How To Increase Users Engagement Of Your Web-service? First, Help Users To Understand Your Product Better

Companies developing Web service apps are likely to face two big problems — losing potential customers and increasing their client acquisition cost (CAC) — because they seldom focus on a user engagement strategy.

Here are important tips for user engagement. Knowledge of the rules and usage of the techniques below will help businesses to avoid extra expenses and high bounce rates of SaaS projects.

The recommendations in this article are based on pillars of user-friendly web-design formulated by Jakob Nielsen in his “10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design”.

The first version of the article was published on Sand Hill web-site before, but now it is extended due to its focus on UX aspects in customers development.



When developing a web-service we are likely to face a typical challenge

We think about its robustness, security and capacity, but very seldom do we focus on the user engagement strategy.

Let's learn about this challenge and ways to address it through the familiar case for owners of web-based businesses (e.g. online services, web-applications as CMS and CRM platforms).

At first, you create a core service with functions displayed in the interface. Then, you run your web-service and may think you did enough to convert users to paid customers.
Then you got the first group of 100 users and receive the following feedback:

  • 40 visitors were unable to use the service unless they have learned screen shots or videos;
  • 20 visitors were interested in reading the manuals that explain functions;
  • 20 just didn't begin using the system because they couldn't understand how it works from outset, and therefore did not take further steps to use it;
  • only 10 users did everything correctly, without any requests for support;
  • the remaining 10 users were just interested in testing features of your service for comparison with other competitors’ services.

Evidently a lot of advanced functions and navigation of your B2B-service aren't clear for most users. Forty percent have asked for more detailed explanations but not reading the manuals. Just 10% of users could perform all tasks in your system because they already had required experience.

So, how to improve the situation?

A famous specialist in usability practice, Jakob Nielsen, asserts, “the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users” (principle of flexibility and efficiency of use from “10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design”).

According to this principle, your system should be clear and suitable for both beginners and expert users at the same time. A system should not be constructed on the basis of your own experience, which may be understandable only to users with an equivalent, expert level of experience.

Find a way to adapt the system for inexperienced users

Let's evaluate the questions that users asked you from the beginning. The most frequent are the following:

  • what should I do first at to start? (an issue of bad comprehension of navigation);
  • how can I perform the certain task? (a poor understanding of functions and not evident the scenario of use).

Those questions highlight the fact that users need guidance while using your system. If they couldn't interact with the system independently, users needed more useful information than you provided them at the moment.

So the best way to engage users is to provide them with tips and step-by-step instructions on how to complete the tasks.

“Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation”, suggests Jakob Nielsen.

Below is the summary from his “10 Usability Heuristics” which uncovers the principles how to better inform web-services’ users:

  • list concrete steps to be carried out;
  • any helpful information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task;
  • instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate;
  • instructions should not be too large (because Internet users prefer short guidance, rather than to read or search information in manuals).

World-renowned companies like Google or Facebook provide their users with tips and such guidance. You are likely to see such instructions, offering you to try new features or "take a tour", "enter the name", "click here" or "drag photos into your post", etc.

Such tips (or balloon tool tips) are brief, focusing on certain tasks and functions. They are reachable in one click, can be displayed at first visit, or on demand. They may also be combined into demo tours with certain scenarios that guide users through the list of steps.

In short, this kind of tutorial meets main usability requirements set by Jakob Nielsen. Instructions in the form of tips and step-by-step guidance are simple and convenient for users as they “don’t have enough time to spend to learn the use of the complex rule” (Designing Web Usability, p. 22).

So, guided tours will help you to engage new users, answering their how-to questions from the outset.

Tool tips help users to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes

When you passed an early stage of development of your product, you collected enough feedback about what users wanted. Analyze users’ most frequent questions and reactions, put the answers into the baloon tooll tips.

7 tips on how to design step-by-step tutorial

  • hints should explain the concrete steps to be carried out;
  • web guided tours should contain different scenarios for experienced and inexperienced users;
  • describe advanced functions and special terms that are difficult to understand;
  • recommend how to accelerate task performances;
  • make shape and color of tips regarding to design of your site;
  • take ready Java Script code on GitHub for faster coding of step-by-step tutorial;
  • use special web-tools for design of professionally looked users' guidance, provided with special colour modes, shapes and rules to display.

Real case on how to exercise new users with step-by-step tutorial

Let's take a look at Wordpress CMS as an example. Frequently, novice users don't understand many advanced options and specific aspects of Wordpress, even though they had previous experience with similar web-applications (as Drupal, Joomla, etc).

Below is the image of what do they see after opened the start page. It is no evident what should the novice user to do at first.

All we have to do is train inexperienced users, providing them with tips and step-by-step guidance. Step-by-step guidance is a flexible tool for sharing the developer's experience.
See how you can teach new users with step-by-step tutorial.


Step 1. Advice how to start.


Step 2. Explain next steps.


Step 3. Note the fields to fill in (prevent notes about mistakes).

You can also explain special terms and functions, demonstrate advanced features and offer to try them.

You will reduce bounce rates if you apply an interactive step-by-step tutorial

  • more than 50% users will get your timely help and recommendations about advanced functions of your system;
  • users will identify main principles and rules of your system in the first moments of their visits;
  • you will reduce the load to your employees and save expenses on producing of costly media tutorials.

Determine the behaviour of new users and make tutorials more adaptive for them, so you will avoid losing potential customers and minimize clients acquisition cost.