Onboarding in real life

In the hot-humid summer of 2019, my wife and I checked into the maternity ward. Neither of us had a clue what to expect. After what seemed like an endless pile of forms had been filled, corrected, signed and submitted, we were briskly walked through a monotonous corridor and into a room that looked identical to all the other empty rooms that had just passed us. Why that room? What happens next? Does the doctor know we’re here? It’s hot. Does the Air Conditioning work?

I feared a barrage of instructions, but instead, we were left to our own devices. And so we waited - for 20 painfully long minutes. I eventually had to go outside and ask for help. As it turns out, yes, the doctor did, in fact know we were here, but was running late. And no, the air conditioning did not, in fact, work.

With an abundance of technology, and more of us spending our time online than ever before, it often seems like the concept of onboarding has become synonymous with elaborating what your app is capable of - usually with a 3-5 slide carousel.

But onboarding someone - a person - goes beyond just a design enhancement in your software. It’s not a UI or a UX consideration. In most cases, it’s not even virtual. Onboarding is Customer Experience; the perceptible value, exceptionally high; and the touchpoints, infinite.