guided tours

Guided Tours: Discover How Walkthroughs Improve User-Experience & Drive Adoption

Guided tours are in-app tutorials that guide new users through a SaaS tool’s user interface (UI) and key features. Also known as guided walkthroughs, they help enterprise SaaS companies simplify the user onboarding process.


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What Is a Guided Tour?

The common misconception is that guided tours are simply automated versions of traditional user onboarding. But guided tours are more than just pop-ups that provide feature overviews—they’re integral parts of SaaS user experience that combine different design elements to make onboarding more efficient.

A modern guided tour combines different UI patterns like pop-ups, interactive walkthroughs, beacons, tooltips, and explainer videos to allow new users to learn in the flow of work.These patterns offer more contextual guidance that creates a stronger first impression with new users. That strong first impression improves product adoption rates compared to traditional user onboarding.

Why Does a Software/Application Require Guided Tour ?

A well-designed guided tour streamlines the new user onboarding process. It helps new users understand features and UI elements faster than if they had to learn entirely on their own. The more sophisticated your product, the more important it is to have a guided tour that guides users through the learning curve.

Guided Tours drive feature usage and engagement, fosters a self-serve culture and reduces time-to-value. And when implemented well, they increase product adoption while reducing inbound support calls and the need for manual training.

Effective guided tours streamline the path to value recognition of the software/application in three key ways.


  • They simplify the user experience. Guided tours simplify enterprise SaaS learning curves by teaching users how to use key features that are most relevant to their roles.
  • They drive meaningful action. Effective guided tours guide users to take meaningful action instead of providing passive overviews of key features. This “learning by doing” maximizes knowledge retention so users can master your product faster.
  • They improve engagement. Well-designed guided tours reduce friction in the user onboarding process. When the first experience with your product goes smoothly, users are more likely to remain engaged and recognize the value of your tool.

The Primary UI Patterns for Designing Great Guided Tours

There are two steps to deciding which UI patterns to use for your guided tour: learning the different UI patterns available to you and understanding their unique strengths.

digital adoption platform (DAP) gives you access to the five key UI patterns that make up effective guided tours. Combine these different options to create the perfect guided tour for your unique SaaS experience.

Pop-ups : Quickly engage users and explain the value of your application with pop-up elements in your guided tour. Pop-ups can be simple splash screen graphics. Or they can be modal windows that require users to take action.

Interactive walkthroughs : Provide step-by-step instructions for key workflows. Users see these instructions as they follow the steps of your guided tour, learning about processes as they work. Product walkthroughs are especially useful for simplifying the training processes for complex enterprise applications. You can use them to engage users both during initial onboarding and when you roll out new features.

Beacons : Create alerts that draw user attention to certain elements of your application. You can deliver crucial information about feature updates, workflow changes, and advanced use cases with these UI patterns. Beacons allow users to interact with training material when they’re ready, which is key to a self-serve onboarding process.

Tooltips : Give users a quick overview of what a feature or UI element can do. Tooltips don’t prompt action from users. Instead, they convey key information in a way that’s less obtrusive than guided product walkthroughs.

Explainer Videos : Combine this guided tour UI pattern with pop-up modal windows to create engaging welcome messages for new users. When users log in for the first time, you can present a video overview of your product’s key features. This is an effective way to engage first-time users and increase the likelihood that they complete key actions.

No matter how you combine your guided tour UI patterns, the goal remains the same—give users prompts to learn your application in an interactive way. The most well-designed guided tours engage people at all stages of the tech adoption curve without frustrating tech-savvy users or overwhelming slower adopters.

The 5 Best Guided Tour Software Tools in 2021

The best guided tour software tools fall under the category of digital adoption platforms. These kinds of tools integrate with your application to present users with all of the most important guided tour UI patterns. Digital adoption platforms give you an all-in-one solution for creating guided tours, distributing the content, and analyzing its performance.

Here are a few of the best DAPs that can serve your guided tour platform needs. Check out the articles linked below linked articles for a full overview of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses:

  • WhatfixThe most flexible product software tool for creating contextual guidance and self-help material that’s segmented for specific user roles.
  • AppcuesThis DAP focuses on product-led growth. It fully integrates with your product to make UI patterns appear native and give users a consistent experience. However, the analytics features aren’t as robust as competitors.
  • WalkMeThis DAP offers one of the most robust feature sets on the market. But it’s not the easiest platform to use. In many cases, you might need help from IT to create your guided tour content.
  • PendoThe main selling point for Pendo is its product usage insights. The platform provides deep insight into how customers interact with your product, making it easier to identify what’s needed most from guided tours. However, Pendo offers fewer self-help content creation and distribution features than other guided tour platform options.
  • UserlaneAn easy-to-use DAP that caters mostly to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). This tool has plenty of content creation features for SMB-level guided tours. But enterprises with complex SaaS tools may need a more robust DAP that provides greater flexibility and options for customization.

Selecting the Best Guided Tour Solution

Guided tour software varies significantly in their features and functionalities. On one hand low-end products create simple walkthroughs while enterprise-grade solutions leverage robust analytics and automation to increase user-efficiency. Here are a few key factors for selecting the best guided tour platform-

  • Simple Interface: A guided tour platform should have an easy interface to work with. The editor should allow easy creation of walkthroughs. No coding platforms do not require any prior HTML knowledge and allow users to create walkthroughs without any change in the existing code.
  • Self-Service: To reduce support tickets organizations should look for guided tour platforms which encourage users to find solutions to their queries within the tool. Features like a self-help widget reduces dependence on the support teams and provide support to customers in need.
  • Personalization: An efficient guided tour software should aim at a high level of personalization as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Guided tours should be intelligently segmented according to user attributes like job role and function. This personalization ensures users remain active and engaged with your software application.
  • Pricing: Finally, pricing is of utmost importance while selecting a guided tour platform. Look for the solution vendors which offer flexi-pricing in accordance with the selected features instead of a rigid pricing approach.

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