Improving Reddit Onboarding

Summary: 10 day group sprint to improve Reddit onboarding through a tutorial modal showing users how to consume Reddit content and navigate the website. 

Role: User researcher, usability tester, project manager


a Challenging user experience translates to lost revenue opportunities

Reddit misses out on significant amounts of ad revenue advertising with an alarming 36% bounce rate.

Reddit also generates revenue with their premium Reddit gold features, losing further potential revenue if they cannot retain users. 


Using surveys and interviews to identify trends between Reddit users and non-users


Users leave when they don't understand how to navigate the unfamiliar website.

Non-users see themselves using the website regularly if they knew how to navigate it.


Forgoing a redesign to retain current users and educate new ones

  • A redesign of Reddit would require a large development undertaking that we anticipated being difficult and expensive.

  • A major design change could disrupt Reddit's large community and cause regular Reddit users to stop visiting. This would cause Reddit to lose even more ad revenue. 
  • Current Reddit users saw nothing wrong with its functionality in spite of the learning curve required to use Reddit.  

I envisioned a gif to demonstrate certain features of the website and accompanying text to provide extra clarity. 

Other designs we considered:

  • A tutorial sidebar which show users links to help pages and content they would find interesting.

  • A "Related" section on post pages to show users additional posts of relevant, interesting content.

  • Toggle feature for users to switch between the current Reddit format and the layout on their mobile app.

Usability Testing

We conducted two rounds of usability testing. Afterwards, almost all users reported feeling like they had a better grasp of what Reddit offers and how to navigate the website.


  1. Leveraging a progress bar to communicate where users were in the tutorial and where they can freely move to in the flow.
  2. Revising copy explaining subreddits to better inform users of their purpose and how they can use subreddits to find content relevant to their interests.

Splitting the account page into two pages to communicate the value proposition of additional features they can use with an account. 

Final Prototype

Next steps

Questions moving forward:

  • Does this solution fit into the rest of the website?
    • All pages on Reddit do not look or read the same and some subreddits have different page styling. 
  • Would this be a big undertaking on the backend as well?
    • What is the feasibility of implementing this tutorial modal?
  • Will this tool help new users whose first contact with Reddit isn't the homepage?
  • Does this modal empower users to discover content relevant to their interests?
    • The current tool teaches users how to navigate the homepage, but provides few resources on how to discover interesting content. The business' needs are for users to spend extended amounts of time on the website and make repeated visits which users. Interesting content encourages all of these actions. 

Personal takeaways:

  • Group collaboration can be challenging, but its worth as a better product is invaluable.
  • Affinity maps are effective at finding patterns in a large data set.  
  • Copy and iconography make good combinations to convey information, but creating instructions for tasks is really challenging.