How to Improve User Onboarding by Investing in Software Documentation

According to a Kickstart Alliance study, poor onboarding is the leading cause for customers to churn in the first 90 days of product usage. Along with poor customer service and engagement, poor onboarding accounts for 52% of the reasons why customers leave.

To prevent early churn and get market advantage, investing in software documentation is one of the best strategies a company can adopt to help technical and non-technical users adopt the product better than competitors.

In this article, we will go through what you must know about user onboarding, how software documentation can help this process, the top problems you may face, and how to solve them by doing great content.

What is User Onboarding

User onboarding is the process of making a new customer adopt the product. Since building a simple and intuitive product is every company’s lifetime challenge, user onboarding is one of the best allies to ease the friction while the customers learn how to use the product.

Technical documentation plays a big part in this challenge by providing helpful information at the right time and format. Since the product may have technical and non-technical users, software documentation must consider both during the process.

Focusing on softwares that require API integration in order to perform properly, a Postman survey revealed that “developers may say they hate documenting, but they want documentation, and they want it to be good.” So, regarding technical users that depend on software documentation to make the systems communicate, giving a special attention to this type of user and their needs is strategic to prevent early churn.

Technical Writers’ Methods for User Onboarding

Technical documentation, provided by specialized technical writers, usually appears as Software Documentation, Developer Guides, Interactive Tutorials, Video Tutorials, and variations. They can be focused on teaching, problem-solving, or purely to inform technical and non-technical users about the product.

The methods to provide onboarding documentation are different for technical and non-technical users. Suppose the users need practical steps or only theoretical knowledge. In that case, the mentioned formats can progress into different types of content as long as they inform the user to achieve its goal.

Also, the content format can vary as long as the onboarding process evolves. By the time the users assimilate the solution, their maturity grows, and their needs change, highlighting the importance of adapting the documentation as the process flows. Technical writers usually have the skills to go through each stage and complexity level with mastery to reduce the process friction and lead the user efficiently toward success.

Top 3 Documentation Problems on User Onboarding

Many problems derive from poor documentation, and they sound different when we separate them into technical and non-technical customers. We selected the top 3 issues that can sabotage your user onboarding process and how to solve them.

Decreased User Engagement and Adoption

Due to a lack of documentation, technical users may struggle to understand the main features and the best practices for implementation and integration. This friction leads to frustration, lack of engagement, slow adoption, and consequent churn.

You can solve this by providing comprehensive technical documentation, including installation guides, API documentation, and developer guides. Also, interactive tutorials and code samples are welcome.

Depending on the complexity of your software’s learning curve, non-technical users who don’t receive clear guidance during the onboarding may find the product confusing or even overwhelming. This friction prevents full adoption, reducing engagement and leading to early churn.

This onboarding must be user-friendly and provide clear instructions with minimal steps. Interactive tours, tooltips, and video tutorials can be some of the ways that the documentation can help this kind of user.

Increased Support Requests and Workload

With low onboarding resources and a lack of technical documentation, technical and non-technical users may encounter more challenges and friction while adopting the product. Lost users require more human support, and the increase in workload over the support team can be overwhelming—slower response and resolution times, negatively impacting user experience and satisfaction.

For technical users, you can invest in thorough technical support documentation, including troubleshooting guides and FAQs. Also, you can take the user feedback into account to keep your documentation updated and relevant.

For non-technical users, a knowledge base where they can find their answers with autonomy can be a good catch. Documentation is an excellent ally to unloading the support team workload. They can solve the high volume of simple doubts and problems of any non-technical user.

Negative User Experience and Churn

If the onboarding documentation is considered difficult to understand or doesn’t meet the technical users’ expectations, they will be the first to encourage cancellation and go for a competitor. Even if they won’t be the user who will utilize the product daily, they heavily influence the final decision.

A way to avoid this is to keep improving the user experience by gathering feedback and using the pain points to build accurate and user-friendly  API documentation, user guides, and tutorials.

For non-technical users, the ones without a technical background, poor onboarding can lead them to frustration and confusion. The negative experience can be contoured by crafting documentation based on their main pain points and user journeys. Also, knowing how to match software instructions with its value proposition helps increase user adoption.


User onboarding is becoming one of the most important factors when discussing customer retention in software. Technical documentation is vital in educating and informing the users to improve product adoption to reduce the friction of new customers.

Companies can enjoy great results at a better cost-benefit ratio by providing tailored content, including installation guides, API documentation, troubleshooting guides, and more.

That’s where Write Choice comes in. We are revolutionizing how tech companies educate technical and non-technical users about their products through excellent technical documentation and content created by a collaborative and highly skilled team. Get to know more about our workflow here.

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