John Quealy

Onboarding at NationBuilder

I was responsible for a redesign of the onboarding experience to improve our trial conversion rate.

  • Product Design
  • Product Strategy
  • User Research

NationBuilder is the most widely used community organizing software in the world, powering everything from local nonprofits to first-tier presidential campaigns.


Because NationBuilder was about to increase its customer acquisition efforts, it was my responsibility to redesign the onboarding experience to improve trial conversions.

Understanding the Customer Journey

To learn more about the current efforts around acquiring and converting new trials, I interviewed the VP of Customer Success and a few members of her team.

From these discussions I found:

This presented an opportunity:

How might we motivate users to try one core feature within their first session so that they were more likely to convert?

Defining the Problem

To establish a better picture of the onboarding flow and any existing issues:

I found that the existing signup flow was 14 steps long, spread between two distinctly separate processes, and took an average of 20 minutes to complete.

I hypothesized that getting users into the product faster would encourage them to spend that time exploring the product, making them more likely to use a core feature and convert.

Exploring Ideas

Using my research, I created a list of recommendations for how we could optimize the onboarding flow and get users into the product faster. In particular, I focused on:

To test my assumptions, I conducted 10 internal interviews across our customer-facing teams, asking about which steps they felt caused the most trouble for users or that they thought should be removed.

Refining the Solution

From my internal interviews, I discovered that a question at the end of the onboarding process asking about use case was considered to be one of the most important for engagement.

I realized that by moving use case to the beginning of the process it opened up the opportunity to tailor the entire onboarding experience around its specific needs, such as using familiar language, setting appropriate defaults, and highlighting relatable examples.


We unified the signup and onboarding flows into one process, reducing the number of steps from 14 to 6 and cutting completion time in half. This enabled users to spend more of their first session using the product and thus more likely to convert.