Onboarding team members

Transforming new team users in PDF masters.

The problem

There were two plans in Smallpdf directed to teams: the "Team plan" and the "Business plan." In those plans, one main admin user would be able to invite other team members to join their company workspace. Even though customers in these business plans tend to stick with us for twice as long as our customers from individual plans, invited members had trouble adopting the tools.

Gathering insights

The database revealed that roughly half of the invited team members actually created an account. And over half of individuals who signed up for an account never used a PDF tool provided by Smallpdf. Another intriguing trend was that customers tended to only use 1 tool out of the 22 available, despite the fact that we were aware of their need for many more.

User interviews from a study that was done around the purchase journey of business teams in Smallpdf shed light on why these trends occurred:

Having those insights in mind, we ideated solutions by asking ourselves important questions such as:

  1. HMW create a product offer that is highly visible and impossible to miss during the onboarding process?
  2. HMW allow users to find new applications of Smallpdf for their daily work?
  3. HMW make our communication with invited users feel personal and trustworthy?

We detected and worked on some quick wins, following we'll detail the case of the Onboarding Tasks idea. Thi initiative was chosen for its potential to impact new users from all Smallpdf plans

The Concept

After users sign up for the team account, we prompt a 4 step onboarding widget to let them discover Smallpdf. It would serve as guide, based on tasks to complete, that were chosen strategically based on the tools usage of Teams in Smallpdf, and consecutive rewards.

The hypothesis was that, getting new users to do some "welcome" tasks could make our product easier and more fun to discover. This would lead to users exploring our product more and having a "aha!" moments faster. When a team member was happy and active, a their team account stayed with the us longer.

The tasks were defined based on usage data (what were the tasks more relevant for the user's segment?). After users completed a task, we had an amusing text and animation as a reward.

Concept validation

Once the concept was ready, we set up a test with users to see how well it worked. We wanted to know if the non-linear experience of the checklist pattern was easy to understand, and therefore We thought a moderate session would be more productive.

The usability test gave us some insight on some areas of improvement. Those were the main takeaways:

Visual designs


While this project was taking shape, the research team worked on an extensive study to discover what our Ideal Customer Profiles are (ICPs). By the time we released the onboarding tasks, the Growth team wanted to expand the concept to all Smallpdf users and do a second round with tasks based on the three profiles we had found: content creators, operational folks, legal peeps.

Results & Learnings

Along with other initiatives, we could increase from 24% to 47% the total number of invited members who used a single tool and from 4.7% to 16% the number of users who opened a second tool in the first month. Yearly retention and churn rates didn't reach significance though.

The onboarding didn’t have the impact we hoped for single PRO users though – there was a +1.9% increased in Eureka reached (eureka was an important moment in our customer journey – it happens when a user uses more than one tool in one session) and in general we had a positive impact on retention (+1.3 increase in second week retention). No major impact on the key metrics.

We believe that this strategy worked better with an invited team member rather than a regular PRO user, is because when a regular PRO user signs up, they usually have a certain goal in mind to achieve and are not in an exploring mindset.

About me

Rick Ferreira

I am a curious Product Designer, trying to balance technology and human needs to create intuitive and user-centered experiences. My little boston terrier dog is my biggest inspiration: I work, so he can have a happy life. As a result, I studied Digital Design in Brazil (ECDD) and Design of Apps and Interactive Services in Barcelona (ELISAVA) and accumulated 5+ years of experience designing digital products.

In my free time I like to take some drone pictures, fill my house with plants and hate the Game of Thrones ending.

Download my CV

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or email me to henrique.hof@gmail.com