Post-purchase onboarding flow


The Key



I designed a new onboarding experience that makes it super easy for school leaders to sign up and start using The Key's services. Journey mapping, prototyping and user testing were essential to the project's success.

In 2020, I delivered a new post-purchase onboarding experience for schools taking out membership of The Key's information services for schools, The Key for School Leaders and The Key for School Governors.

The overarching business goal was to enable the school's entire leadership team to make optimum use of The Key, so that the school would be happy to continue their annual subscription when the service came up for renewal.

We aimed to make it much easier for schools to roll out our services to their leadership team, and to ensure that everyone on their leadership team signed up and started using our services. We defined a number of success metrics; for instance, we aimed for at least 80% of schools purchasing The Key to reach the target number of registered users within 2 weeks of joining.

What I did

Methodologies used

  • Stakeholder workshops
  • User journey mapping
  • Usability testing
  • Prototyping / wireframing
  • UI design
  • Analytics

Journey mapping and ideation

To kick off the project, the UX team ran workshops with internal stakeholders (Dec 2019), including members of our sales, marketing, product, tech and customer support teams. In these workshops, we mapped out how we currently onboard new customers, and also mapped out a better experience for this.

Stakeholder workshop in December 2019


Based on these workshops, we created detailed journey maps showing both the current experience, as well as detailed maps of the proposed new experience.

User journey map


Prototyping and testing

Next, I created a clickable, high-fidelity prototype of the post-purchase onboarding flow using Axure. We opted for this prototyping tool because it allows for complex interactions, so our prototype could closely approximate the real experience.

Prototype screen: inviting colleagues to sign up


I then ran a usability test (April 2020) to test how the concept landed with real users and to identify any issues. We chose to go with a quite small number of participants (5 different schools) to ensure that usability testing could be carried out in a relatively short time. The test was run entirely remotely as this was during the Covid-19 lockdown. Participants were asked to share their screen and run through the prototype onboarding flow, while my team and I observed, took notes and asked questions.

Prototype: onboarding flow


The testing found that the flow worked well overall. Participants clearly understood what it was for and how it benefited them. The task was perceived as relatively short and quick.

However, the testing also revealed some usability issues that needed to be addressed. After sharing and discussing the findings with the team, we made some tweaks to the designs.

Design and build

I created high-fidelity UI designs for all devices based on the initial prototype, and then supported the development team in building, testing and releasing the new functionality.

Furthermore, I worked with the marketing team to design an end-to-end welcome email journey for both new customers and newly registered users. This included the triggers and timings of the welcome emails as well as the copy and UX/UI design of the individual emails. My journey map for the welcome emails is shown below:

Welcome email journey



Once the new onboarding flow went live (July 2020), we used Hotjar and other analytics tools like Tableau to track how well the flow performed. Below is an example Hotjar recording of a user going through the flow:

Hotjar recording


We found that most users who go through the onboarding flow are able to complete the task in minutes, without experiencing any noticeable frustrations or blockers. They can easily invite everyone on their leadership team to sign up for The Key.

In the first few weeks (7-29 July), 92.9% of schools reached a higher number of registered users than the target we had set - well above the 80% we were aiming for. We did note that the overall success rate was lower (58.7%), as this also included schools that got their membership indirectly, as part of a group deal with the local council or another overarching organisation.

57.5% of users successfully completed the journey. 36 of the 82 schools that went through the onboarding flow (43.9%) succesfully confirmed or invited users with key (decision-making) roles, such as the headteacher and school business manager. 39 of the 82 schools (47.6%) also invited others on their school's leadership team to join The Key.

The next steps in this project are to keep tracking the flow’s performance longer-term, and identify any potential changes to the flow that can boost conversion rates.

I also designed a separate post-purchase onboarding experience for multi-academy trusts, to help them easily roll out The Key membership to all the schools within their trust. This went live in August 2020.

Takeaways and lessons learned

Prototyping and testing with users before starting to build proved key to the success of the project. Without the insights from this qualitative data, we would have had to rely on assumptions that would likely have proven wrong.

However, testing with just 5 users proved risky and, in retrospect, it would have been worth spending a bit more time testing with more participants. This would have us saved time further along the road, because we could have avoided building functionality that wasn't actually needed.

For example, the test found that many school leaders would delegate the onboarding task to an admin, so we built functionality that gave them an easy way to delegate the task. In reality, most users carried out the task themselves, or chose to simply skip it.

The test also showed that remote user testing, using screen-sharing over a videoconferencing tool (we used Google Meet) can be as effective as in-person (on-location) testing. However, some participants struggled with technical issues, showing how essential it is to provide clear joining instructions to participants, use videoconferencing technology familiar to the participant when possible, and allow for additional time for participants to get the technology working.