Inline Manual Blog

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Watch this webinar for inspiring examples of user onboarding

3 months ago

This webinar includes websites that have the best user onboarding flows and explains why. In 17 minutes, you’ll finish with practical ideas and inspiration.

It’s easier to understand user onboarding best practices from real-life examples. Watch this webinar for examples of websites that have the best user onboarding flows.

Marek Sotak shows you sites and applications that have great onboarding processes and he explains why. You’ll finish this webinar with lots of ideas for user onboarding which you can take to your site.

There are many tools available for in-app guidance, and many companies do it in house with full teams of developers. If you’re wondering how you can create the best in-app onboarding experience for your users without any coding, request a product demo of Inline Manual.

You can also sign up to our next live webinar on 18 May 2017 for a product overview of Inline Manual.


New release: Improved translation workflow and more

4 months ago

With our clients, we’re helping onboard, convert, and engage new customers all around the world. When you’re reaching a global audience, multilingual support is crucial. We’ve introduced an easier translation workflow which enterprise applications need for global reach at scale.

Thanks to your feedback, we've also improved the Topic display, giving you quicker access to details and saving you time in targeting your messages to users.

Here are some more details about today’s release.

Improved translations workflow for multilingual content

Many of our customers have global audiences, and they need a way to translate content quickly. With Inline Manual, you can already translate your interactive walkthroughs into any language. Once you’re translating to several languages, the workflow gets trickier.

Now Standard Pro and Enterprise customers can export content, translate it in another application, and then import translated content. For a limited time, we’re allowing all account levels to try out this feature.

This new workflow will make it easier to write and manage translations. You can export and import the translation files as CSV or Excel files. In those files, your content editors can edit the HTML source and any tokens you’re using. Then you can import the translation file back.

Translating a walkthrough

Use AND/OR to target your messages.

By default, topics are available to Everyone. With segmentation you can make topics only available to your chosen segments. For example, you may want to add articles and walkthroughs which only administrators and editors can see.

You told us you were creating additional segments to handle these cases. Now, we've made it easier so you can use both AND and OR operators to combine segments. Find out how.

User new operators to choose segments

See tags when viewing your Topic list

Now you can see the tags assigned to a topic, right on the topic list in your Site.

By using tags, administrators can quickly see which content they are working on. When you’re using Segmentation to offer unique content to different types of users, it can get confusing if you have topics with the same names. That’s just one way to use tags.

Topic tags


We’re hearing more and more from our customers that they are reaching audiences at a larger scale than ever before. That is such great news! The new translation workflow makes it smoother and faster to communicate to a global audience.

New release: Better interactivity, integrations and targeting

5 months ago

We’re so excited to share this much-anticipated release with you. With new integrations and flexible customization options, you will have more insight into and control over your content. This release includes something for everyone.

  • Custom Step Templates for consistent branding across your content.
  • Persistent Steps to continue a walkthrough while users explore.
  • Device targeting to send messages users on mobile or desktop separately with autolaunchers.
  • Use regex (regular expressions) to target your autolaunchers to the right users.
  • Send data about your users to Third Party Analytics [beta].
  • Article Topic Type can be translated now.

And we’re also introducing a new way to give you access to upcoming releases with a Gradual Rollout.

Check out the release notes for more details.

Here are some highlights.

Introducing Gradual Rollout

Customers choose Inline Manual because of the flexibility and control. This means you’re building dynamic walkthroughs and creating some brilliant integrations. We carefully test each release, and we know you want to test it too. If you have advanced customizations, enable the Beta version on your staging site before rolling it out to production.

You have a two week period to switch to the new player version on your sites. At the end of two weeks, the player will go live for everyone, across all sites. If you do find problems, contact our support team.

Sign up to our Developer Mailing List to get updates.

Beta version option

More ways to auto-launch walkthroughs such as for mobile or desktop users

Use the new Advanced Activation Rules for Autolaunchers to control who sees your walkthroughs and when.

  • Target specific devices and launch a walkthrough weather a user is on desktop or mobile.
  • Use regular expressions (regex) to match URLs, and autolaunch interactive walkthroughs when users are in specific parts of your site or application.

Track user interaction with Third Party Analytics

Standard Plan and Enterprise users can now track when users complete tutorials or reach specific steps in Google Analytics, Kissmetrics or Segments. These new player integrations send event information to your third party analytics services.

Find out how to set it up and start sending your data to an analytics service.

We’d love your feedback about this new feature. We've built a solid framework to easily add any one way integrations, so more will come soon. Give us a shout and tell us what you would like to see!


Consistent branding with Custom Step Templates

When you create in-app walkthroughs they should look and feel like part of your application. Now it’s easier to get consistent branding by using our newly released feature: Custom Step Templates.

Custom step templates

Up until recently we provided a default Step Templates which allowed authors to choose a design as a starting point. To use the default templates, you would select which template you want to start with, and then edit the content or the HTML.

Now create your own Custom Step Templates which your content creators can use as starting points. This will help your teams deliver content with consistent graphics and copy.

Our customers already get full branding control through the design tools and custom CSS. And now with Custom Step Templates, they can get consistent branding no matter who is authoring the content.

Book a personalized demo

Considering Inline Manual for

  • user onboarding?
  • self-service and contextual help?
  • or employee training?

We'll quickly show you how Inline Manual can help.

Request a full product demo

What can game mechanics teach us about interactive walkthroughs?

6 months ago

Interactive walkthroughs are one of the key user engagement patterns that came from gaming. Game designers discovered a way to get players up-to-speed quicker. Instead of referring players to manuals - interactive walkthroughs put the user in control. A player sees a sparkling door, they click on the door, and the adventure begins!

What can we learn from gaming to apply to application design, user onboarding and interactive walkthroughs? First we'll look at why we should take gaming seriously. And then we'll look at three simple ways you can make your interactive walkthroughs more engaging.

Make interactive walkthroughs more engaging

Taking Gaming Seriously

The brain is still mystifying scientists. One theory suggests that “dopamine invigorates actions toward desired goal” and another that “dopamine is a teaching signal.” Either way, it looks like dopamine plays a vital role in motivation and learning. And now scientists are looking at how games stimulate dopamine, and how that in turn, increases motivation to continue playing.

We can learn a lot from gaming about stimulating motivation in users. The notion of gamification conjures up ideas of employing game mechanics like badge collecting and point scoring. Yet, Product Marketers and Product Managers don’t need to be so literal with interpreting game mechanics.

Games demonstrate social psychology and concepts in behavioral economics that product designers can build into their applications. So this weekend, why not spend some time playing a game? All for research purposes, of course. The next time you do, observe these concepts in action and consider how to apply that to your user onboarding experience.

Apply Game Mechanics in Web Applications to increase User Engagement

With the first time user experience in mind, here are some tactics you can employ in your plans to slowly reveal advanced tools, functionality and concepts at just the right time in the user's journey.

Each of these game design tactics correlate to design concepts in web applications. For example, the sparkling items or “pulsing circles” in games indicate what players can interact with. In a web application, a Product Marketer can place cues like Launchers which are “baked into the gameplay” of someone using an application. Users can click, launch the tour and learn-while-doing.

Other game mechanics correlate well to web application design.

  • Starting areas in games are like your Blank or Empty States in a web application. Deliberate gaps and clear calls to action motivate users to complete and fill out the missing items.
  • Leveling up in a game can be like Progressive disclosure in a web application. As your skills improve, you get ever more complex spells and harder but appropriate challenges.
  • Immersive game play is like the consistent branding and experience of an application.

Find out more here:

Product Marketers are looking for ways to create custom user onboarding experiences and interactive walkthroughs, which they can’t build into the application.

How can you apply this ideas to the user onboarding experience?

Three simple ways to make user onboarding more engaging

Over at Gamasutra, they applied theories from motivational psychology to explain gamer behavior. What made some activities more sticky and addictive?

Perhaps some concepts are quite gaming specific: “Rewards that are unpredictable (loot drops) are generally more motivating than rewards that are predictable (100 xp per monster)” That type of advice might be trickier to apply in the context of using an application.

There are three ideas Gamasutra highlights which are immediately useful to apply to user onboarding.

  1. Show users progress.
  2. Provide a meaningful reward.
  3. Reinforce the message.

Where’s the best place to demonstrate these three? As part of your walkthrough! Let’s break these down.

1. Show Users Progress

After your users complete tasks, keep track of their progress. Here’s an easy way to do this:

  • Start step 1 of your tour with a check list. This is an outline of what they will accomplish.
  • After each task is completed, display the checklist again, with one item marked off.
  • Continue through the steps until the tasks are done.

This is a simple trick - but it also gives you an easy way to reinforce your message.

2. Provide a Meaningful Reward

Use encouraging words and graphics - but make sure to connect them to a real result. “Great job!” really should mean something.

Start your tours by offering a tangible benefit. We looked at crafting that offer in our post on how to create short and practical interactive walkthroughs.

When users opt in, they should know what the offer is. For example:

“Do you want to [do task] so that you can [gain benefit]?”

When they finish, you should be able to demonstrate the meaningful reward of achieving that benefit. If they signed to get a free valuation or to create a free asset, that is your meaningful reward.

3. Reinforce the message

Don't miss out on the chance to reinforce your message. The final step in your user onboarding tour should relate back to the promise you made.

Remind users of what they have achieved e.g., “You’ve just finished…” or what they received, e.g., “Here’s your new... “ Games tally up experience points to remind uses of the time and work they invested, and what they achieved. In the same way, remind users of what they've already invested in your application. This helps them connect what they did to the value they experienced.

Now you can reiterate your overarching message and the next call to action.


Game mechanics are already widespread in application and software design.

If you take gamification too literally by building in point-scoring or other gimmicks, it might not fit your application. And even game designers can improve their user onboarding game, as Samuel Hulick shows in his recent tear down of the Super Mario Game onboarding,

We should look to games to inspire designs of interactive walkthroughs. By giving your first time users clear goals (quests!) and rewards, help them stay motivated to get their work done, and bring them closer to success with your application.

How many things are truly rewarding in our daily work? We have multiple tasks on our plates every day, loose threads, and open feedback loops. Getting something useful done with a tangible benefit is incredibly valuable, and why not celebrate it?

With a few simple improvements we can make an interactive walkthrough more engaging, motivating. Users will get a greater sense of accomplishment, and the path to success will be immediately visible.

So the next time you play a game, think of how the game shows you progress, gives meaningful rewards, and reinforces the message.

Your product tour is probably too long. KISS it with Task-based user onboarding.

6 months ago

Product Managers and Product Marketers come to us when they realize they need an interactive walkthrough or a product tour for user onboarding. However, we advise our new customers to consider task-based user onboarding. That is, instead of “onboarding features” try “onboarding goals.”

Your product and service value proposition addresses the overarching pain points and needs for users, with your products many features and capabilities. How can you make that tangible for new users without overwhelming them? Tours should offer clearly articulated benefits. Each tour topic can break down a lofty goal into manageable tasks. These tasks- representing the tangible value of your product - get your users on the path to success.

In this article, we look at how to lead your first-time users to the highest impact features to them experience the value of your product.

User onboarding from the users perspective

Change the perspective: Focus on users’ needs instead of your product features

If you’re creating user onboarding content for new users, you’re probably thinking about feature adoption.

We noticed that when product managers and product marketers start using Inline Manual, they dive in deep. They create multiple interactive walkthroughs and product tours with 20 or 30 steps. They pull users across their application with enthusiasm: Here’s this feature! Here’s that feature!

It’s is a classic mistake in product marketing, to focus so much on the bells and whistles of product features rather than the benefits and results that users need.

It also presents a danger. A long product tour is tricky to maintain and hard for users to follow. Long tours present information out of context. You may show them configuration options or features they don't even need yet. Because of that, long product tours also run the risk of failing to demonstrate the key value of the product at all.

Prompt users with an offer they can’t refuse

Turn the tables with your user onboarding content and look at onboarding from the user's perspective. Users don't need learn everything about your product when they first sit down with it. They have a specific problem, and they want to solve it. How can your web application help? To help them, make a reaching goal the result of your first tour.

Start creating your offer by articulating the user’s goals.

  • What are your customers’ most important goals?
  • How do they describe these goals in their own words?

Next, connect those goals to tasks they can complete and actions they can take right now in your application.

Then you must narrow it down. Choose one to start with. An ideal task would be something which has a clear result or end point. Then the final step will demonstrate: “HEY! You did it!”

Now, make your offer by providing a clear motivation. Rather than a vague “Welcome tour” - you invite users to gain a tangible benefit.

  • Do [task] so that you will [achieve goal].
  • Or swap it around to say: [Reach goal] by [completing task].

Here are some examples:

  • Do you want to connect your account to see where you can save money? (Do you want to ___ so you can ___?)
  • Complete your profile so that clients can find you. (Do ___ so that you can ____.)
  • Take the first step to financial freedom by calculating your budget. (Reach goal by _____.)

The offer is the first part of your first onboarding walkthrough or tour.

KISS it: Start with your offer and then deliver it.

Keep these three parts in mind when you’re planning your tour. KISS it. (Keep it simple, stupid.)

  1. Start with the offer as outlined above. Demonstrates your product’s value proposition.
  2. Next, guide users to take the minimum steps in your app.
  3. Land with success. Show them results and congratulate them on what they achieved or created.

For example, say you have an application with brilliant analysis tools, but users can’t see how they work until they connect to a data source. Your interactive walkthrough can prompt the user to authorize the integration. Then show them the results. In these quick three steps, they get to that “A-ha! Moment."

Here’s example user onboarding walkthrough

  • Step 1: The first step is the offer which makes the benefit and task clear. Do you want to [task] so you can [benefit] right now? User clicks "Next" to start the interactive walkthrough.
  • Step 2. Prompt users to take action, by highlighting interaction in your app. User clicks the element, which goes to the next step.
  • Pro-tip: Skip steps which say “click here to go somewhere." Instead, redirect users if needed to the right place in your application.
  • Step 3? Be careful adding each step - keep the tour as short as possible.
  • Final step: Show the results of what they have completed in the interactive walkthrough, and reiterate the benefits they have just experienced.

The great thing is, if this is your first user onboarding tour, then continue to build these task-based tours. Collect them in the Widget where users will refer back to them later.

Widget showing topics and tasks in sidebar


It seems to make sense to focus on feature adoption during free trials. However, that perspective makes it difficult to communicate value. Turn the table and look at it from the user’s perspective. Instead of long product tours, you should start with the simplest tour and make sure it’s goal-driven.

Starting with the offer is important. In this way, you invite to opt-in to taking a tour, so you’re not highjacking their experience. Then when you’re finished, you get another chance to reiterate that benefit and put it in the context of your overall product value proposition.

When your free trial users see that the benefits outweigh the cost, they are closer to conversion. We’ll look at communicating that value in our next post next week.

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