UX Case Study

Havanote – Onboarding

We set out to discover how we can inform new users on the purpose of Havanote and streamline their onboarding experience.

My Role:

Collaborative designer – user research, competitive analysis, design, testing


Shah Buyuk, UX Designer
Vinita Venkatraman, UX Designer

The Problem:

Havanote is a geolocation social app that allows a user to drop digital notes on a map to share with their network. Despite onboarding efforts, users were frustrated or unsure how to use Havanote.

The Solution:

Our solution minimized onboarding from 20 screens down to 3 screens and integrated onboarding into the menu for a user to reference at a later time.

Through UX Research we discovered that the current onboarding left a user frustrated due to the high number of screens to navigate before the app launched. Consequently, a user would rush through the onboarding screens without taking the time to learn about Havanote. Combined with the inability to access onboarding again, user retention and engagement was taking a critical hit.

Havanote Onboarding Flow


Loading Screen






Sync Contacts


Select Interests


Follow Users/Friends


Nickel Tour


Feature Call Out

Users had to undergo a Sign-Up process and Onboarding of 20 screens.

Initial Loading Screen
Sign Up/Login with a Nickel Tour
Sync Contacts
Select Interests
Follow Users/Friends
Nickel Tour

In some areas, users could skip onboarding, but weren’t able to exit in most.

Havanote Feature Call in 6 screens

In the end, we brought the total number of onboarding screens down to 3 from the original 20.

Design Process:

01 Conducting Research

02 Identifying Insights

03 Ideation

04 Framing the Solution

05 Developing the Solution

06 Finalizing the Solution

07 Reflection

01 Conducting Research

Research Method 1: Screener Survey

The goal of sending out a survey was to reach a wide range of users as possible and better understand their onboarding experience.

Survey Highlights:

66.7% of Respondents have undergone onboarding recently and felt neutral about how helpful and effective onboarding is.

Research Method 2: Competitive + Comparative Analysis

Through our Competitive and Comparative analysis, we found that major competitors had minimal onboarding.

Swarm is the closest competitor to Havanote, their onboarding consisted of a three-screen Nickel Tour.

Comparative analysis showed that most apps had the option to skip onboarding altogether or did not have onboarding.

Research Method 3: 6 User Interviews + Usability Test

Our team conducted a usability test on the current version of Havanote and interviewed users to gain understanding of their recent onboarding experience.

  • 6/6 Users were not confident about the purpose or function of Havanote after Onboarding
  • 6/6 Users expressed that they would rather skip Onboarding
  • 4/6 Users expressed that they would want to have more control over their Onboarding experience

Some users expressed their concern with Syncing Contacts, Selecting Interests, and Following Users/Friends because they did not trust Havanote just yet because they were still unsure of its function and value.

Research Method 4: Usability Test of High-Fi Prototype

The usability test of the high-fi prototype validated our concept and echoed common user behavior and feelings regarding onboarding observed in our first usability test.

  • 3/3 Users recalled the purpose or function of Havanote after Onboarding
  • 3/3 Users expressed that they would normally skip Onboarding
  • 3/3 Users wanted to know more about the app before signing up

It became evident that our users were much happier with the new concept and that it was vital to offset the other Havanote features after a user engages and builds trust with the app. Allowing the user to interact with the app before signing up left users rating the app with an average score of 4 out of 5 being very satisfied with Havanote.

02 Identifying Insights

Users expressed the need to skip or control their onboarding experience

Users want the option to re-visit onboarding later, if needed

Users view the sign up process as a hindrance because they’re still unsure about the app

Users are still unclear about Havanote’s value or function despite onboarding

Users prefer to skip or avoid onboarding because the app should be easily understood and navigated

“Onboarding is annoying and time consuming.

03 Ideation

Our design studio focused on reducing the number of screens and providing more control to users.

04 Developing the Solution

Refined Concept: Reduced onboarding screens and provided more controls for users to revisit onboarding.

05 Validating the Solution

Refined Wireframes: A prototype was created from the Mid-Fi Wireframes to undergo usability testing.

The current onboarding consisted of 20 onboarding screens
We reduced onboarding to 3 screens.

“if you have to explain it to me, then either I’m stupid, or it’s too complicated to use it.”

06 Finalizing the Solution

Users expressed that they often skip onboarding or if they do undergo onboarding it should be quick. The shortened Nickel Tour was the happy middle ground.
Skip Signup feature allowed users to interact with the app and discover its value before signing up which helped build trust and credibility.
Video of an Itamae working with Sashimi to inform users of the restaurant focus of Havanote. Animations helped to provide more contextualization to a new user.

Key Features

Users expressed the frustration with signing up and onboarding without knowing the value of an app

  • Skip Signup
  • Reduced onboarding
  • Revisit onboarding at a later time

Key Features

Users often didn’t understand the purpose of Havanote despite onboarding

  • Animations provided more context and showcase features
  • Utilizing screenshots of Havanote removed the guesswork and illustrated what users can expect
Havanote High-Fi Prototype
Users were able to garner more information from the use of animations with food imagery and mock-up screens to assist in the contextualization of Havanote’s purpose and function.

I wonder if three pages is necessary to glean all the information … here’s a new app, that’s basically a more social version of Yelp, right?

07 Reflections

The project was led with keeping good UX design and accessibility at the forefront of every decision.

The colors utilized in our iteration offered more contrast. Furthermore, our team made it a point to address user pain points:

  • Lack of Trust
  • Desire to Skip
  • Need for Control
  • Revisit Later

If there is one main takeaway from the project is that features may seem necessary and helpful, but they could also interfere or diminish good user experience.