Polco desktop onboarding experience

interaction design, usability testing

Polco_Cover Image.png

Screenshots of the final onboarding design for Poloco.


How might we connect government officials with communities they represent?



Government officials operate off input that isn’t representative of the community because it’s hard to gather actionable input and statistically relevant data.

Polco is a platform that provides a tool to address this challenge for their customers, generally older and less tech savvy folks, and replaces the need for an end-user to go City Hall to give their input. The inability for the customer to learn and use the platform was affecting Polco's growth and user retention so our goal was to create their first onboarding experience.


Expert review, Competitive analysis, Secondary research, Stakeholder interviews, Synthesis, Hand sketching, Wireframing, Rapid prototyping, Moderated in-person usability testing


Project manager
Interaction designer

The team consisted of one Polco stakeholder.



The constraint we had in the research phase was that we were only able to talk to one potential user that represented someone who could get value from using Polco. We used what we learned from Polco's product, competitors, and common design patterns to inform our onboarding design. Below I highlight three most valuable insights.


Unpacking the platform

We visualized the platform with the ERAF diagram below to help us:

  1. clarify relationships between the elements in the system.
  2. understand areas of friction and figure how to best define the different steps in the onboarding process.

What we found was that it was hard to find uncover the value Polco provided with all the noise. 

Polco_ERAF Systems Concept Diagram.png

ERAF diagram to help the design team to understand the relationships between elements in the Polco platform.


How to frame onboarding

From a growth perspective, we need to think about onboarding from activation to what happens after what we typically think of as onboarding is done to retain users.

From a UX perspective, users should be empowered to take action by weaving the onboarding into the product and primed for the next steps. 

Polco_Research Takeaways.png

Kissmetrics, an analytics company, shows their point of view that the most critical point in sales is thinking about onboarding beyond the activation stage.


Problems a community representative face

What we learned was that it was important to the representatives that onboarding be simple and fast. It should enable them to move closer to their goal.

  • The city council receives varying levels and forms of feedback and the staff spends a lot of time screening them.
  • There isn't a tool that allows them to gather statistically relevant data and content to help them understand the people the council is reaching out to.

Designing the interactions

For our solution, we optimized for a simple onboarding process that could be done in a few steps. To start, specific to Polco:

. . .

Onboarding is enabling our customers to set up a group, manage admins, integrate social media, and post a policy in the most simple way possible.

. . .


Retrofitting an ideal flow

Our biggest constraint was that we needed to design within existing platform regardless if it made sense. As shown in the flow we created below, a customer has to see at least 6 different pages at minimum before they're onboarded. 

Polco_On Boarding Flow.png

Onboarding flow for the existing Polco platform with the onboarding steps we designed mapped.


We worked backwards from the customer's goal and to think through an ideal path and retrofit it to the current platform. We also explored what defined a step and where each step made most sense.


Help users stay focused and empower them to take steps

Our design keeps the user informed on what step they're on throughout the onboarding process. The interface is optimized to help the user learn the platform. The empty state in the first screen the user sees in their onboarding helps the user learn the platform.

Polco_Designing the Interaction_Elements Empty State2.png

Original Polco dashboard (left) and our first iteration (right).