PandaDoc’s quick-start templates

What would you do if you had many different kinds of users and wanted to create an onboarding process that catered to each one? PandaDoc answer is to create quick-start templates.

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PandaDoc built its brand by empowering companies to quickly create, sign, and edit official documents that every business needs.

They have many different kinds of users and wanted to create an onboarding process that catered to each of them. That’s why PandaDoc created “quick-start templates”—to help all of their different users get up and running quickly.

Giving users a choice 🔄

When users create a new document, they’re asked if they want to upload their own doc or start with a template. At every step, users are given choices that allow them the freedom to go their own way or take a more guided approach. This way, more adventurous users could set out independently using an upload or start from scratch. In contrast, users who wanted more help could surf through templates to see what was available.

Customizable template gallery 📂

This same ethos is at play in their template gallery. They show the most popular and best-looking templates right away, so users who want to get started quickly can choose from the best. But they’ve also created specific categories on the left side, so those with more time can find what they need.

Flexible onboarding experience 🚀

This kind of design makes PandaDoc incredibly flexible in how someone is onboarded. There are no lessons or instructions, just easy-to-access templates that get people to create based on how they like to work. Instead of an intimidating blank page, users get a field of possibilities already half-made for them.

As Eugenia Brown, PandaDoc’s former product manager, says:

“The biggest insight is that users like to start with something. They don't want to start with a blank document. So that's why the whole idea of the template gallery is. So if we show them the template gallery, this choice of different templates, they are more likely to interact with the application more."

💡 Key Takeaways

There are several key lessons we can learn from PandaDoc's flexible onboarding approach:

  • Use empty states effectively: Provide users with templates or examples to help them get started without the pressure of a blank page.
  • Highlight your best features upfront: Make a great first impression by showcasing your top designs or functionalities immediately.
  • Offer flexible onboarding paths: Allow users to choose their own onboarding experience, providing support when needed and freedom when desired.