needs specific conditions in order to work properly, think about how to notify your customer when any of the elements are affecting how the product works (or is not working). 

Creating each can’t-miss piece of information prior to design will ensure that you leave nothing critical out that could derail your customer’s experience. A design agency can help you think through each possible step and map out a plan.

Create a Flow Diagram to Choreograph Your Onboarding Experience

Now that you have your list of must-do’s and your considerations for context, next up is choreographing the overall experience. 

Create a diagram that identifies what tasks or educational steps need to happen and when. 

For example, does your customer create an account as part of an onboarding questionnaire, giving them a personalized experience? Or does the customer start with connecting the device and — boom, they’re ready to go? Does the customer need to input certain information so their robot cleaner knows the parameters of the room? 

As you create your workflow, identify where you can whittle down some process points, or even combine them. Not only is this important for simplifying the process, but it’s also critical in keeping your customer’s attention. 

Maybe they have to pick up their phone, put it down, do something with the device, and repeat, repeat. If the process is too complex, you risk frustrating your customer, complicating their experience, and leaving them with more questions than answers.

To ensure your onboarding process isn’t taking too long, have your team test the experience using a wireframe prototype, paying attention to each touchpoint. Then, conduct usability testing. Even if you don’t have a fully functional and working device, you can learn what areas of your onboarding need to be refined and how you can adjust to improve the overall experience.

Design Educational Elements for All Different Customer Learning Styles

Teaching your customers how to navigate your product can be tricky. You want to educate them so they feel confident and comfortable, but you don’t want them to get bored or confused. The trick to avoiding this? Don’t design a homogenous educational experience. 

Each customer is different and they will learn in their own wonderfully unique way. Not only that, but they will interpret information differently from the next customer. 

To make a well-rounded onboarding experience that’s helpful and pleasing to all, you need to think outside the wireframe and consider ways to educate them that really resonate.

  • Prioritize visual information. For visual learners, nothing is better than seeing illustrations or images to complement the text. A strong visual like an image, animation, or infographic can help someone understand the task at a glance while reinforcing it with text.
  • Integrate short videos. Some instructions may have multiple steps, like how to reset your device, or how to clear a path for your robot vacuum. Creating a short video helps distill complex information in an easier way.
  • Organize onboarding into digestible pieces. Don’t overwhelm your customer with too much information at once. Break up the process into discrete steps to help create a clear path for what the customer needs to do — and see how far they’ve come with checkmarks or other animations along the way. For your robot cleaner, this might look like: 
    • Create an account
    • Personalize my profile 
    • Connect my device 
    • Start my first clean
  • Provide help along the way. No matter what you do, sometimes a customer will take a wrong step or they’ll experience a Bluetooth glitch. Anticipate that anything could happen and provide access to getting help troubleshooting, or providing definitions for less common terms.

Some customers will prefer to read all the instructions before touching the device, while others may opt to learn on the job and skip over instructions altogether. Either way, designing your educational elements with these diverse learning styles in mind makes sure everyone’s style is entertained.

Create Positive Moments and Leave Customers Feeling Excited When Onboarding is Complete

Beyond creating a simplified, easy to understand onboarding process, don’t miss chances to delight your customers and leave them feeling excited about their purchase. 

To do this, consider the peak-end rule where people tend to remember intense positive or negative moments (peaks) and the last moments of an experience (end) rather than the sum of the entire experience. 

To use the peak-end rule to shape an amazing experience, include the following in your design: 

  • Celebrate milestones and successes. Because you’ve done a great job breaking up your process flow into digestible pieces, use those natural transition points to celebrate key moments when they’ve completed a task. If they’re progressing through the workflow, reinforce progress with animations or brand moments.
  • Reward them at the end. They’ve learned everything they need to learn — reward them! Give them a moment of celebration by injecting a kind message — that recognizes the end of their onboarding experience and the beginning of their experience with your product. Leave them feeling inspired and ready to go.

Engage a Design Agency to Design a Companion App and Outstanding Onboarding Experience

As you work on the physical design of your IoT device, ensuring your companion app and onboarding experience is top-notch is one of the most important things you can do for customer satisfaction. 

To make your connected product as helpful, easy to use, and enjoyable for your customers as possible, consider engaging an outside design agency. When your team is so focused on making every aspect of your product the best it could be, collaborating with a design agency that specializes in app design can be a relief — and a competitive advantage.

At Everyday Industries, we’ll work with you to conduct a strategy session to figure out what’s needed where. Next (in a nutshell) we’ll map out the customer journey, design the user experience, draw the high fidelity wireframes, and test (and test and test) the design until it’s ready to wow. It’s what we love to do. 

If you’re ready to lean on an expert, we’re here to help.