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Airtable's unique user onboarding update

Last month, spreadsheet-database hybrid Airtable rolled out a new, streamlined user onboarding experience. The experience was shown to new and existing users alike—and while we think a bit of user targeting could improve things even further, as existing users we were still happy to experience this novel onboarding UX.

Here's why:

A welcoming slideout

The onboarding experience kicks off with a cute little slideout. We like the shape of this pattern—short but wide, split between a charming illustration and snappy copy, it feels both compact and impactful.

airtable base new user onboarding march 2020 welcome message

Unique onboarding patterns

After users opt in to the tour, the slideout changes, and a unique hotspot/outline + tooltip pattern appears over individual UI elements. The outline and tooltip let users know where to click, while the slideout copy provides context. The steps in the tour can be advanced by clicking "continue" in the slideout.

airtable base new user onboarding march 2020 hotspot tooltip slideout
airtable base new user onboarding march 2020 with animated hotspot tooltips and slideout
airtable base new user onboarding march 2020 with animated tooltips

A self-help menu

The tour wraps up by directing users' attention to the help menu, where they can access info on FAQs, keyboard shortcuts, etc.

airtable base new user onboarding march 2020 in-app messaging

What we like about this really good UX:

  • It's unique. Airtable mixed some familiar patterns with novel animations to create an onboarding experience that feels fresh. Even though we're already regular Airtable users, we felt compelled to follow along.
  • It's (relatively) concisee. Airtable is a powerful tool with a diverse range of capabilities. Instead of dragging users through each and every capability, Airtable chose to highlight a few, mission-critical features.
  • It's engaging. Animated hotspots and slideouts draw the eye, while the animated image in each slideout panel complements the copy.

What could have been even better:

  • There was no user targeting. We use Airtable every day to manage the Appcues Blog and ReallyGoodUX. This fact wasn't reflected in the language of the welcome message—we were shown the exact same experience as a brand new user, right down to messaging.
Go to the ultimate guide to user onboarding. Discover user onboarding definitions, examples, best practices, and resources.