What you’ll Master:

Onboarding customers is super important. Getting  customers to your site is hard, you either spend a fortune driving traffic from adverts at a .4% CTR or time on a blog like this, or both. Either way your customers first experience is going to answer all their questions (or not) and you’re not going to be there to help. This blog will help you master some of the points below.

Onboarding tour for Bullet online accounts. Tips you’d master

  • Why mastery is important
  • Software to use for onboarding
  • Problems to avoid
  • A video walkthrough of Bullets onboarding


In Bullet we face a particular problem in that our product ‘online accounts‘, is targeting reluctant accountants, in the form of small business owners. So we face a problem of getting the power of our accounts product to a customer that doesn’t really understand accounts. As part of our company onboarding we actively worked hard to reduce any friction, for example we only ask for you VAT number when you’re creating your first VAT invoice. Bullet is full of clever little tricks like that. Sitting behind that simple interface is a full double entry accounting and payroll solution. It would be on the same grade as Sage Line 50, a product accountants would use.

But this was a double edged sword. Businesses owners expect their accounting experience to be horrible and hard. Even Xero’s signup process requires you to contact an accountant (I suspect that’s part growth hack too) but it’s still all ledger based, others are 4 page signups. So, by creating a simple press and go experience we left the user feeling anxious and asking questions like, ‘Am I setup’, ‘Is this thing working’.

The other issue we had with the simple UI look, is people started to compare us to very basic money in/money out tools. Unlike the real world where you need to be qualified to call yourself an accountant, you could embed an online calculator in a web page and call it ‘Online Accounts’. But, like I mentioned Bullet is very large and very angry number crunching monster, dressed in a tutu.

So this blog is the first of many posts we’ll do on our product, the problems we made, our thinking behind our choices and hopefully help you build better solutions.

How to do it:

John, my co-founder and CTO and I, had talked about our onboarding problems. To find a solution we simply set out to talk to everyone that signed-up to Bullet and learn from them. All product people are guilty for ‘hypothesising’ to much, when a simple question can give you the answer the alchemist in you couldn’t. We created a little spreadsheet and tracked all the interview comments like this.

Onboarding Bullet Online Accounts Q&A

We had originally placed videos in the start page of each new section, but noticed that nobody was clicking on them. Both of us liked the idea of getting the user to tour our product’s powerful features through the product itself.

So John set about looking for tools. He looked at walkme.com but we just wanted a simple solution, he then stumbled across this great little free product called Intro.js on github. I’d been reading up alot on onboarding, but with a real focus on making users feel empowered after using our Bullet, remember these are reluctant accountants, they don’t like numbers. This lead me to this fantastic talk by Kathy Sierra on making your users feel bad ass, I’ll go into this in a later post. The guts of her talk is about getting users to master a task, so they feel empowered.

Everyone likes sending invoices, so with that in mind myself and John mapped out the current user flow for creating invoices on post-it notes. From there we highlighted points of importance. You know, hard things Bullet makes easy, like ‘Multi-currency invoicing’, ‘How we build your VAT Returns form the invoice’, and a new feature we’re pushing ‘Invoice read receipts’. From this John used our key points as the steps in our tour using the intro.js software.

From this we did our first test. Disaster, the javascript ‘tool tip’, defaults to white so nobody saw it. Seeing as we also wanted people to use the product during the tour we hit some problems with Bullets pop-outs sitting behind the Intro.js overlay.  John spent a day fixing these, and we ran a basic test again, with better results. We then took a sample of 6 people and sent them an invite to test bullet’s onboarding process. We tracked the responses in a spreadsheet which I’ve attached below. 6 isn’t exactly scientific (eoghan) but you’ll spot a pattern pretty quick. Most of the fixes were copy changes, but everybody spotted the horrible yellow and most importantly people got the 3 points,  ‘Multi-currency invoicing’, ‘How we build your VAT Returns form the invoice’, and ‘Invoice read receipts’, the other items we’d be fixing with new look and feel.

Onboarding Bullet Online Accounts Feeback


The take home:

So the key things I’d say we learnt from it.

  • ASK YOUR USERS WTF IS GOING WRONG. Yes I’m shouting. A simple mail with ‘Help!’, in the title works a treat.
  • Keep it stone age, leave the crazy data stuff at home for the day.
  • Think about your user, and what THEY would like to Master.
  • Map out your current workflow.
  • Then map the points of Mastery YOUR USERS would like to achieve.
  • Do your first test with whoever is at hand, and fix.
  • Send out to some friendly’s and track responses in two mails. 1) Pls try, 2) What did you learn, how did you feel after.
  • Launch, and watch.

I hope that helps. We’ll follow up with how we got on and write more about the things we’ve learned from the mistakes we’ve made.

Bullet Online Accounts


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