The Ultimate Guide to Creating In-app Tutorials

Krithika Raj
9
min read
November 22, 2023

Imagine you're on vacation in a foreign land. There are no signs to indicate places or guides to take you around.

That's how your users feel when they enter your product—confused and overwhelmed.

In-app tutorials are like friendly sign boards at each junction that show users which attractions to visit next, where they can find different essentials. It ensures that your customers know their way around the app.

In this blog, we'll explore different kinds of in-app tutorials and how to create a stellar walkthrough.

What Is An In-App Tutorial?

An in-app tutorial is a helpful guide built into an app's user interface designed to offer guidance and provide product training directly within the app. The purpose of an in-app tutorial is to help users quickly learn how to use the product’s features and functionalities without having to refer to support articles or spend hours on a call. These tutorials may include video demonstrations or interactive step-by-step guides, often called app- or interactive walkthroughs.

Where To Use An In-app Tutorial?

An in-app guide is not just a bunch of to-dos that users need to check off before using the product. An in-app tutorial must strategically guide the user to use the product in a pre-defined workflow so they can experience valuable features seamlessly.

These are some ways in which you can onboard your users with an in-app tutorial.

1. Pop-ups Within The App

When a user signs up for your product, you can show a pop-up illustrating the benefits of your product or a major feature you'd like them to try out. An in-app pop-up typically contains text, but it works best when you have a video attached to it. Platforms like Storylane can help you create short, interactive video tutorials that can be embedded within a pop-up for easy user onboarding.

Jeevithan from Mad Street Den explains how he executed an onboarding guide using pop-ups, "When we launched a new product last year, our goal was to increase adoption at scale. The best way to do that was within the product. So, the team quickly got to work on short 2-minute videos for all important features, with captions and detailed instructions on how to use them. The idea was that as soon as a user entered the platform, they should be able to navigate it easily with the help of video tutorials."

2. Pulsing Hotspots 

Another efficient way to bring attention to key features is using Hotspots. They are an interactive UX element designed to bring attention to a certain product area without being intrusive or annoying. 

For example, monday.com uses a combination of HotSpots and pop-ups to capture the user's eye and showcase their features tactfully. On a simple and clear product like monday.com, these pops of color definitely add an interesting edge that makes the user want to check it out.

GIF of monday.com’s in-app tutorial using hotspots and pop-ups

3. User Onboarding Checklists

User Onboarding checklists are helpful to-do lists that make it easier for new users to get started with a product. They make sure users remember important things and help them use the product effectively right from the start.

For example, Klenty offers a step-by-step checklist of preliminary onboarding steps a user needs to complete before using the product - offering a seamless user experience.

"At Klenty, we wanted our users to start with the basics, like connecting their email IDs or CRMs. But often, they'd struggle to navigate within the product. So, we devised a quick solution to include user onboarding checklists within the app. And it has impacted product adoption significantly. Our customers have a premium walkthrough experience, and we can also track where users are getting stuck to assist them whenever necessary,"

says Tanya George, Product Marketer at Klenty.

A screenshot of Klenty’s onboarding checklist

4. Interactive Product Guides 

Interactive product guides are used to welcome users with a step-by-step guide on how to use your product. With this, you can showcase your product’s many use cases and features without overwhelming customers.

Platforms like Storylane help you build interactive product guides. You can take your users through a journey - a specific use case or a series of steps showing them how to use a feature. Storylane’s editor enables you to add a variety of widgets where you can instruct your users using text. You can also personalize your guide by changing the background color, adding a backdrop, changing font size and style, and so on. 

How to Create  An Amazing In-App Tutorial

Now that we've covered different ways to showcase app walkthroughs let's move on to how you can build the perfect tutorial for your product.

Here are the 5 steps to creating an In-app tutorial: 

5-step guide to creating in-app tutorials

1. Identify Gaps In Your Feature Adoption

A good place to start would be to analyze customers' behavior on your product and identify areas that need to be adopted. It could be for various reasons - maybe the feature is hard to find, or customers need help understanding what it's there for. Either way, bringing attention to a feature is a surefire way to increase adoption.

Usability tests, focus groups, surveys, and user interviews can help you discover where they struggle.

2. Create A User Journey Map

User journey maps visually represent the steps a user takes to activate your product. Below is an example of a user journey map:

Image illustrating user journey maps
Source

Formulating a user journey map requires a deep understanding of your users, their steps when using it, and the challenges they might face. While it typically covers the user's entire journey (from first touch to ongoing usage), for a product walkthrough, you'll mostly be focusing on the adoption side of things.

3. Design Your In-App Tutorial

With a clear understanding of the usage of the product, it's time to create a blueprint for your app walkthrough.

As discussed earlier, there are various ways to take your users through the product. Pick one that best suits your needs. Use pop-ups with texts and videos if your feature is quite complex. If it's straightforward, use pulsing hotspots to bring attention.

Here’s how to go about building your blueprint:

  1. Choose your workflow: Deriving from your user journey map, choose the best workflow that would help your users adopt your feature/product.
  2. Create a storyboard: Visually represent how your in-app tutorial will unfold, screen-by-screen.
  3. Create a narrative: Each screen should have instructional content that leads up to the next.
  4. Personalize: Add elements like placeholders and CTA buttons to make the user experience memorable. 

It's all about user engagement. Some UI patterns to remember:

Modal Windows is a pop-up that appears in front of the main window. They are usually text-based with a simple CTA button. They can be especially useful if you've released a new feature and want your users to try it. 

Slideouts are a less intrusive way to capture attention. They pop up on the side, allowing users to decide if they want to engage or not.

Tooltips are little dialog boxes highlighting a specific part of the product. They're great for guiding your users through a step-by-step product walkthrough.

Hotspots are little pulsing dots that appear on the product to bring attention to a certain area.

4. Build Your Walkthrough

Implementing the blueprint comes next.

There are various ways to do it:

  • Use no-code, third-party tools built specifically for in-app guides.
  • If your team is tech-savvy, explore building the patterns by yourself through code.
  • Use platforms like Storylane to create simple step-by-step tutorials to be added to the pop-ups.

Remember: You need to strategically place UI elements at the right place and trigger them at the right time for the best customer onboarding experience.

Dave Rigotti, Co-founder of Inflection.io, also highlights in his article, “Have contextual help resources at each stage. Think of searchable knowledge bases, FAQs, and in-app tooltips. Make it easy for users and customers to access relevant information or a support resource when they need help.”

5. Test Your Walkthrough

After that, it's time to evaluate.

Start by trying the walkthrough yourself. Then, have other teams in your company try it, as they might notice things you missed. Finally, let a small group of users test it to see how most people will react and improve it if needed.

Gather consistent feedback and measure your success by assessing how many users adopted your target feature after the walkthrough release.

5 In-App Tutorial Examples

It may seem impossible to get the perfect in-app tutorial. It should be a manageable length. It should be the perfect length so users grasp the value of your product, at the same time, short enough to keep their attention.

Here are 5 in-app tutorial examples to get you inspired.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is a comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that offers a range of products for sales, marketing, and customer success.

Because it serves a broader user base, HubSpot defined a clear onboarding guide to facilitate self-serve onboarding. HubSpot's seamless customer onboarding experience makes it easier for anyone to start using their CRM. Their onboarding strategy is to walk users through every step required to set up the CRM. This way, users always know where to find a particular feature. Especially because HubSpot is a complex product, they must draw attention to the smaller details that may otherwise go overlooked.

Image of HubSpot’s in-app onboarding process and checklist

2. Grammarly

Grammarly's succinct product walkthrough using interactive guides and CTAs to determine the next step is another great example of an in-app tutorial. Note the skip button on the first screen of the walkthrough. It's important to give your users an option to opt out, should they want to.

Users are quickly guided to a video tour where Grammarly engages users through clickable GIFs.  Upon completing the video tour, users are redirected to a demo view to see Grammarly in action.

With the help of pulsing blue hotspots, Grammarly tells users what to click on next. 

The last step of the walkthrough is a demo document, where users get to check for grammatical errors and get familiar with Grammarly's glossary. 

GIF showcasing Grammarly’s product walkthrough

3. Slack

Slack is a popular messaging and collaboration platform used by businesses and teams for communication and teamwork.

Recently, Slack announced its new feature, Canvas. It's essentially docs for your chat, where teams can collaborate and brainstorm ideas in one shared space.

For its launch, Slack created an interactive walkthrough that highlighted all of Canvas' capabilities. Starting with a clever pop-up within the app, Slack illustrated the various benefits of Canvas by making users interact with it directly.

Then, with pop-up texts, Slack helped users navigate and adopt Canvas into their daily workflows.

Image of Slack’s product walkthrough

4. Fathom

Fathom is an AI Meeting Assistant that records, transcribes, highlights, and summarizes all meetings.

Upon installing the Chrome extension, Fathom takes users through a 7-step interactive walkthrough. 

A sample Zoom call shows up, eliminating the need for the user to create a new meeting. Then, fathom takes the user through each functionality via a self-paced guided tutorial.

Other than this, Fathom also offers a one-on-one onboarding call as well.

Image of Fathom’s onboarding process

5. Evernote

Evernote is an all-in-one organization tool that helps you take stock of and streamline your day. From taking notes to scheduling appointments, you can do it all. 

Since Evernote is a multifaceted app, during onboarding, they allow users to choose their use case. The app walkthrough is customized to each user's needs.

Image of Evernote’s product walkthrough
Image of Evernote’s product walkthrough

Benefits Of In-App Tutorials

The main purpose of an in-app tutorial is to drive product adoption through feature discovery and learning how to use the features.. In essence, in-app tutorials are vital in simplifying the user journey, saving time and money, and ultimately ensuring a more satisfied and self-sufficient customer base. Especially when you have a broader user base and self-serve onboarding is required for the growth of your business.

Let's look into various other reasons why in-app tutorials are beneficial:

1. Ease of Use

They make it easier for users, especially newcomers, to understand how to use the app or software effectively, reducing frustration and the learning curve.

2. Feature Discovery

They play an active role in ensuring all users are aware of and utilize the full range of features available - maximizing the value they get from the product. 

3. Self-paced Learning

No customer wants to spend hours with a sales rep or customer success manager to understand how to navigate your product.

In-app tutorials allow users to explore the product independently and give them an easy reference point for when they want to go over core features again.

4. Efficient Onboarding

In-app tutorials are major time-savers for new users, helping them learn how to use your app quickly and enjoy the customer onboarding experience. They improve the onboarding process by offering step-by-step guides within the app that show users how to use key features and complete important tasks. These tutorials bring that "aha!" moment when users grasp the value of your software closer, making their journey more effective and enjoyable.

5. Enhance Product Adoption

Most features are in the shadows because users don't know how to find them. Through quality walkthroughs of the product, your user base will know exactly where to look for the target feature and how to use it - virtually enabling users to realize its value. And when users adopt the product easily, they are more likely to continue using it over time - boosting customer retention.

6. Drive User Engagement

You want new users to engage with your product if you want them to stay. You must prompt them to click, scroll, or navigate to a different tab - any user action to get them to interact with your product. And once user engagement increases, they'll discover newer ways to utilize your product and derive value from it. 

7. User Acquisition

Offering users a taste of your product before they commit makes it easier to attract new users. In-app tutorials are valuable in introducing free trials for your software, which can help shorten the sales cycle. 

In Summary,

In the world of technology, learning and adapting to a product never ends. Even if you've been using it for a while, when the product gets updated, you start learning all over again. To help users make sense of these changes and get the most out of the product, app walkthroughs come into play.

App walkthroughs are like personal guides, showing you what's new and how to use it. This way, users become more self-sufficient and capable of making the most of your digital tools. So, whether you're new to the product or an active user, app walkthroughs make the journey smoother and more enjoyable.

Q1. What is the app walkthrough tutorial?

An app walkthrough is a detailed, interactive tutorial that guides users through a step-by-step guide to show your product around. 

Q2. What are the benefits of in-app guides?

In-app guides help users use the feature as intended, with the help of instructions provided directly within the product. This way, they don’t have to search support docs or get ona call with a specialist to understand how the feature works.

"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."
—CHRIS LANCASTER, SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT
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"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."
—CHRIS LANCASTER, SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT

"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."

—CHRIS LANCASTER, SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT

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